WILL typical Sunderland ever stop being typical Sunderland?
It’s hard to know exactly what that question means without some sort of context of course, but tell me that the meaning is lost on any fan the day before a trip to face a newly-promoted side; one in which the Black Cats should – should – be confident of getting all three points.
Now perhaps the suggestion of this being a game that Sunderland would ordinarily lose contradicts the idea that a win is expected.
I’m certainly not ultra confident.
But the fact of the matter is that most fans across the country probably snarl at their side’s odd result and believe it to be “typical” of them.
Spurs fans probably left the Stadium of Light last Saturday bemoaning the fact they drew a game they dominated. “It would have been typical Spurs had Buckley won the game at the end” is something I’d bet my life on being uttered by someone heading back down the A1.
So, as tempting as it is, I’m not going to be drawn into categorising Sunderland as a side who historically lose these games (even though I’ve suggested that to be true already this week).
What I would raise concern about, is the fact that, after five league games, three of which are against sides who’ll be comfortably in the bottom half, you really need to win one of those games.
How we’d love that to be tomorrow.
We’ve all come out and praised the battling performances thus far, and commended the team’s refusal to accept defeat in three of the games in which they were behind.
But there needs to be a time to kick on if we’re to sincerely believe that this side is better than those of recent seasons.
Superficially, the evidence suggests this is a much better side.
The manager has changed the game on numerous occasions with his substitutions, a concept that was unquestionably absent under the guidance of predecessors O’Neill and Bruce.
He got Sunderland to a cup final last season.
He did the double over Newcastle.
He can afford to leave Steven Fletcher out of a matchday squad without it being criticised.
He has the side playing nice football and thus ceased making attending games seem like a chore.
That all sounds great.
But unless we start to win games, then it’s just words. Let’s see the league table support them.
So should the visitors succumb to their opponents at Turf Moor tomorrow, it may be a typical Sunderland performance after all.
Not because it’s specifically a newly-promoted side they’ll be losing to, but just because it’s “a” Premier League side.
And Sunderland lose more of these games than they win.
The right to win these games needs to be earned, and it has to start sooner rather than later. Or it may never be earned at all.
That said, there’s a sense of calm across the Sunderland-supporting community at present, and the improvement from previous years is evident for all of us attending games.
Ignore outsiders who base their views on Match Of The Day telling you any different.
Yet that calmness could descend into panic with a defeat, if we’re to follow the usual trends.
While panicking would be premature, especially with two winnable home games on the horizon, it would be nice if Sunderland could assert themselves when it’s semi-expected and bring back the three points from Burnley.
H The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction from Gus Poyet. You can be stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes.