Before the opening game of the season, had you offered me the prospect of twenty points after fifteen games, and for Sunderland to be sitting in mid-table, I would’ve taken it.
When you take into account the injuries suffered by key players early in the season, the turmoil of losing our head coach after six league games, and a transfer window during which our rivals managed to keep hold of their key players, it has meant that results haven’t always gone our way.
Late goals conceded, a lack of firepower on the bench in early games and some shocking referees have all added to the frustration, but the question is where might we have been had we secured an extra striker and a right-back before the window closed?
Fans are bemoaning the fact that Nathan Broadhead chose to sign for Wigan, as well as our lack of a finishing touch, because the league is wide open and weaker than many expected.
Another way to look at it is to consider how many minutes the rest of our squad have managed to rack up.
Look how much stronger and more consistent Patrick Roberts has been following eight straight starts; consider the ease with which Luke O’Nien has stepped up to the Championship, and remember how much quality we had seen from Aji Alese until his unfortunate injury.
We have depth in midfield and in wide areas, and the young players are gaining crucial experience at this level- which will only benefit us as the season progresses.
This learning curve will put us in a much better position when we have the injured players back, and the depth and strength of the squad will be a far cry from those early games when we often ran out of ideas and energy.
I do agree with the frustration surrounding our final ball, our set piece delivery, and an ongoing lack of shots.
That will be transformed with a focal point up front, and we remain a good team to watch even when things don’t go our way. We play positive, attacking football which was evident at Ewood Park, as we pushed Blackburn back time and again.
If we can add a couple of players in January and rotate the squad to keep everyone happy, involved and fresh, we can start to climb the table again. Until then, however, we must fight for as many points as we can before the World Cup break, and try to find goals from other players.
This beautiful, buccaneering team of young lads will be the death of me but I love watching them and I wouldn’t swap our squad for any of the others in this league.
If we can add consistency of performance, along with a killer touch, it won’t be long before we are looking up rather, than over our shoulder.