June always brings a sense of excitement, doesn’t it?
The last season is consigned to history, the kits for next season are announced, transfer talk is at its highest, and of course - the fixtures are announced.
Fans can start to plan their weekends and trips to away games, and will start to tally up where we will be after ten games (the answer, by the way, is that we’ll be top of the league with 30 points).
Wigan Athletic at home is the curtain-opener for the season. It remains to be seen how many fans will be allowed back into the Stadium of Light, but for the lucky ones that will be there, it will be a momentous occasion. We will also see a familiar face in Max Power. Our captain last season left on a free and has gone back to a familiar hunting ground at the DW Stadium.
Wigan at home is followed by a pair of away games - the fixtures will see us visiting MK Dons and bogey team Burton Albion. Mk Dons will be looking to improve on last season’s 13th position and will have the outside dream of a play-off spot, while Burton have proven to be difficult opponents for Sunderland on more than one occasion.
As the autumn comes in October, there are four difficult away fixtures where our fans will see plenty of motorway! Firstly, against rivals Portsmouth early in the month. We will make the long trip for another ding-dong battle against our foes on the South Coast. Then, in the middle of the month, it’s another long trip to Gillingham. The other two away trips are slightly easier on the travelling at Crewe Alexandra and Rotherham United.
Christmas means over-eating, watching classic films and lots and lots of football. They are often the first fixtures the fans look for and next season we will face Doncaster Rovers, Sheffield Wednesday and Fleetwood Town.
Sunderland are away on Boxing Day with a trip to Doncaster being the first game. Ritchie Wellens boys will be a stern test - especially with Sheffield Wednesday at home just days later on December 29. The Owls are expected to be up there at the end of the season in the promotion hunt. The final game of the trio is the first game of 2022 when Fleetwood Town visit the Stadium of Light.
Easter is often a crunch ‘do or die’ period in the season and by late March/early April we will have a pretty good idea of where we will end up in the season.
Good Friday falls late this year on Friday 15 April and Sunderland will host Shrewsbury Town. The second match in the Easter double header will see Sunderland fans make the eye-watering 800 mile round trip to Plymouth Argyle.
The final game of the regular season sees Sunderland travel to the Globe Arena to face Morecambe.