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Qatar v Ecuador: Group A - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

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Editorial: Can you switch off from Sunderland when we’re in the middle of the season?

How do you switch off from the Lads in mid-season to take in a World Cup and doesn’t it feel calm in the world of Sunderland AFC at the moment?

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

It’s probably been said multiple times on our pages, but as I write this, it is only hours away from the kick-off in the opening game of the 2022 World Cup - and I couldn’t be less enthused about the whole thing if I tried.

Qatar v Ecuador - you’ve got to really want it, haven’t you?

It was already a bit of a mess, but then Gianni Infantino’s remarks during what was supposed to be the press conference to welcome the beginning of the competition were predictably depressing.

I just can’t make myself think there’s a World Cup about to take place, maybe things will change as we progress through the tournament, but as it stands, I have to keep reminding myself that it’s happening.

The thing that snaps me back into the realisation that we are in the midst of a major tournament is when I think ahead to our rearranged fixture with Millwall on December 3rd and realise it’s still almost a fortnight away.

World Cup 2022 - Qatar - Ecuador
At least some people are excited...
Photo by Tom Weller/picture alliance via Getty Images

And here’s the crux of the issue - how do you switch off from club football when we’re in the middle of the season?

I’m sure some can, but I’m not one of them. I just keep thinking about all things Sunderland.

During a summer World Cup, the season is done and dusted, we’re invariably still celebrating or glad to see the back of it, but the point is that the season is bookmarked, and we can pause for a different experience for a few weeks.

One eye is still on the Lads, and for good reason. I struggle to think back to a time when I was this content being a Sunderland supporter, and I get this feeling from mid-table mediocrity - and it’s wonderful.

When I think about it, we might have to go back to the beginning of Steve Bruce’s reign as Sunderland manager and that first summer that saw the likes of Lee Cattermole, Lorik Cana and Darren Bent join the club, for a time when it didn’t feel like a time of impending crises.

I may have forgotten a brief period of calm since then, but the point remains valid that it has been a while.

Steve Bruce Announced As New Sunderland AFC Manager
Was this the last period where it felt more on the calmer side at Sunderland?
Photo by Barry Pells/Getty Images

I like the way we do things now. I like the football we play, I like how young our squad is, I like the recruitment we have done over the last couple of windows and I like our manager - and I’d consider myself a pretty tough person to please.

There appears to be a sense of calm about the whole thing and it’s a struggle to get too concerned about incidents that occur or rumours that arise regarding star players leaving for example.

A large part of why we have relative calm from a position of midtable is that there is an element of trust that we’re on the right track. Of course, there is inevitably fear when it comes to the thought of certain players being tempted away, but it appears that our current hierarchy see that sort of thing as an opportunity rather than a disaster.

It’s a process that we haven’t really seen before. We are used to more of a “magic carpet ride” variety where fortunes turn on one appointment or the “boom and bust” style where former managers become less of a rarity.

The current owner and his team aren’t in a huge rush for glory and the initial evidence for that came last season when the sounds coming out of the club stated it wouldn’t have been a disaster if we stayed in League One to keep building.

Sunderland v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final 1st Leg
A man with a plan...
Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

It began as a rebuilding programme which is now a building project in full swing that is currently ahead of schedule.

Three home games and an away trip to struggling Hull City takes us up to Boxing Day following return to action at home to Millwall, which provides us with an opportunity to be in a useful position come the start of the January transfer window. But if that doesn’t transpire and we find ourselves in a similar position to our current place in the table come the turn of the year, it would still signal progress.

It’s now less than a fortnight until the real stuff gets back up and running - which in normal terms is less than a standard international break. And if my feelings on getting back to action hasn’t shone through, I’m already excited to see how the rest of this season will play out.

It will come around quickly - won’t it?!


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