WEST BROM away from home isn’t the easiest start to the new campaign, especially when you consider Sunderland’s recent record there.
The Hawthorns has been a graveyard for Sunderland over the last few years and who can forget last year’s 3-0 defeat - a debacle that ended the brief Paolo Di Canio reign.
But the first game of the season isn’t the time for negativity.
The players have to be positive and must believe in each other and I know the fans will head to the Hawthorns with great optimism and passion.
The memory of last year’s thrilling Great Escape is still fresh, but surely it is now time for Sunderland to deliver more than just an annual relegation battle.
A mid-table finish isn’t being unrealistic and last year’s trip to Wembley whetted the appetite for a return there.
A good start to the season is essential if we are to get some early momentum though; something Sunderland couldn’t manage last year and they never really recovered from that atrocious start.
Gus Poyet has had his Sunderland players from day one of pre-season for the first time - a big advantage - and I’m looking forward to seeing how the new signings perform and how he integrates them into his team, especially Jack Rodwell.
The key player for me this season though could well be Adam Johnson, who is now coming into his peak years.
Johnson got 10 goals last year - a good return for a player in his position - and I always feel he is the man Sunderland turn to when they need some inspiration.
The opening game of the season is always a fixture that’s eagerly anticipated, usually the weather is good and the sun shines.
But a win for Sunderland would make the day special, especially at a ground where we rarely get anything.