It feels good being a Sunderland fan right now, especially as for so long, it quite simply didn’t.
The team are on a great run of results and things are certainly moving in the right direction.
On Saturday, Plymouth were the latest team to be brushed aside by a Sunderland side with players growing in stature and confidence, brought on by a run of five consecutive league wins. Four of those have been away from home.
Before the Plymouth game it definitely wasn’t good news when the in-form and influential Lee Cattermole was missing from the starting XI, but it says everything about the squad that his replacement in Aiden McGeady would turn out to be the matchwinner.
Of course, McGeady wasn’t a like for like replacement for Cattermole but it’s another good sign for Jack Ross that he could bring in such a talented replacement, reshuffle his system and tactics, and still leave Home Park with three points.
The Sunderland manager has matchwinners and goalscorers at his disposal. They’re now the league’s second top scorers, though I’m pretty sure it’s the clean sheet his teams are now regularly recording that’s delighting him the most.
Going 90 minutes and not conceding is always a source of great satisfaction for all keepers and defenders. They feed on shutouts, and the confidence that brings is spreading through the team from back to front.
Long gone are the days when Sunderland were their own worst enemies, usually giving the opposition a goal headstart and making things more difficult for themselves than they needed to be.
Instead, defensively they’re more organised, disciplined, and have an over my dead body attitude.
It doesn’t hurt having a decent keeper, either, and that gives the team the knowledge that with clean sheets at one end, you only ever need one goal to win a game, even when not at your best.
The only thing that went wrong for Sunderland on Saturday was Portsmouth winning, they really are becoming a nuisance to us, but at least Peterborough lost and that meant Sunderland could jump into second.
Sunderland are in an automatic promotion place now, just where we want to be, and are no longer playing catch-up, so it’s up to the players now to stay there all the way to May.
It’s a big ask but Sunderland will get better and should be capable of it.