Simple pleasures are sometimes amongst the most satisfying feelings we experience in our lives. Sadly, from a Sunderland perspective I have not been able to sample one of those for a long time, almost nine months in fact.
Not since December 17 th 2016 have I walked into a pub and had a pint on the back of a home win.
Sure, like many fellow supporters I have become accustomed to making the most of my Saturday night regardless of the result, but we all know our first post-match drink tastes so much better after a victory.
Within this lies a major problem, for many sides home wins are a simple pleasure, something they experience every other week, something that is almost taken for granted.
Unfortunately for us home wins have become more of a rare treat than a staple part of our diets. Since August 2013 we’ve won just 18 home games out of our last 78.
This is a shocking statistic. When you’re playing teams with the calibre of Manchester United or Arsenal every other week it’s slightly more forgivable. But in the Championship every defeat hurts that bit more and has a slightly indignant feel to it.
Therefore, it is imperative that we register our first home win of 2017 on Saturday to get the physiological monkey off our backs. We have had a mixed start to the season and the mood of the fan base has reflected that.
Before a ball was kicked against Derby many feared the worst, on the back of an embarrassing 5-0 defeat to Celtic. But little over two weeks later we were unbeaten in our first three games, had impressively dispatched of Norwich 3-1 at Carrow Road and optimism was starting to spread throughout Wearside.
But another two weeks down the line we had endured back to back league defeats, including a meek 3-0 surrender to Barnsley, failure to win at the weekend and fan confidence will be on the floor again.
Despite not finishing lower than third in the second tier since 1995, you would have to be wildly optimistic to expect similar levels of success this time around. But that does not mean we should not have certain expectations from our football club.
There’s no doubt Simon Grayson has been extremely impressive in both word and actions since he took over in late June. He has not complained about his restrictive budget and brought in players with decent pedigree, he has also pledged to bring a feelgood factor back to the club and rid the dressing room of negative influences.
This is commendable but failure to get a win out of our next two home games and pressure will already begin to mount on both the manager and the players.
Although, the lack of funds available has perhaps been disappointing, Saturday represents a brilliant opportunity to get our season back up and running. We have some fantastic players at Championship level and our three deadline day signings all promise to add quality to a good starting XI on paper.
Hopefully we will show the same attacking intent and high pressing that we saw vs Derby on the opening day. It will be a tricky game, but if we play like we are capable of there’s no reason why we can’t toast three valuable points come Saturday evening.