“The p**s taking party is over”, belted out our new Director Charlie Methven upon his arrival at the Stadium of Light - a refreshing, straight to the point statement that echoed the feelings of an entire fan-base that had become demoralised after years of being forced to watch mercenaries such as Jack Rodwell and Didier Ndong waltz around the pitch, seemingly lacking any care for the club that paid them, the fan-base that supported them or the crumbling walls of the club they represented.
In truth, to call the attitudes of the aforementioned duo a “p**s take” would be too kind.
To say you need broad shoulders, a certain type of character and skin thicker than an elephant to play for Sunderland AFC would be a massive understatement. To succeed at Sunderland, you need to have a little something about you.
From day dot there was widespread agreement between the board and the fan-base of exactly what was needed if the club was to escape out of the black hole it seemed to be tumbling into.
There was, and still is, a million and one issues either side, but the key to beginning the Stewart Donald era on the right foot was to reconnect the team and club with the fans that so desperately wanted to be connected.
Bringing in the right characters, people who understand Sunderland and have the desire and the requirements to wear the red and white shirt was absolutely paramount.
Now, ten months on, the feel-good factor around the club is quite remarkable when you think of where things were at last May. Fans have genuine affection for the men on the park, and have real role models like Luke O’Nien and homegrown hero Grant Leadbitter.
But, for this particular piece I want to concentrate on the man who I believe has been our player of the year so far - Aiden McGeady.
As we all know, the supremely talented Irishman joined us last year, opting to sign for the Lads instead of completing a permanent move to Preston North End, where he had enjoyed immense success the season prior. A snip at £250k, McGeady was our stand-out player in the opening half of last term. Despite the obvious turmoil that continued to sow the seeds of disaster in the Stadium of Light boardroom, he was our only shining light.
However, as the team struggled to put up any sort of fight in their unexpected battle against the drop, the unfortunate McGeady was often left isolated, and despite his obvious talent was perhaps seen as a luxury in a team that required leadership, commitment and fight.
In truth, his early season form was forgotten as the depression of what was happening to the club set in.
So when the summer rebuild came, many expected McGeady to join the likes of Joel Asoro and Paddy McNair in departing the club. A talented player, but “not what was required” in a League One battle - or simply on a little too much wedge.
Players that would “get” Sunderland were what was required - and McGeady was not seen as one of them.
However, due to injury, the flood of bids most of us expected did not come in for the winger and come September 1st, McGeady remained at the Stadium of Light, albeit injured and lacking a pre-season under his belt.
Whilst speculation did come and go during the summer transfer window (namely from Leeds United), not a word was heard from the 32-year-old or his agent - no desire to move, no clamour to get out. He just kept his head down, worked on getting fit and taking his chance when it came along - and boy did he take his chance when it came.
Praise has, quite rightly, been lavished on McGeady for his outstanding technical ability and mesmerising footwork, but it’s perhaps in his manner, commitment to the cause and demeanor around the place that is most impressive.
He’s a player that could have easily walked out of the front door of the Stadium of Light, laid blame to a poisonous club being to blame for the black spot on his career path, and walked off into the sunset - but he didn’t. He stayed and has been the key man that has been at the forefront of our resurgence.
Aiden McGeady is enjoying his football and he cares a whole lot about this football club, and has showcased it since last season - as evidenced on ‘Sunderland Till I Die’.
Stats show that, defensively, he has won over half of his defensive duels. He never shirks any of his responsibilities, often dragging Jack Ross’ team back into games by the scruff of the neck. His performances on the pitch - and not just his goals, but his leadership skills and his willingness to put his head above the parapet for Sunderland - are clear to see.
He may not be the typical Sunderland hero in the mould of Lee Cattermole or Kevin Ball, but his desire, fight and a willingness to put his neck on the line for the red and white cause this season has been up there with the best of them.
Whilst he may not be a vocal, ball winning, eyes popping out of sockets leader, there’s more than one way to pull a team forward and McGeady is evidence of this and quite rightly deserves the praise he is getting right now.