When looking at Sunderland’s league results so far this season, Wikipedia colour codes them as green for a win, yellow for a draw and red for a loss.
You would have to go back as far as December 7th to find the last bit of red - an ignominious defeat away at Gillingham, and one which brought your humble correspondent here to question the wisdom of the recent change in manager, from Jack Ross to Phil Parkinson, in a piece which ran on Roker Report on 23rd December.
Since that game, however, the club has remained undefeated and has recorded some notable results along the way. Sunderland are in fantastic form, with momentum building as the end of the January transfer window comes closer - and more squad improvements surely to be made.
Up to the time of that pre-Christmas piece, Sunderland gaffer Phil Parkinson had recorded two wins, two draws and four losses. In the seven games since then, it’s fair to say that we have witness a complete turnaround on the pitch - and credit must be given for that.
With four wins and three draws in this undefeated period, indeed, we are now on a mini-winning streak of three wins in a row - including as 4-0 thumping of erstwhile former league leaders Wycombe Wanderers.
That game witnessed some of the best football played by a Sunderland side for many a year - probably since we were last in the Premier League. I thought my notifications were bust when I got three in a row in the first 20 minutes of the game to tell me what was going on at the Stadium of Light.
And it goes without saying that finding a settled defence certainly helps.
Turkish centre back Alim Ozturk, who found it hard to get into Jack Ross’s side with any sort of regularity, is now a permanent fixture under the reign of Phil Parkinson. He has formed a formidable defensive partnership with summer signing Jordan Willis. With Denver Hume on the left, Luke O’Nien on the right and one of Tom Flanagan or Joel Lynch playing left central defence, this back five and goalkeeper has certainly been the difference-maker.
The resurgence of American forward Lynden Gooch has also coincided with the turnaround, and he’s been incredibly useful since his return from an injury which ruled him out for a considerable length of time. Gooch, with his eight goals so far this season, is second only to Chris Maguire (on nine) in the club’s scoring charts.
Long may this fantastic form continue.
The big crowds and away followings are making a comeback. From the low of 26,000 for the visit of Burton, crowds are now well above the 30,000 mark and will only increase if the team continues to prove their worth, work hard and achieve positive results. Together, the fans and the players can create something special - you certainly mustn’t doubt the impact a beast this size, with that sort of momentum behind them, can become capable of.