Dear Roker Report,
Every single Sunderland fan is looking forward to the Checkatrade Final on Sunday. Plenty have had their say regarding the much-anticipated match against Pompey. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read how fans wouldn’t or shouldn’t be too upset if we were to lose the Wembley show-piece. Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, I do understand why they may feel like that… but there is another very different perspective.
Firstly, the Sunderland boss, Jack Ross, has spoken many times how following the wreckage of the last two seasons he had to bring back a winning mentality to the Black Cats. Certainly, he still has work to do, not just with regards to his team but the fans. Given how the club has suffered over the last few years that is understandable.
It may not be the cup that either Sunderland or Portsmouth fans would want to be competing in… with both sets of fans willing to trade victory at Wembley for automatic promotion.
However, it doesn’t work that way, and in fact the game could prove a much more important catalyst than either set of fans might believe.
Winning games breads a winning mentality, so wouldn’t both the fans and players be more confident about promotion if Sunderland’s unbeaten run since the turn of the year remained intact going into April?
Given that this year’s Checkatrade trophy is contested between two of League One’s promotion hopefuls should give a little added spice.
We can tell ourselves that there is only a minor trophy riding on the game. But down to the crux of the matter, the latter stages of the season in any promotion race comes down to a psychological battle. The winners of the battle on March 31st could well be victors in the promotion war too.
Let’s not forget, there is also the prospect of the club’s potential promotion being decided back at Wembley in May. If Sunderland can beat Pompey, it would be the first win on the hallowed turf since 1973. Wouldn’t that give the Black Cats an advantage against anyone they may potentially face if our route were to be decided via the play-offs?
For any Sunderland fan present in Leicester Square the night before the League Cup Final in 2014, saw a glimpse of how desperate the club’s fanbase truly are for some success and what it would mean.
Similarly, those supporters will remember how dejected they felt trudging away from beneath the Wembley arch having been beaten by Man City. But for any neutral unaware of the result it would have been difficult to recognise the winning team as the so-called ‘noisy neighbours’, Manchester City were far from overwhelmed by their victory. We’d all hope that if this great club does begin to win silverware, we never become so arrogant or complacent as to dismiss any silverware after years of dreaming.
So, enjoy every minute of this weekend, the final and cheer for victory! These occasions come around all too rare… while it could ultimately prove a deciding factor in the eventual outcome of our season which could be the first step to a great future.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I have to agree with the majority of what you’ve said there - this, to me, means so much more than just a game of football.
It’s a symbol of renewed hope, of a new era, and a fine reward for the supporters like myself who stuck by the team and turned up every single week even when the team were getting trounced and the atmosphere was toxic.
Winning this would considerably lift the mood of the supporters. It’d put more numbers on the gate for our remaining home games, it would have us all believing we can go up automatically and it would give us some momentum - things that make for a better matchday atmosphere and therefore better results on the pitch.