This season feels lethargic to say the least, but there is something I have found myself considering more and more this year more than anything - I’m less bothered about Sunderland not playing on a Saturday.
In the past, when a weekend came about when Sunderland weren’t playing, I used to be disappointed. Football on a Saturday always gives you something to look out for. Going to a match is often a good day out, regardless of the outcome. It’s a big event; my last match was the Shrewsbury match back in October (I’m currently living in Wales) and other than the result we had a great time.
This season has seen several weekends come and go without any match - whether that be because of an international break or, like this week, not getting past the first round of the FA Cup for the first ever time in our history.
Honestly, I was once gutted whenever there wasn’t a Sunderland match on a Saturday. It just didn’t feel right, especially when we would have matches called off for international breaks. Why we couldn’t do without Jon McLaughlin or Tom Flanagan for a week or two was beyond me.
I did think this is my thinking because Sunderland aren’t very good. Yet the fact I’ve enjoyed looking out for the scores on Saturday at some point in 16 years of following the lads means that can’t be the case.
How often have we been genuinely good in this period - a year and a half maybe?
That’s probably pessimistic, but its not too far from the truth really.
Admittedly, as I write this on a Friday afternoon, I’ll be frustrated when there’s no Sunderland game. December looks like a scarce month for fixtures, with only two matches taking place between the start of the month and Christmas - this partially being down to Bury being removed from the Football League, something which has given the division a strange look since the summer.
Watching Sunderland play has usually been something of a novelty for me. I’ve lived, studied and now work far from the bright lights of the SoL, so following the games has become harder and when the chance comes it’s one I rarely miss. Not having a match on a Saturday afternoon makes the period between 3pm and 5pm feel empty. Yes, there’s other football to keep tabs on, but its just not the same is it?
The period which we currently find our club in is, as is so often shoved in our faces and down our throats, the lowest in Sunderland’s history. Having already been turned over five times by teams who have taken advantage of our performances completely devolved of tactics or bite, the season is quickly turning into a dystopian nightmare... although I’d like to think George Orwell would have better taste in a football team.
Having said this, and not as someone who will be able to go to many matches this season, it is becoming harder to care about Sunderland. The 2-1 defeat to Burton on Tuesday felt about as tinpot as it gets. At least in the Premier League when a team would dance through our timid defence you could almost accept it. When players such as Aguero, Salah and Sterling make your team look amateur there is an essence of knowing it’s because Sunderland can’t compete with those kinds of players.
When Liam Boyce and Adebayo Akinfenwa are doing it, it just feels naff.
This article may have gone off the rails a bit, almost like Phil Parkinson’s still relatively short career on Wearside, but the point is this: I will say that it’s nice to avoid watching Sunderland on a Saturday afternoon but deep down, I’ll miss it.
There’s very few of us out there who wouldn’t.