I’m not ignorant, or stupid, or blind - Sunderland’s loss on Tuesday at Bristol Rovers was, put bluntly, a complete f**king disaster. If our confidence and automatic promotion chances weren’t already hanging by an incredibly thin thread, then losing to a team who had just days previously been whopped by a bunch of Southend youth players may well be what we look back at as a defining moment in an incredibly bumpy season so far.
Yet, I can’t help but feel incredibly measured about it all. Whilst all hell breaks loose around me, with fans on social media in particular disgruntled by what they perceive to be ‘the end’ of Sunderland’s season as we know it, I still don’t think that now is the time to jump the shark and to write off the remaining eight games of the current campaign.
Should we be concerned? Absolutely. Nothing about the last four performances tells us that this team is one capable of stealing that coveted second place spot.
For all that we have legitimate reasons to be concerned about the direction the club is heading, I can’t see much merit at this stage in us throwing our toys out of the pram.
We have eight games left. We are still just two points from where we wish to be, albeit with fewer games left to play than most of our promotion rivals. We’ve just came off the back of a long unbeaten run that itself followed a long winless run. We have demonstrated a capability to pick up momentum and win a large amount of games.
What we do know is that we’ll soon have new owners, if we are to take Stewart Donald at his word (which, admittedly, is a stretch). We’ll soon be starting again, either in this league or the one above. Phil Parkinson probably doesn’t know if he’ll still have a job in a few month’s time, so what’s the use in calling for his head now?
Your concerns are of course warranted. If you’re feeling angry or upset about recent results then that’s coming from a good place. All you - we - want to see is for Sunderland to get promoted. We can see the opportunity slipping away right in front of our eyes.
For me, I think this offers us a chance to reflect. How can I perform in my role as a supporter to ensure I give my club, the players and the manager the best possible chance of doing their jobs to the best of their ability? Offering considered critique is fine, but that must also come with offering our complete support to the only people who are really able to play games of football and win us games.
So we continue to back the team in our thousands. We continue to give them our full backing before, during and after games. We encourage, we roar on every tackle and every pass. We put the team before everything else and then, come the end of the season, the inquest can begin.
I know it sounds daft to essentially ask supporters to support their team but, well... I am. It’s quite literally all that we can do now before the end of the season. No amount of complaining is going to change anything, because these owners and this manager - and even some of these players - are going anywhere until this season ends.
Let’s just suck it up, and try to see if we can have a positive end to the season.