Sunderland have become notorious for the sluggishness of their emergence from the blocks at the start of the season.
In each of the last four years, Sunderland have failed to taste Premier League victory in the opening four games.
The only way we can get rid of that fear factor is to get a few points on the board early doors so everything settles downJack Rodwell
They haven’t even managed to win before October in the last two campaigns!
Sunderland’s poor starts have created an annual anxiety among supporters over the prospect of yet another relegation battle, which inevitably transmits onto the pitch.
But this season, there is a window of opportunity during the opening skirmishes, particularly in the four outings prior to the international break, when Sunderland will avoid facing any of the top flight’s heavyweights.
In Leicester, Norwich and Aston Villa, Sunderland will tackle three of the sides that are expected to be in and around them in the bottom half of the table at the end of the campaign, while the visit of Swansea is not an insurmountable task.
Midfielder Jack Rodwell believes Sunderland have to take advantage of the inviting complexion of that fixture list, to avoid the repercussions which can follow during the tense winter months.
Rodwell told the Echo: “The only way we can get rid of that fear factor is to get a few points on the board early doors so everything settles down.
“You don’t want to be four games into the season and not having a win.
“That’s when that tension builds and you can understand that, from a supporter’s point of view.
“It builds from us as well, not just the fans.
“You can sense it in the atmosphere at the ground, and that’s understandable.
“But the first few games are good for us this year.”
To beat the drop, Sunderland have had to rely on a remarkable run of results over the run-in during each of the last three years, with Dick Advocaat masterminding the latest escape.
Sunderland’s 12 points from Advocaat’s nine games in charge proved to be sufficient for the Black Cats to secure survival in May.
But the aim in the Sunderland camp is to begin the season in that vein and ensure there is a rollover from the dramatic climax to last season’s finale.
“If we started the season like how we’ve finished the last two seasons, then we’ll be fine,” added former Everton and Manchester City midfielder Rodwell.
“Then you’ll just tick over for the rest of the season and you’ll get points when you need them.
“You don’t want to be relying on having to win five out of the last eight games or whatever.
“I don’t know whether we’ve been able to do that over the last two seasons because we had to do it, or just because we could do.
“But it’s been two seasons now when it’s happened.
“We can do that, so we have to take that mentality and just apply it to the first few games.”