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Blackpool v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Second Round

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Buzzin’ to be back! Sunderland players should be relishing playing in front of sold-out away end

Sunderland’s excellent away support have sold out yet another away end, with over 2500 of us set to make the trip to Rotherham. This could be a great day out - not just for the fans, but for our players. HAWAY!

Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

It’s been a long time since I went to an away game, but I cannot bloody wait for tomorrow.

Rotherham’s New York Stadium is a new one on me, and being there as part of a sold-out away end could end up being truly special, if the result goes our way.

I don’t know why, but the buzz around this game reminds me of when we went to Oakwell in 2007 to watch Roy Keane’s Sunderland take on Barnsley.

There were tonnes of us in the ground in South Yorkshire that day - we won 2-0, the atmosphere was immense, and the fanbase were buzzing.

Even now, all these years later, our lot still talk about that day as one of the big games in that season that defined our eventual success.

It might be a bit early to cast similar expectations on tomorrow’s match, but Rotherham are in great form and are just a point behind us - winning could really help steer our season back in the right direction after such a disappointing loss last weekend.

But, we mustn’t dwell too much on that Charlton display - we showed in midweek that we are capable of bouncing back, and finding our way past QPR to become the last surviving EFL team in this season’s League Cup was pretty special.

Sunderland v Accrington Stanley - Sky Bet League One Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Everyone is back on cloud nine - as shown by the fact we’ve sold out the next two away games, and sold out a massive away end at QPR on Tuesday.

We’ve always had an immense away following, but the hype around these occasions definitely builds when people can feel that the season is going to pan out well.

We’re playing attractive, entertaining football, and tickets for these games are becoming like rocking horse shite - everyone wants one, so they’re hard to find.

As a player - particularly if you’re a youngster making your first foray into senior football, or someone who has never really played for a big club or at a high level before - you should be relishing the opportunity to go out there and make those thousands of travelling fans happy.

They truly are the luckiest footballers in the land.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

We might be the outsiders, but we have to make Rotherham’s ground our own on Saturday. We have to outsing them off the pitch, and outfight them on it.

I couldn’t be more confident in our ability to do it - I don’t think there’s another team at this level that can touch us on our day.

We will lose games, like we did at Pompey and like we did last weekend, but we’ll also win a hell of a lot more than we did when Jack Ross and Phil Parkinson bored us to death with draws more often than not.

As Malc correctly pointed out on the post-Charlton reaction podcast last weekend, this is a marathon, not a sprint - and even now, in October, one result is not going to define our season. Even if we don’t win on Saturday, it won’t be the end of the world.

But on the flipside, a win could be huge for our momentum. We have some tough games coming up, and keeping ourselves around those top positions is key. When we do get the chance to play our catchup matches, we want to be in the strongest position possible.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Round of 16 Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

I don’t need to tell anyone reading this that, though - we all know it. And I think I speak for most fans when I say that we’re confident that this manager and this team have what it takes to pick up crucial victories.

We’re showing that by backing them through the turnstiles, selling out games and turning up in numbers - now, it’s just up to those who can truly make a difference to show their appreciation by winning us important points.

I just cannot bloody wait for that trip down tomorrow - getting on the beers and getting in amongst the atmosphere in the pubs and in the ground before kick off.

Let’s just hope that we give it a right good go, and lay down a marker to the rest of the division. We all know we can do it - let’s just flex our muscles, play our way, and the rest will take care of itself.


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