WMS: Sunderland v Aston Villa is a real crunch!

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ANYONE else got that sinking feeling?

Maybe I should have more faith given the ‘Great Escapes’ in Sunderland’s recent history, but I’m struggling to see how we are going to get out of this one.

I’m getting to that stage where the defeats are ceasing to hurt, and that is never a good place to be.

Gary Foster

It’s not that I’m welcoming a possible relegation with open arms. It’s just that I’m struggling to be annoyed at the possibility any more.

I don’t buy into that thinking that suggests it may be better to go down, clear the decks and start again with a new masterplan.

I don’t think it’s ever that easy.

Manager Sam Allardyce has set a target of 38 points to secure safety, but with the team having picked up just 12 points from 19 games, I’m struggling to be optimistic about that.

I’d be delighted to be proved wrong of course, but it’s going to take something special to reach that goal from here.

Hopefully, new faces in January could breathe new life into the squad, but it won’t be easy that’s for sure.

Just how many Big Sam manages to get over the line before Sky’s transfer love-in on deadline day, remains to be seen.

But for me three or four new faces are the minimum required.

Our lack of depth and quality at the back are there for all to see and by the time you are reading this, the club may have pushed through a deal, reported to be worth £5m, for defender Lamine Kone.

Kone and any other players who arrive at the club this month will have no honeymoon period and will have to hit the ground running.

Sadly, Kone et al will not be available in time for the game with Aston Villa.

I’m loathe to use terms like ‘six-pointer’ or ‘must-win’ for any game, but there is no getting away from how big the clash with the Villans will be.

It would be ridiculous to suggest that a win over Villa would mean we are back on track, on the way to safety.

Just as it would be foolhardy to think that defeat would make the drop a certainty.

But that doesn’t mean that the game isn’t huge.

In terms of what it could mean to the league table, the fans and the players, there is no doubt that the game with Villa could have a big impact.

There’s no doubt that we need a lift on and off the pitch, and a victory at the weekend would certainly give us that.

I’m getting to that stage where the defeats are ceasing to hurt, and that is never a good place to be.

Apathy won’t stop me from supporting the lads, but it certainly takes away the enjoyment of the whole roller-coaster ride that is following Sunderland.

Even feeling angry at a result is better than feeling apathetic which is how I felt after Liverpool.

When you start to just accept your lot as a football fan, no matter how bad it is, then you’re on a slippery slope.

Like I say, apathy or not, my love affair with the red and whites will never be over, I’ve suffered far too much over the years to throw the towel in just because of another woeful campaign.

But can the same be said about younger fans just starting their Sunderland journey?

For any football club the goal has to be to capture hearts and minds at a young age.

And in an age where kids around the streets are just as likely to be wearing a Chelsea, Man City, Man United or Barcelona top as they are to don the red and white stripes, then more has to be done to win over young fans.

Those with purse strings, those in the management set-up and most importantly those who cross that white line have a duty to ensure that people continue to fall in love with our club and not look elsewhere for their footy fix.

The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes