The grey clouds of pessimism have circled over Wearside in the build-up to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light curtain raiser.
It’s not been a great week, has it?
We can still have a good start to the season over a six or 10-game periodSeb Larsson
From the platform of Sunderland’s humiliating hiding at Leicester, there’s been Yann M’Vila’s debut head-butt, followed by a minimum two-month lay-off facing Adam Johnson.
The potential captures of Fabio Borini and Adnan Januzaj should improve the public mood, yet there is very much a sense of restlessness among supporters who have grown tired and war-weary of Sunderland’s struggles.
But perversely, if Sunderland can begin their home fixtures on a positive note against Norwich tomorrow, then they will have already matched their points tally from the first four games of last season.
While Sunderland were consistently mediocre last year, it’s far better to be wildly inconsistent in the Premier League; winning one week and losing the next, rather than putting draw after draw on the board.
Sunderland got nowhere doing that under Gus Poyet 12 months ago.
Speaking with Seb Larsson this week, that’s the crumb of comfort he drew from the opening day rout. It was only one game.
“In my head, we need to have a better start than we have in recent years,” said the Swedish international, without making any excuses for the depths Sunderland reached at the King Power Stadium.
“The first game wasn’t great, but after 10 games, you want to be able look and see us further up the table than we have been in recent seasons.
“Last year, we didn’t lose many out of the first 10, but we weren’t going anywhere.
“You had the feeling that we were doing OK and weren’t getting beat, but we weren’t winning games and, ultimately, that’s not a good thing.
“If you lose a couple, but also win a couple, that pushes you further up the table.
“It was a very bad performance (at Leicester) and a bad start, and we let people down.
“We let ourselves down, but, at the end of the day, that was one game.
“We can still have a good start to the season over a six or 10-game period.”
While freak results often occur on the opening day of the campaign, Sunderland’s collapse bore all the hallmarks of last season’s capitulations against Crystal Palace, Southampton and Aston Villa.
Larsson knows that Dick Advocaat’s side will under-perform at times again this season, but believes they need to develop the knack of salvaging the situation, rather than allowing themselves to be brushed aside.
The 30-year-old added: “We’re not going to have 37 games in the league from now on in that are going to be perfect, and there are going to be some performances that aren’t as good as we would like.
“But it’s about looking at what you can do with those performances.
“The successful teams put in those performances, but then still have it within them to get a result anyway.
“Hopefully, we can start doing that, and then the flip side is that we also want to have a lot more performances that are better than most of what we were doing last season.”