This past weekend saw us take in yet another bitterly disappointing result for Sunderland - a result that, despite the positive performance, may well have left our club all but relegated.
Yet a glance towards the away end at Elland Road on Saturday would have suggested we are in no such dire straits. In fact the fans that travelled to Leeds this weekend were an absolute credit to the club and truly represent our identity.
On a recent episode of our podcast, George Caulkin - north east football writer for the Times - commented on the fact that for ten years in the Premier League our club considered survival a success story, and that being a side that actually wins football matches was no longer how the club measured success.
He pointed out that this is fundamentally wrong, and a huge part of the reason we find ourselves struggling in this current plight.
And George was absolutely correct.
Sunderland’s board, many of the players and admittedly a lot of the fans have been satisfied with basic survival. So much so that we were considered escape artists whose crowning achievement was pulling it out of the bag in the last ten games of the season - and of course beating the mags in our new manager’s second game in charge.
I’m sure you will agree its time for something of a re-branding.
League One has been the venue for many fresh starts for big clubs (think Southampton, Wolves, Blackburn) and Sunderland can be the next name to add onto that list.
To change the mentality of this club we will need to harness a shred of positivity and this past weekend our fans gave us just that.
Many of the 2,100 loyal supporters in attendance forked out £38 per ticket (because Leeds knew they would pay it) and turned up in fine voice. The game was played to a chorus of “Sunderland ‘til I die” and the players responded to that passion from the stands.
After the game Leeds fans on social media were quick to praise those in the away end for creating a great atmosphere, with many commenting that we had the best away support at Elland Road this season.
That’s something to be proud of. As a club, as a community, we need to look to ourselves for the answers to this identity crisis.
big shoutout to the #SAFC fans yesterday at Elland Road. Best away fans to come to Elland Road this year for a team about to suffer second straight relegation. Proper proper fans— Lucas Gibson (@LucasG1998) April 8, 2018
Next season we may be playing in the third tier but that doesn’t mean it’s the end - far from it, in fact.
We have a fantastic manager who is up for the fight and I have no doubt that his positivity will infect the rest of the club if he and his players receive the same support as they did on Saturday every week from the best supporters in the country.
The fans are Sunderland’s greatest asset and we are the ones who define our club. Next season we’ll show the football world what we are really all about.