Well, after bemoaning the reaction to our cup exit and losing to Ipswich at the start of last week, there was a surprisingly rational reaction from most people to the defeat at Preston on Saturday.
On the Twitter Space we recorded on Friday night I remarked that I think our fans will respond rationally when they can see the team out on the pitch trying, and I think that was the case at Deepdale.
Everyone’s obviously frustrated with losing the game and pissed off that we haven’t managed to get off the ground yet in the league, but the performance wasn't actually that bad, and I think we can feel unlucky to have come away from the game empty-handed.
The two goals that we conceded came at points in the game where we were actually on top, and the defending against the counter wasn’t good enough, but both were deflections that wrong-footed the goalie. It feels like when momentum isn’t going your way, you don’t have luck on your side, and that was certainly the case here.
It was the same at the other end. Another few inches to the right and Luke O’Nien scores a bullet header, or some decisiveness from Abdoullah Ba would have seen us walk away with a point in tow and we’d all be feeling a lot more upbeat. Such is life, such is football.
There’s no masking over the issues we have with the squad, and we’re still a handful of players short of where we need to be. More imminently required than the other positions is sorting out another centre forward, and with no midweek game this week I’d like to think that we’ll press ahead with bringing someone in before the Rotherham game.
Even if they don’t play, the fact we’ve got that piece of business boxed off will do wonders for the mood about the place, and I’m buoyed by what Tony Mowbray had to say on the matter in his pre-game press conference. He’s relaxed, he’s confident, and after almost 900 games as a manager, I think we should take heed of his words when he speaks.
Mowbray very clear today on the Stewart situation... perhaps some should take heed of his words. pic.twitter.com/JhLeh4MvCI— Roker Report (@RokerReport) August 11, 2023
I guess as fans we always think in the present, of the here and now. The next game is the most important thing on earth... until the next game after that, and then that becomes the most important thing in the universe.
I get it, cos I am a fan like everyone else. We’re at our most vulnerable as supporters in the moments after a match - and that’s usually about the time I turn away from social media and forget about football for the rest of the day, because it’s usually about the time that I say something irrational that I’ll regret later down the line.
Mowbray though doesn’t just think in the present, but in the future. He’s been a football manager for twenty years... so that’s how many transfer windows?! He’s seen it all.
As he spoke about last week, he’s been the man overseeing the transfer dealings and now, at Sunderland, he leaves that business to other people - and in particular, a man he trusts a great deal in Stuart Harvey, his former flatmate from their time at Blackburn.
If I was even detecting a hint of panic from Mowbray I might be concerned, but he’s chilled out... for the moment at least.
So, it’s a huge couple of days not only in terms of the short term - i.e. signing a player that will give us a boost ahead of a vitally important game against Rotherham - but in the long term, because we need to sign a forward who can score goals for Sunderland over a number of years.
If it doesn’t happen but there appears to have been progress, I’m sure I’ll be able to live with that and I’ve no doubt Mowbray will too.
The man oversaw this team last season without a striker to call upon for most of it, so I’m sure he’s patient enough to be able to wait a little while longer, not just for added reinforcements but also for the return of Ross Stewart, who should be back available in a month or so, and there have been no signs that he’s headed off anywhere anytime soon either.
I’m not here to tell anyone how they should think or feel. That’s entirely up to you. It’s your right as a fan to express your opinion no matter what it is.
Me, though... I’m remaining calm. Hopefully, this will be a more successful week than the last, one where we can put our disappointing start to the season quickly behind us with some more positive news both on and off the pitch at Sunderland.