After a run of insipid and underwhelming performances Alan Sugar, George Graham and his team were being scrutinised - and the club was at breaking point.
A 3-1 home defeat to Birmingham left Spurs with only one win in five games, and their fans were planning to protest against the way things were heading.
As always, victory remains the greatest mood-altering drug in football - but little did the Spurs fans know that Sunderland tend to be very favorable opposition for a team or player who finds themselves under pressure.
Peter Reid’s men came into it in good form, solidifying their position in the top half with a 1-0 win against Coventry in the previous game.
The biggest issue facing Reid at this time was how to get more goals out of his team - and especially Kevin Phillips, who had only notched up four goals at this stage.
Sunderland’s goalscoring in general was significantly down on the numbers notched up in the previous season - and it was certainly a little worrying for the manager. It didn’t get any better here.
Phillips’ dry spell continued but just a few minutes before half time, he was offered the glorious opportunity to break his duck with a penalty after Ramon Vega handballed in the box.
The pressure got to Phillips as he blasted the ball well over the bar.
This galvanised the home team and they dug in and hit back, with Sorensen denying Les Ferdinand, but Tottenham took the lead just before the break with Tim Sherwood’s first goal of the season, scrambled over from close range.
In fairness to us, we fought our way back into the game, with our high pressing and physicality exploiting the frailties that had dogged Tottenham before the match.
Don Hutchison found space at the far post to head in a cross, which on the balance of play was deserved. Now it was Sunderland with all the momentum - with Reid insisting we pushed forward to snatch our first away win of the season.
Unfortunately, we probably were too ambitious and overzealous - with Tim Sherwood’s astute pass from just inside our half set Chris Armstrong free on goal. Despite having missed most of the season through injury, the striker coolly slotted the ball through Thomas Sorensen’s legs.
Alas, despite a late red card for Ben Thatcher it was another defeat for Sunderland, whose ten goals in 12 games was a worrying return.
As for George Graham - he eventually got the sack in March 2001 the following year.