26 games into Sunderland’s League One season and, in the aftermath of Saturday’s performance, the nerves began to twitch. For whatever good times the fans have had so far, we’re reaching a pivotal stage.
It would be melodramatic to suggest we have cause for panic right now; only a few weeks into the January transfer window, sitting quietly around the upper rungs of the table. But it wouldn’t be melodramatic to suggest that the seeming lack of urgency coupled with some questionable tactical decisions and team selections are starting to furrow some brows.
Disappointing points hauls and a return to mediocrity for several key players in recent weeks are all valid cause for concern, and with the future of prolific top scorer Josh Maja up in the air it’s been tough to stomach some of our recent results.
The rallying cries that accompanied the season’s start were undoubtedly synonymous with the idea of instant success.
Its true to say that the regime tried to temper our expectations on several occasions, with Jack Ross clarifying numerous times that League One would be no pushover, and Stewart Donald hesitant to pin tangible numbers on his claims of backing the manager with whatever he needs in the transfer window.
Saturday’s draw with Scunthorpe is becoming an all too familiar story. Its evident to all involved that reinforcements are needed - as to whether we get the right amount and the right kind of reinforcement or not is anyone’s guess right now.
One thing is for sure though - that newly-discovered confidence once thought lost is, in many Sunderland supporters, again beginning to ebb, and none of us want to be looking down the barrel of another season at this level. For all that we want to believe it will all work out in the end, the consequences of a failed promotion attempt could be dire.
We still have a fair way to go yet though and it feels to me that we’re watching a game of poker without being able to see anyone’s hand.
Will Donald and co. get it spot on in what remains of this transfer window? Is Jack Ross the tactician we need to push up and out of this league at the first time of asking? Does the current crop of players have what it takes to do what’s expected of them and play to a level beyond League One?
Time will tell.