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Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship

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Sunderland AFC have plenty of reasons to be cheerful!

Despite last Saturday’s defeat to Middlesbrough, the overall picture on Wearside is far more positive than negative, writes Paddy Hollis

Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Having a two week international break immediately following a defeat can go one of two ways.

In one sense, it can be frustrating as the opportunity to bounce back straight away is denied, giving everyone a fortnight to dwell on what went wrong.

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

On the other hand, it can give you a chance to see the bigger picture and to take stock of just how well the season has started.

Six wins from eleven and fourth place in the table is evidence of a strong start and although things haven’t always gone to plan, the Lads have bounced back from most of the setbacks they’ve experienced so far.

Another upside of having a break is a particular bonus for Sunderland this month, as the international period gives our injured players some extra time to get back to full fitness.

It’s been suggested for a while that the period around the October internationals would be when at least a few absent players make their return to the side and judging by Tony Mowbray’s comments, I think we can expect our squad to be much stronger for the trip to Stoke City than it was for the Middlesbrough match.

Sunderland vs Middlesbrough Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It can be easy to sit and sulk after a heavy loss, because Lord knows we’ve had experience of it in the past, but I just don’t feel it’s necessary with the new mantra at the club.

Don’t get me wrong: defeats come with an extra pang, but that’s more because I care about the way we’re operating now more than I probably ever have done.

During too many seasons in recent years, losing was something many of us became numb to, and it’s important to bear in mind that during the last six years, we went through a spell during which we lost forty nine matches in two relegation-haunted seasons.

We’re already so far away from the hell scape of the mid 2010’s and with each week that passes, we move even further away.

Sunderland v Watford - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Martin Swinney/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

We’ve made a good start to the Championship season, dispatching over half the teams we’ve faced so far and often doing so pretty comfortably.

We play football with the kind of confidence and enthusiasm we haven’t seen for years; we have a young squad who are keen to make their mark on the professional game and a coach who wants to allow them to do so.

Football is a sport which benefits from context, and nineteen points from eleven games and fourth in the table at this stage is brilliant.

The 0-4 defeat to Middlesbrough was a brutal kick in the teeth, but it’s not a loss worth moping about.

We’ve bounced back from worse defeats in the last eighteen months, and with another nine days of training and preparation, along with players returning from injury, we’ll be looking pretty good when we head down to Stoke.


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