Sunderland fans taking nothing for granted '“ but a fifth straight league win would be historical
On the field of play at least, it was a distinctly unremarkable weekend.
There was no result of particular note. Leading and struggling sides in all leagues did more or less what was expected of them; although Fort William kept their defeat down to 6-0 this week.
Newcastle were what polite people call “a difficult watch” while gaining a point. Celtic reached yet another cup final. Manchester City won. Leeds ripped off visiting supporters before cheating their way to a draw with Nottingham Forest.
The temperature dropped. The telly was rubbish. The lark was on the wing, the snail on its thorn ... and all that. Nothing much happened that will occupy memories.
From a Sunderland perspective, more of the same would be welcomed over the next six months. Their contribution to the weekend’s predictability was a comfortable home win over Southend United.
With four consecutive wins and just one defeat all season, this sort of thing is becoming the norm.
Even in the third tier, such form was hardly a given back in August. It was commented that weaker opposition would see more wins. But the same comment was made after relegation from the Premier League a year earlier; so no one on Wearside assumed anything. Why would they?
Jack Ross’ side are still behind Portsmouth and Peterborough and, recent improvements notwithstanding, they have still only kept four clean sheets from 15.
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Supporters are taking nothing for granted. In fact, there are no fans in football more likely to eschew the opportunity of for-granted taking than those who follow Sunderland.
But there is no reason to travel to Plymouth Argyle this week with anything other than confidence: as opposed to the blind hope that we’re used to.
Confidence is not the same as presuming to win by virtue of turning up; and most of us have seen Sunderland do too many stupid things over the decades to presuppose success.
However, victory in Devon will see five successive league wins. As this would be the first time this has happened in 11 years, the fans can’t be dismissed as “easily pleased” by such an achievement just because it’s League One.
Who cares if those wins are against “the likes of” Plymouth and Southend (who would have been only three points behind Sunderland had things gone wrong four days ago)? Victories have been hard fought.
I admit that I would swap places with any Premier League club without blinking. But it turns out that the rumour spread by supporters of other clubs, that you can actually derive pleasure from watching your team, actually has some substance after all.
Third tier or not, I’m all for it. Even if enjoying football takes some getting used to.