It’s 11pm on a Wednesday night in late October, a gale force wind has just blown our garden bench into a plant pot on the patio, and Sunderland have just sealed their place in the quarter-finals of the League Cup.
Our impeccable run of cup games this season has now reached six wins from six (including the two pizza cup fixtures) is made even more impressive knowing that five of these have been on the road including all four of our League Cup ties.
In QPR, we were without a doubt on for our toughest challenge of the season yet.
A side who are flying in the Championship, we went down there and did more than just hold our own.
We are playing without fear for the first time in a very long time, and we are thoroughly deserving of our last eight place.
With the draw for the next round not being made until Saturday, there’ll be plenty of time to sit and ponder over who would make the ideal opposition. For me, the answer to this is simple: I want it to be one of the big guns.
Some people (naively, I’d suggest, as they’re good!) sit and think of how ‘if we have Brentford then that would give us a (slightly easier looking) quarter final contest, but where’s the fun in that? Let’s be honest - who genuinely believed we would make it this far?
Every win, however, has been hard-fought and proof of the fight which our squad possesses this season.
We should be looking to test the Johnson blueprint against the toughest side possible in a competition where there is only a win-win scenario for us.
Say we get drawn at home to Liverpool. The side we face will be somewhat different to the Liverpool we see line-up in the Premier League, but regardless of who plays for them, there’s really no way for us to lose.
We get a tanking and you can say “well we’re in the third tier and these lot were Champions League winners two years ago”, and if, somehow, we turn them over, we will have beaten a side who won the Champions League two years ago. It’s a classic win-win.
A clash with one of the biggies (Chelsea or Liverpool, anyone?) would be a challenge deserving of the club we have become in the opening exchanges of this season.
The team spirit of this squad is unlike anything we’ve seen in the last 20 years.
Yes, we probably can’t compete man to man with some of the open cheque book Premier League sides, but wouldn’t it be nice to have the chance to just get at one of them in a one-off match?
Then any experiences we gain from it, particularly the many younger players who make up the core of our squad, we can take into the long road to - hopefully - promotion in May.
Any cup run is a bonus, and to reach the last eight we’ve had to get past two second-tier sides. This season every match has been something to look forward to. A clash with a Premier League club, which is now guaranteed, will be no different.