At one point over the summer, I’ll admit, I was wondering whether we’d reach the same peaks as we did last season.
Amad Diallo had returned back to Man United and then picked up a severe injury that ruled out the slightest hope that anyone had of a memorable return to Wearside.
Ross Stewart’s contract situation hadn’t been resolved, and thus meant that the player was always likely to depart in the transfer window.
And then, reports circulated around the future of Jack Clarke, and so I wondered as to whether we’d be the same free-flowing, creative-minded and just so attractive football team that we were last season.
But, nine games into this new season, I can solemnly confirm that we are exactly the same team, if not better in parts.
Of course, there’s no Amad and the quality that he produced, and our proven goalscorer is gone, but what is not to love about this side?
Friday night was yet another example of this, as we completely blew away struggling Sheffield Wednesday with an all-round performance where we hardly out of second gear.
Everywhere you looked across the pitch were impressive displays.
From Niall Huggins, who has come into this side after a long-term injury and taken to it like a duck to water, to Alex Pritchard, who is arguably playing his best football in a Sunderland shirt despite all of his uncertainty in the transfer window - this side is just so exciting.
And, despite everything that was said over the summer, we just keep on scoring.
Three goals at Hillsborough has our league tally at eighteen for the season, and what has been so pleasing has been that we aren’t relying on one certain player.
Of course, Jack Clarke has just been phenomenal so far: seven goals made him the league’s top scorer on the night, and a feat that took him until February last season to complete (scoring seven in the league) has already been reached in nine games this time around.
His first goal on Friday night was trademark Clarke, but the finish is sublime, and you just can’t help but feel where his potential lies.
A goal conversion rate of 58% is the second best out of the 24 top scorers in the division come Friday night, whilst an average of 0.80 goals per game for a winger is always a very good stat to have in his locker.
Yet for all the plaudits that Clarke will quite rightly get, and deserve for his recent performances, the fact that the goals have been spread around the team is rather impressive.
Our lack of goals from set-pieces last season has been rather silenced – Dan Ballard’s second of the season, a bullet header from a Pritchard corner, and the distinct rise in height amongst our ranks has made us more of a threat from corners and set plays.
In some ways, we aren’t the same side as we were last season, but the core of everything remains very much the same.
Everyone is on board, and everyone believes in what the club is doing, and so, on the pitch, we continue to excite and rip teams to shreds.
Keep up at this pace, and just maybe, who knows what might be possible.