At full-time whistle on Wednesday night, ‘Three Little Birds’ played out across the PA system at the Stadium of Light - and whilst the lyrics from that song have been sung time and time again by our fans, the words have never meant as much to us as they did at full time.
“Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right”, they say, and in Sunderland’s case, it signalled the end of a turbulent five days on and off the pitch as the Tony Mowbray era kicked into full force.
It was a day when everything seemed to turn in a positive direction again.
For this club, the Alex Neil reign ended rather dramatically and angrily: the reasons, answers, and effects will be sought out in the coming weeks and months, but for now, the club are moving on.
Already there seems to be a tug of words between Neil and Kristjaan Speakman. Rather interestingly, in his first Stoke City press conference Neil quipped, “People will come up with their own perceived view of what happened and that’s up to them”.
That said, Sunderland look like they’ve already moved on.
Yet, this is still very much a team playing just as they did under the previous manager: both Saturday and Wednesday showed that.
Wednesday proved to be a performance of old, rather than a performance of new. Still, given the circumstance of Mowbray’s arrival, it was somewhat expected, and it cannot be understated the significance of this result and our overall display.
On the night, Sunderland were excellent: they dictated the play well, were fluid and efficient with the ball, and carved a nervy Rotherham back-three open time and time again.
Our weakness? The 3-0 scoreline proved to be rather kind to the Millers - chance after chance went by, untaken.
But, yet, before kick-off, this was a Rotherham side unbeaten in their Championship return, so producing such an eye-catching display has to be admired.
From minute one the Black Cats had complete control of proceedings: learning from their mistakes at the start of the season in producing a dominant display, and most importantly, a first home clean sheet of the campaign.
For the club, this signalled our first big real step of the season: a first home win under the lights in front of over 36,000 in Mowbray’s first game in charge. And after all we’ve been through over this past week, we deserve nights like Wednesday.
Whilst some fans are divided on the reasons behind Neil’s departure, the togetherness shown in the stands has created a real sense of atmosphere at the Stadium of Light.
Under Mowbray’s stewardship, I have no doubts that the club will look to push on: there’s no mistaking that the former-Blackburn boss has a decent track record in this division, and his ideas regarding young players, certainly, fit the model in place.
Yet on this Wednesday night, it felt like our biggest leap of the season so far.
The half-time unveiling of our four new summer recruits heaped more optimism on Wearside; Sunderland have recruited well in this market – perhaps better than any other transfer window that I can recall – and it’s certainly translating onto the pitch.
Michut, Ba, and Amad have all topped off what could turn out to be a superb window for the Black Cats. A 3-0 home win, a new head coach in the dugout, three new signings, and two more goals for Ross Stewart: what more can we ask for?