Winning games consistently is not something Sunderland fans are used to. When it comes to stats, it is usually alongside numbers such as ‘X amount of defeats in a row’ or ‘X amount of matches without scoring’. However, recently we have been associated with some positive and frankly outlandish stats. They have helped to fuel a feel-good factor the likes of which we haven’t seen on Wearside for many years.
Let’s start with the man of the moment, or the year. Charlie Wyke has started firing in goals on an unprecedented regularity. Almost every week, a new stat has appeared showing that the man going through the greatest footballing renaissance of the 21st century is not stopping any time soon.
With Wyke leading the line, being backed up by a midfield creating boatloads of chances and a defence (which is still makeshift) leaking about as much as the Hoover Dam, things are very good for Sunderland fans at present.
Five straight clean sheets, six wins in the last seven matches (not including the Wembley win) and one defeat in 11 are all very good numbers. Piling up these figures while not always playing the best football has the makings of a promotion for which we are all eager.
Further reasons for the feel-good factor sweeping over us is seeing how well our squad is gelling together.
Lee Johnson came in and used his first transfer window to bolster numbers in positions that were most needed. Jordan Jones, Ross Stewart and Carl Winchester were all slow-burners when first becoming Sunderland players. Winchester had a lot of cynics, while the others have been curtailed by injury – but now they feel as though they are going to be vital cogs in the machine.
The players look very happy at the moment, whether that’s because of the run we are on or the influence of the new manager remains to be seen. Hopefully, it’s both.
I haven’t had this feeling of optimism watching Sunderland play since the halcyon days of Roy Keane and the Championship. Back then, winning games was almost expected. We went unbeaten for almost the entirety of the second half of that season. If we repeat that kind of form in the remaining 12 matches this season, then a similar outcome to the 2006/07 campaign should be on the cards.
OK, it might be premature, but it’s about time that we could actually enjoy watching Sunderland play. To be able to chat about that winning feeling with other football fans is something I could happily get used to.
The finale of the season is set to look tasty and with plenty of the top six still to play, starting with Lincoln on Saturday. Getting the winning feeling going at any point in a campaign is great, but with just a quarter of the season to go having the momentum Sunderland currently have could be the difference between a top to finish and a slog in the playoffs.
Winning is infectious and at the moment for Sunderland, it’s catching. The good times may not be here officially but, after recent years, it feels so good to actually enjoy watching Sunderland play.