As Mark Egan described in last week’s ITHICS column, the last time we were at this level it didn’t all go without a hitch.
Indeed, our initial progress then mirrors our current progress rather eerily. Then it was four draws and three wins, before succumbing to a 3-1 defeat to Brighton. This time it’s four wins and three draws, before Burton whipped away our unbeaten towel.
To reveal no clothes? “The emperor has no clothes”, some are shouting. If we continue to mirror the 1987-88 season, then prepare for Rochdale to do one over us too.
If you had a particularly glass-half empty outlook, you could say that we haven’t won for three games.
It’s unrealistic to think we could have gone the entire season unbeaten, for the side is still very much a work in progress. You could say, that we are some way ahead of where we should expect to be - given the major upheaval not only that the squad has undergone, but the club as a whole.
New owners, new management, new squad - and after all that we still remain in fourth place, five points behind the league’s leaders, Portsmouth, who are now the only unbeaten team in the division.
Granted, we have dropped seven points out of the last nine, but our strong start has given us that bit of breathing space.
If anything, our little wobble shows how thin the squad is in certain areas. Max Power’s suspension is a big blow and the midfield is missing his strength. Though George Honeyman is a mainstay, which provides some stability.
Charlie Wyke’s injury further underlines the poverty of refereeing in this league. The owners were aware of this and Stewart Donald has admitted, on the Roker Rapport Podcast, that the January transfer window is equally as important as the one that has just closed.
The club’s hard-line approach on Ndong and Djilobodji is welcome as a resolution will release more funds to strengthen the squad.
Jack Ross has demonstrated that he reacts quickly to issues in the team and his track record in Scotland is impressive. And while Sunderland fans are nervous - in a ‘here we go again’ kind of way - of any poor results or performances, the trend is most definitely upwards.
When was the last time we could say that?