I started writing this ahead of the match against Rotherham - the old saying a week is a long time in football has never been more appt!
Initially last Thursday I like most fans wondered where the Stoke links had come from, then anger and disappointment hit on Friday when it really felt like why always us?
By Saturday I had accepted it and then I watched a similar pattern to other games this season where we’ve played well, created chances and not been able to finish the game off. We tired in the final phase of the game and got beaten by a real smash and grab from Norwich, another team with a stronger bench than us.
The performance from the players and the passion of the crowd showed what we are all about and was a real boost. There wasn’t any sluggishness in our display, it was full of energy and incisive forward play. The crowd made their thoughts clear throughout, the players and fans could easily have felt sorry for themselves and an uncomfortable atmosphere would have ensued in recent years but there seems to be a newfound optimism around the club.
The general feeling from mates, socials and the fan base seems to be one of positivity and defiance. We are Sunderland, we are bigger than one man and let’s get behind the team is the clear message. When Mowbray was touted again my first thought was ‘not that dour old git’. Since then, having heard various views, read a few articles and looked at his record the appointment makes more and more sense.
Yes, a Liam Manning type, young, energetic manager who likes to play free-flowing football would have been exciting. The flip side to that type of appointment is the very real risk of it sending us right back to league one should it not work instantly. Mowbray will steer us through the division well, he knows the clubs and players inside out, he won’t suffer fools or tolerate a lack of effort. He also has a good track record with youth which fits with our new ethos and transfer direction and he gets the area.
What happened last week has not been ideal with days to go to the transfer deadline and after such a promising start to the season. The positive is the reaction from fans and players alike and the unity that has shone through. As we now have a team set up rather than one man making decisions on transfers it means the deals that we were working on and the overall blueprint can still move ahead as we saw at half time last night.
Having been to the game and watched Jack Clarke have his man on toast time and again, Dan Neil glide around the pitch until tiring late on and Roscoe do what he does best I’m absolutely buzzing. A complete performance with deserved goals is what we have been waiting for and have threatened in most of our early games.
There can be no doubt O Nien’s best position is centre back, if he can cut out the rash challenges and continue his current form it may mean we don’t need to dip into the market for a centre half. Gooch was another who shone although I still have concerns if either of our full backs pick up an injury as we are very light in cover but the squad is taking shape nicely.
I only have one disappointment and that’s the streams of fans leaving on 85 minutes. I just cannot get my head around it, the team are grafting, playing attractive football and winning 3-0 and the most important thing seems to be to beat the traffic and make last orders.
Surely when you’ve paid your money and gone to the game you can stay and applaud the players off, the stadium looked half empty at full time.
Anyway, that’s enough moaning nothing will take the shine off a thoroughly enjoyable night, keep the faith and f*ck Alex Neil!