Gary Rowell: It was supposed to be a brave new era but Sunderland are already playing catch-up
With four players making their debuts for Sunderland on Saturday, and a brand new system it was supposed to be the start of a brave and exciting new era at the Stadium of Light.
But if Sunderland’s desperately disappointing performance against Oxford is anything to go by, that early season optimism is already starting to fade.
Anything other than a win in the season’s opener was always going to be a bad result and I am not buying the line that it is a marathon season and there is plenty of time to get those dropped points back.
Yes, there is a long road ahead.
But those points squandered against Oxford are gone forever, we can’t get them back and already after just one game Sunderland are playing catch-up.
To be brutally honest it could have been worse, Sunderland didn’t deserve to win and could even have lost, so at least they did get something courtesy of their favourite 1-1 scoreline.
That very scoreline haunted Sunderland last season, far too many draws in very winnable home games was the reason Sunderland failed to go up and here we are just one game in, making the very same mistakes.
Over 33,000 made their way to the Stadium of Light for the new campaign’s first game, yet another unbelievable show of pride and loyalty.
But the hope and excitement every fan has on the opening day was quickly knocked out of them when poor defending led to Oxford’s opening goal.
Giving the opposition a goal start is another weakness from last season and it reared its ugly head again on Saturday, raising the frustration levels of the fans up another level.
Saying that, when Sunderland equalised, early in the second half there was more than enough time left for Sunderland to go on and win the game - if they were good enough.
Sadly, they weren’t good enough.
So for Sunderland it is one game played and two points thrown away already.
Yes there were new players who need time to settle and the new formation needs working on but if Sunderland are ever to get out of this league then a big improvement is needed both individually and as a team than what was on show against Oxford on Saturday.