How dark days of April will spur revitalised Sunderland on ahead of Burton reunion
Sunderland head to Burton Albion next Saturday to face another club that dropped into League One at the end of last season.
Sunderland actually won at Burton last year, one of the few highlights of a disastrous season, so a repeat of that victory this weekend would be more than welcome.
However I think it’s the home fixture with Burton that will live longer in the memories of Sunderland fans, unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.
That was the game near the end of last season when relegation was confirmed, following another demoralising home defeat, with former Sunderland striker Darren Bent on the scoresheet for Burton.
That certainly didn’t help the mood.
Yet another defeat at the Stadium of Light was the final kick in the teeth for the fans who had endured a season so bad at times it was barely believable with morale, belief and confidence in the club at rock bottom.
Burton gave themselves a fighting chance of avoiding the drop with that win on Wearside but they didn’t make it count, eventually being relegated like Sunderland and now the two teams meet less than five months later.
Despite two disappointing home draws recently, Sunderland are thankfully in a better place than that dark day back in April, when Burton relegated us, with new owners, manager and a major overhaul of the playing staff who whatever anyone thinks they will achieve, at least look proud to play for our great club.
However, with that honour comes pressure and expectation and they’ll know that after two disappointing home games they’ll be expected to get back to winning ways as getting out of this league at the first attempt is all that matters.
Our away form up to now has been good, two wins and a draw is more than acceptable, and with Burton struggling to adapt to life in League One, the players should go there with confidence and belief.
Whatever happens on Saturday against Nigel Clough’s men, it can’t possibly be as bad as the consequences of the last time we met, but Sunderland have moved on now, with new targets and challenges, and three points on Saturday would be an enormous help in achieving them.