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Sheffield United v Sunderland AFC - Carabao Cup Third Round

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Ha’way, Ha’way, Haway

Some of us are feeling a bit down in the dumps at the minute. Can you give your fellow Sunderland die-hards a reason to remain cheerful, and hopeful that we can still get promoted?

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Matt Smith says...

Sunderland’s plight at the moment seems far worse than it actually is, purely for being so frustratingly familiar. We know the well-rehearsed drill by now: fresh start and hope of better times to come under new stewardship, said hopes seemingly justified by early promise, early promise gives way to stagnation, stagnation festers into terminal decline saved only by the prospect of another a fresh start. Repeat to fade.

It’s understandable that many fans, hard-wired into anticipating this cyclical narrative, should view our current poor run of form as proof of our own unique historical deterministic destiny. Like pessimists in a hurry, we want to spare ourselves the slow, agonising death and just skip to the end. Yet nothing is inevitable until it happens.

Missing out on promotion this year won’t prove the inevitability of ultimate failure.

Neither will a poor start to next season.

Right now we’ve got a better than average chance of getting promoted this year which is frankly incredible. Most of our play-off rivals are similarly struggling for consistency and, as brilliantly highlighted in the latest Talking Tactics, we’ve shown huge progress in addressing our worrying defensive frailties. And if you’re of a superstitious disposition we’ve also recently dispelled the Wembley hoodoo.

Yes, it may all end in tears but that point, should it happen, is many miles down the road. There are many directional forks the club may take before then and not all of them lead to heartbreak.

Hull City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One - KCOM Stadium Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

Neil Graney says...

Glory supporter or glory hunter in the psychological literature is known as “BIRGING” - “basking in reflective glory” - that doesn’t sound familiar for Sunderland fans, does it?

How about CORFING? Still not familiar?

Oh it is - “cutting off reflective failure”.

We are so used to failure, to disappointments, we psychologically prepare for it earlier than most, before it even happens. So used to failure, we think it’s happened before it has.

It’s in our primal instincts to protect ourselves from more heartache, from more pain.

So we act irrationally and disconnect - FUME is the popular word on socials. We’d have previously CORFED alone, behind closed doors, but some feel the need to CORF publicly, social media, enter hysterics after every failure, a poor performance, a goalkeeping error, a quadruple substitution. and so on...

Now I can’t say I’m not concerned by the latest form or results, but as fans we cannot really do anything. The players are probably doing a bit of CORFING themselves.

But I do believe we have enough to ensure a play-off spot, and go on to win promotion.

Crucially, we’ll have a ten-day break between the last day of the season and the start of the playoffs. It’s time for Lee Johnson to reflect, it’s time for the players to reflect and, importantly, to get some rest.

If we don’t?

Well, we can class it as failure… but as KLD pointed out in his very first interview, it won’t be a huge disaster, but our primal instincts will kick in. The club will just reset in a different way, and by August we’ll have stopped CORFING. We’ll be full of belief again, thinking of days of BIRGING, but hopefully, we’ll be BIRGING come May 30th.

Sunderland v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says...

Cheer up, at least Lee Johnson is like a real-life David Brent!

Sure, we may be losing games hand over fist, but at least we can laugh along when we’re compared to sharks, or greyhounds, or whatever animal was on Discovery last week. Should the animal comparisons cease, we can always be excited by Johnson’s wonderful array of abbreviations, with more acronyms than a visit to AC-12’s interview room.

Notwithstanding that, we also get a fashion lesson almost every time Johnson steps onto the touchline - from dashing bootcuts to Peaky Blinders-inspired flat caps, there’s almost no look Johnson can’t pull off.

What’s more, should Sunderland make it to Wembley again, Johnson will once again be sure to tap into his ”business” mode and dazzle with sartorial elegance.

All jokes aside, we’re accustomed to this squad as well as the almost inevitable result of what is to come. We’ve seen the script before. With a defence in tatters and a team bang out of form, we’ll have to take whatever joy we can bleed from our remaining fixtures.

However, one thing remains certain, when the first whistle of the play-offs goes, none of this will really matter, and you can guarantee everybody will be 100% behind the Lads.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Martin Wanless says...

There are four huge reasons to be positive heading into the final throes of the season.

1. In many respects, we’re far better off going into the playoffs having known we’re in them for a while, rather than losing out on automatic promotion at the last minute and suffering that blow. We’ll have gotten our heads around it, and be focused on achieving what we need to do.

2. After such an intense schedule, the next week or two should give us the opportunity to rest players, who can return refreshed for the most crucial games of the season.

3. Chris Maguire – there’s still the possibility that whatever’s going on with him and Johnson, I believe, will be sorted out and he’ll come back to play a key part. Johnson doesn’t come across as the type to ‘cut his nose off to spite his face’ so I expect Maguire to come back into the side over the next two games.

4. Whatever happens, Johnson will have learned more about the players from this spell of results than he would have had we kept up the run and gone up or gone close. We know the deficiencies in many of these players, and Johnson now does too. Whatever division we are in next season, he now knows our weaknesses in full technicolor – and that’s got to stand us in good stead.

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Chris Maguire doing Maguire things
Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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