Football is a funny old game isn’t it?
I swear that it was only a few weeks ago that I was ready to jack it all in because I had absolutely no faith that Johnson or the players had it in them to stick a run of wins together in order to mount a promotion charge.
Now look at me... sat watching the goals back for the fifteenth time since the game ended, analysing the individual positioning of each player, watching the build up - I’m hooked.
And that’s how simple football is and should be, really. I watched Newcastle play against West Brom today and I reckon that’s probably the worst game of football I’ve seen all season - it was completely fucking dull. Nothing happened, there was no quality or excitement, none of the players looked arsed.
Whether your team is in the top flight or is in the third tier, ultimately all that matters is if they make you happy. Right now, Sunderland are making lots of fans happy. We’re not particularly bothered that we’re winning these games in League One - though promotion would be, of course, fantastic. We’re just happy that the team are playing decent footy, scoring goals, have confidence and clearly have a plan.
I love to knock the mags but I’m sure their fans watching the game found it even duller than I did. Imagine watching that shite every week? In fact I don’t really need to imagine it, because that was us not long ago. The parallels between this toon team and the Davey Moyes side that went down in 2017 are stark - they’re in a dark place, like we were then.
But that’s not why you called. As much as I’d like to sit and revel in Newcastle’s misery, there are more important things at play right now for us mackems.
For once we’re meeting expectation - we’re beating the shite teams, we’re giving it our all against the canny sides, and we’re putting points on the board. We have a centre forward who scores loads of goals and we have an array of attackers supplying him who are probably too good for this level.
It’s great to watch.
It’s poignant that we’re kicking off this weekly editorial feature in this of all weeks. With a league game against divisional rivals Portsmouth coming up, followed by a cup final against a League Two side, this really could be a defining week in our season. Winning both games could set us up for a fantastic end to the campaign.
With confidence high, I don’t think I’d rather play these games at any other time. It would be lush to have more of our injured players available, obviously, but we can’t complain too much - injuries happen and that’s why we’ve got a big, strong squad.
Thankfully, Lee Johnson sees it this way too and isn’t making excuses - he’s just finding a way of playing that suits the players he has available, and it’s working.
Teams around us are dropping points and losing their best players to injury, whilst we’ve cruised through our injury crisis and now look set to have lots of players back fit for the final few months of the season.
The little devil sat perched on my shoulder tells me to just enjoy it while it lasts, because it’s only a matter of time before Sunderland fuck up and disappoint us again, and there is that... but I can’t help but feel like we’ve turned a corner. I don’t know whether it’s the ownership change, the fact the manager seems to be finally getting through to the players, or whether it’s just me being a pure mentalist, but I’m really starting to believe that we might actually be able to get out of the league this season.
I’m an optimist - I can’t help it. Maybe I’m just giddy because of the cup final, I dinnar - I’m just in a happy place as a fan right now. And that’s all that matters, right?
We might even get to stuff the mags again next season if we’re lucky.