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Middlesbrough v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Opinion: “Perspective is needed as Sunderland settles into Championship life”

“We just may have to accept that performances like the one we saw on Monday night are just part of the journey that Sunderland are on,” writes Michael Dunne.

Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

I didn’t peek from behind the sofa to look at Twitter after Sunderland’s defeat to Middlesborough on Monday night, but I was told by friends that some of the reactions and views that were expressed were slightly over the top - standard stuff.

Social media can be a cesspit at the best of times - so after a Sunderland defeat, I tend to steer clear until things have calmed down. Our fans have an absolute right to use their platforms to express their views and opinions on their football team but sometimes, our passion can lead to people saying things they might later regret - and I get it, because I’ve done it myself. It’s hard to keep your cool when you’re pissed off.

As has been well documented, Sunderland’s performance at the Riverside was pretty poor throughout the game, and whilst the Lads weren’t lacking in commitment or determination, they just never really got going.

When you take into account that Ross Stewart hobbled off minutes before kick off, you can completely understand the disappointing performance given we lost our best player, throwing whatever preparation we had made for the game up in the air - something Tony Mowbray spoke about himself at full time when giving his thoughts on what went wrong.

Middlesbrough v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The start to our season has been typically turbulent. With a raft of young, exciting new signings coming through the door and a change in the dugout, Sunderland have done considerably well to be in 8th place with eight games gone.

The squad have shown a steely determination and commitment to the cause that has been missing in many Sunderland teams in the past. The performance against Norwich proved this point considering all the drama that was taking place off the pitch - they’ve shown grit and an edge that Sunderland fans love to see.

And along with all of this, there is some serious talent in our ranks. In Ross Stewart we have one of the best strikers in this league, along with talented youngsters like Jack Clarke, Dennis Cirkin and Anthony Patterson, who have all settled well into life in the second tier of English football.

Middlesbrough v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

To balance this, it is important to reinforce that the talent we have is young - and very young at that. The majority of our team have little to no experience playing at this level of football. Considering they are finding their feet and settling into the league, they have shown a real ability to compete and succeed at this level.

With young talent, it is always likely that there will be off days - days where they try certain things that just don't come off, and days where they do not perform to the best of their ability. They will show naivity and they will show inexperience. In fact, they will be kids.

From QPR’s two late goals to Dan Neil’s sending off at Sheffield United, we have already seen the naivity from our youthful side - but, this just has to be expected. I feel it’s important that we acknowledge how far we have come in such a short space of time.

Performances like the one on Monday will happen again this season, there’s no doubt about that, but performances like the one at Bristol and at home to Rotherham will also happen too - this season is undoubtedly going to be a rollercoaster, and I’m not really sure what we should expect.

In all honesty, that excites me. When is the last time we had a team with so much ability and potential with a point to prove? It’s a good time to be supporting the team.

We just may have to accept that performances like the one we saw on Monday night are just part of the journey that Sunderland are on.

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