Sunderland host Luton Town this weekend in what is arguably the biggest game of our side’s season thus far. Winning would see Jack Ross’ men move into second place, ahead of this weekend’s opposition, whereas a defeat would open a four point gap - which would render our game in hand relatively futile.
Simply put: Sunderland have to win this weekend if they are to gather the momentum required for promotion without the added drama of play-off football. This is cathartic.
Subsequently, in order to find a competitive edge this weekend, Jack Ross’ men really need a sizeable crowd roaring them on to victory.
Stewart Donald, Charlie Methven, Jack Ross and a host of first-team players have already noted how important the Sunderland fans have been this season - Ross was particularly thrilled after over 8,000 travelling Mackems cheered his men onto victory against Blackpool on New Year’s Day:
I stressed that to the players, enjoy the feeling of getting cheered off by 8,000 fans.
It is worth the sacrifices.
Our gratitude to those that travelled is consistent because it is a remarkable support.
It’s that exact level of fanatical support that Sunderland need this weekend in order to maximize our chances of success.
Luton have had a torrid week in which they’ve lost their manager and several first-team players; Sunderland, on the other hand, have had a positive week in which they’ve progressed to the quarter-finals of the EFL Trophy and added a commanding central defender to their ranks with the loan signing of Jimmy Dunne from Burnley.
Another bumper crowd cheering the Lads on would be a real statement of intent, both in terms of our promotion aspirations and also in terms of our financial position.
A crowd of 40,000+ would be just the catalyst required to give Ross’ men an injection of confidence going into such a crucial match - winning in front of an uproarious support would signal that the automatic promotion push is well and truly gathering momentum.
Continue to attract crowds of over 40,000 after this weekend’s critical game and the club is looking at a financial windfall for the remainder of the campaign.
Rudimentary maths tells you that a bonus 10,000 or so fans means hundreds-of-thousands in extra cash would flood into Sunderland’s coffers - this, in turn, means better signings and improvements to the club.
It would be wonderful if, in the summer, we could look back at January the 12th and remark that not only was this the game in which Sunderland showed their true credentials as automatic promotion contenders, but that this was also the game that brought the masses back to the Stadium of Light.
That’s not to say that the current 30,000+ fans going week after week aren’t doing a good job - far from it in fact - but how brilliant would it be to see a consistently packed out Stadium bouncing as the Lads hunt for automatic promotion and potentially a league title?
So, get yourself to the Stadium of Light this Saturday if you can, and cheer Jack Ross’ men on with every ounce of energy you can muster.
This weekend signals the most important game of our season so far, and what a statement we could make with a win in front of a packed ground. Ha’way the Lads!
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