As I write this I’ve just walked through the door after watching Sunderland absolutely trounce Sheffield Wednesday at the Stadium of Light, and I’m on cloud nine.
I stayed until the final whistle and I clapped them off - no more than they deserved.
Contrast that to just under two months ago, when I walked out after 53 minutes at Hillsbrough as the very same side trounced us without a whimper - the difference between then and now is unbelievable, and full credit must go to the manager and players for the cracking job they’ve done in going unbeaten in the league since then.
Back then I was worried that Sunderland might not have enough about them to get out of League One - not if we were going to let teams like Sheffield Wednesday walk all over us.
Now, though, we’re in a totally different place.
The big worry going into the game was that Wednesday’s three-week rest would give them the advantage over our tired and tested bunch, but rather amazingly we looked sharper and fitter, right to the final whistle. Lee Johnson is extracting an extra ten percent from these players, and it’s that margin that’s making all the difference.
Familiarity helps too. We’re pretty much stuck with the same players, but that’s weirdly helping. We’re finding consistency because players are almost guaranteed to be playing - ordinarily, I’d worry about risking new injuries, and in the first half my heart was in my mouth every time someone went down, but whatever we’re doing appears to be working.
We were cold, harsh and ruthless. From the first minute when Bailey Wright absolutely leathered Patterson, we set the tone and kept that attitude going right til the final whistle.
Where that came from, I’m not sure - we gave it a good go against Arsenal, and they received plenty of praise. Maybe that’s helped the collective confidence, because we’ve been totally different in the last two games when it comes to how we manage the game.
That was a true statement win - we trounced a well-rested, strong Sheffield Wednesday team with a performance that must give the players unbelievable confidence in what they’re actually able to do when they’re in full flow.
It’s just nice to watch.
I could bang on all day about how great it was watching Sunderland play, but I won’t. I just want to say how happy it’s making me to watch my team play with such freedom. They play some beautiful football at times and we have some truly great players - Pritchard, Stewart, Neil and Dajaku in particular are just so fun to watch when they’re in full flow.
The only thing now is that we don’t play again until we face Wycombe in just over a week... it’s just not fair! Why can’t we play again tomorrow?!
Long may it continue!