WIGAN come to the Stadium of Light this weekend and for Sunderland’s players it will be one of the hardest games of the season.
That might sound like a daft thing to say – especially given the fact Wigan are bottom of the pile in the Premier League and yet to win away from home.
But in a strange way, playing Man United at Old Trafford or Liverpool at Anfield is easier for a player than games like this Saturday’s.
There’s absolutely no pressure on you going to Manchester or Merseyside because there’s no expectation on you to win the match.
You can go there, play your best game and if you lose, you can still get a pat on the back for keeping the score down to one or two nil.
No. The really hard games are the ones where you’re completely expected to win but then have to go out there and make sure it happens.
Every Sunderland fan who comes through the turnstiles at the Stadium of Light on Saturday will be wanting, expecting, needing Sunderland to win.
And that can be a heavy burden for players, particularly if they’re struggling to find their best form.
Sunderland haven’t had much of the rub of the green lately.
And when you’re not getting the luck run for you, I’m a firm believer that you’ve got to go out there and make your own.
With the visit of Wigan this weekend, every single Sunderland player has to go that extra yard because the one thing they can do, is influence their own performance.
Hopefully a shot or two will be hit just right and fly in, or the team will find its rhythm or someone will hit a purple patch of form.
But in the meantime, what every player needs to do is work their hardest for the cause and make sure the game is played at a quick tempo.
We don’t want players waiting around at any stage, it’s important that they’re pushing throughout and if that means making selfless 30 yard runs when you haven’t got the ball, then that’s what needs to be done – even if it doesn’t happen for you or you don’t get the ball, you might have dragged a defender out of position and left space for someone to exploit.
It’s all about the team rather than the individual in games like these and all that counts is that everyone in a Sunderland shirt gives their all.