I don’t suspect writing this will make me very popular. I’ll get told I’m a happy clapper (I am to be fair), that I’m wearing red and white specs, that I’m in the club’s pocket - bring it. I don’t particularly care, because this is what I see as the truth.
Some of the stuff I’ve seen online in the last week or so relating to the club has blown my mind, if I’m honest. Two games into the season and we’ve got people ready to rip everything up and start again because they’re impatient.
I’ve seen people demand that Kristjaan Speakman should go. I’ve seen people tag the bloke directly on Twitter talking about watching Rome burn... on the back of a penalty shoot-out cup exit. I’ve seen people say the owner is fleecing the club of money. I’ve seen people complain that we haven’t spent any money, when six of the seven players signed so far commanded fees.
And yes, we need another striker, but ignoring that we’ve already signed two (young lads yes, but still, we’ve signed ‘em) plus an attacking midfielder that Mowbray described as a goalscorer isn’t fair either.
Are we desperate? No. How can you possibly be desperate after one league game?
The transfer window closes in three and a half weeks. After seeing the meltdown after a couple of disappointing results I’m starting to wish it had closed before the season had even started. At least this way the inquest into the way we conduct our business would feel justified. Doing it right now makes absolutely no sense.
I get why people are frustrated. We can all see we need help at the top end of the pitch, and the manager has said the same himself repeatedly. He has however also said, on record, that the club are working hard to bring forwards in. He’s said we need to trust Stuart Harvey.
Do you trust him? Do you trust the way we recruit?
I do. Because Harvey, Speakman and their scouts have earned it. In recent years we’ve brought some fantastic players into the club for pennies, players that have made a huge difference, players that we’ve developed and that have developed along with the club.
Come the end of the transfer window I’m confident we’ll have everything that we need, and if I’m proven wrong on that then feel free to rub my nose in it. But until all is said and done, I don’t understand how people can sit and fling shit.
We all know signing a striker has been a priority for some time, but rushing and panicking and paying over the odds is not the correct way to conduct ourselves. This is precisely the type of behaviour that landed us in trouble not too long ago, so I understand the reluctance to ruin the reputation that we’ve built up in the game over recent years of not being a club that overspends in the transfer market.
I actually think the thing that underpins much of the reaction is the Ross Stewart contract saga. If people felt he was going to be here for longer than the next year they might feel calmer about the situation, but as it stands no new deal has been agreed and that’s made some people tetchy.
Tony Mowbray has, to his credit, been unbelievably calm whenever he’s been quizzed on transfers recently. He was asked about Ross Stewart and noted that despite his future being up in the air, we’re expecting him to be back fit by September - hopefully playing first team football soon after.
There are lots of games between now and then where we could use some help in the final third, but the whole picture should look a lot clearer once he’s back around the team and contributing. And contributing is key - if he does that, maybe he’ll get the new deal he’s after and everyone will be happy with how they’ve come out of it.
There’s been a fairly negative outlook on the summer business so far, despite there being some really positive stuff done. The new deals for Cirkin, Hume and Ballard keep three of our most talented young players down long term, and then managing to keep Chris Rigg looks like huge business given that he’s already making an impact in the first team.
We also barely lost anyone of note over the summer, but have added seven bodies to date - Jobe, Triantis, Seelt, Hemir, Mayenda, Bishop and Dack. Six of those boys are very inexperienced, and one is a seasoned Championship campaigner that the manager knows well.
Seelt and Mayenda’s injuries has taken the shine off their signings to a degree, but all of these players have been signed because we see their potential. Dack, on the other hand, is at the other end of the spectrum but can add something that you can never have enough of, which is the ability to score goals consistently at a high level.
We’re yet to replace Amad and still need that aforementioned centre forward to provide competition at the top of the pitch, but overall I think the squad looks a lot stronger than it did at the end of the season when we were scraping a side together to face Luton.
And that takes me back to my overall point here - everything we’ve achieved in the last two years didn’t happen by accident. We recruited some good players, good managers and good people and probably overachieved on the pitch with players that seem to click together well.
That hasn’t all been lost because of a tight loss in the league and then a draw in the cup that ended on penalties. That momentum, optimism and belief is still there, but that can all quickly disappear if we allow it to.
People are right to have concerns and that’s because we all care and love the football club, but sometimes I wish people would just take a step back and realise how far we’ve come.
I was watching Sunderland Til I Die series 1 again on the eve of the Ipswich game and it gave me a huge sense of perspective. It wasn’t too long ago that this club actually was in a mess, with arseholes on the pitch and people at the top of the club who didn’t care.
What we see before us right now may not be perfect but it’s a damn sight better, and that progress has happened quickly, so we’re always learning and trying to improve.
Things will get better. We will sign players - we will sign strikers.
Shit will get sorted. We just need to be patient for a little bit longer.