I want to talk about Control.
Don’t worry I’m not going to take us back to the heart stopping days of Nyron Nosworthy’s first touch.
Control featured in the George Smiley espionage novels of John le Carré.
As fictional head of MI6, Control famously loathed miraculous success, arguing its origin could not be verified and was therefore unreliable and unsustainable.
David Moyes has similarly cautioned Sunderland supporters against expectation of exponential improvement since his arrival.
The second half performance against Everton would have dispelled any further unrealistic expectation. Steady, if unspectacular, improvement is about as much as he feels the team is capable of this season.
It was not exactly inspirational to hear but that makes the idea no less wise.
Indeed last season’s improvement under Sam Allardyce was exactly the same kind of incremental and attributable success le Carré’s taciturn character loved, and which Moyes hopes to continue.
Sunderland being a hard-nosed team who gain points even when not playing well may not set pulses racing but those same qualities are those which guided SAFC out of relegation trouble last season and propelled Everton, under Moyes, to the top half of the league on a regular basis.
A return to the mental strength and defensive discipline, which meant Sunderland stopped conceding sloppy goals last season, is needed.
Performances like the second half on Monday have to be eradicated.
SAFC found themselves, through no fault of their own, playing catch up even before the season began but mitigating circumstances don’t gain any club points. However, Moyes seems to be a flinty enough character to build a team capable of doing so.
Sunderland will no doubt test the nerves of fans again this season but Moyes, like Allardyce, is thorough and rigorous enough to warrant patience and support.
The improvement teams which bear his hallmark have undergone is hard won but sustainable. Control would approve.