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Getting off to a good start to the season is important for Sunderland - even more so this time

Having a good start to our first season back in the Championship is very important, we all know that, but why is it even more important this time around? Tom Albrighton has his say...

Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Starting off on a strong footing is key - we all watch football, we all know that.

If you aren’t sure of why a strong start is so important, you don’t need to look much further than last season, where our ferocious start to the campaign lessened the impact of what could have been a catastrophic dip in form to something lesser come the end of the season.

Starting strong isn’t always the key to success, as various seasons in League One have shown, but with a complete lack of action from early November and through almost the entirety of December it seems the onus on a good start is greater than ever.

As we approach the somewhat uncharted territory of a winter break, Sunderland’s league position could be integral to what follows after.

For the board, a good start is the difference between an almost unparalleled mid-season period where planning, recruitment and retention can be focused on with greater detail than is usually afforded to clubs mid-season and avoid a month and a half with an undercurrent of panic, pressure and an itching trigger finger which they have shown they are happy to engage.

Starting well avoids the issue - with a good start comes less pressure, less concern and less panic. As a club, especially under our new guise, a calm World Cup break whereby murmurings of any potential changes are non-existent would almost certainly be seen as an advantage.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

A capable recruitment team and a coaching team who have already shown they can address the weaknesses within their side - inherited or otherwise - would theoretically give Sunderland a head start going into January.

With the mention of January comes the second advantage to a good start - recruitment.

A calm period of rest allows the recruitment team and management to really plan out a transfer window that could well become the busiest January in years. The aforementioned good start also helps the recruitment team really get a leg up heading into January, with a positive league position naturally alerting higher calibre players to the potential Sunderland may or may not possess.

Naturally, this doesn’t guarantee success, but given that so far under the reign of Kyril Louis-Dreyfus we’ve seen more hits than misses, anything that can propel and sell Sunderland to the best players available can only be seen as a good thing.

Finally - and in my opinion, the most important part of a good start - is momentum.

Not only does a good start help to gather a team's momentum, but for the first time in a long time, it would be a continuation of Sunderland's momentum gathered in such vast quantities that our play-off final was seen by most as a formality.

What’s important is that momentum is incredibly difficult to stop - it breeds confidence, ruthlessness and a winning mentality that players become accustomed to and the opposition becomes acutely aware of.

The onus of early-season momentum is also exacerbated by the rather unusual situation of so many sides in the lower half of the Championship being on the precipice of financial ruin and almost certainly a points deduction. What’s more, should any sides find themselves in this precarious position, the siege mentality this can breed makes sides affected by this dangerous to face (see Derby County last season) - the value of being clear of any dogfight from an early stage must not be underestimated.

All in all, Sunderland find themselves in an almost alien position, especially in relation to the last decade. For the first time in an age, we have momentum, a young, ambitious side and an owner with lofty ambitions and high expectations.

Taking advantage of this is key, from the on-field confidence to the incredible support that has seen Sunderland creep towards 30,000 season ticket holders.

In a season and a league that is fiercely competitive yet filled with so many unknowns, should Sunderland really take advantage of the position they find themselves in and start strongly, who knows where we’ll end up.


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