This time last year, we were in a terrible run of form after the initial new manager bounce. We lost every game through December and there seemed to be little for any Sunderland fan to cling to. Then came January, Kirchhoff, Khazri and Kone; the rest was history.
Fast forward a year and that feels a lifetime ago. Wahbi Khazri looks nailed on for a January exit, Lamine Kone will be agitating for a move whilst Jan Kirchhoff finds himself looking at a long spell on the sidelines through injury.
The manager that kept us up and showed so much promise, the man that looked to have a blueprint for stability for Sunderland, is about to take his second job of the year at one of our relegation rivals.
We had the worst Premier League start for 20 years and we’ve no money to spend in January. We’ve got injuries piling up on top of one another, one fit striker, three players heading off to the African Cup of Nations and a partridge in a pear tree.
Why is it, that given these circumstances, I feel reasonably positive?
Over the first 10 games of this season I was far from convinced about David Moyes. I was far from convinced about certain players too, particularly people like Donald Love and Papy Djilobodji. I think the criticism was warranted in some respects, however I was probably wrong not to give them time.
It was difficult to see what we were trying to do. There was no real plan or cohesion in the side. Then Victor Anichebe came into the side and things seemed to click. Results improved and, as a result, so did confidence.
I wouldn’t blame Sunderland fans for being irritable and impatient though. Look at the rubbish we’ve been served up over the last five years and it’s understandable that people were vocally frustrated. To go from where we were in May to having the worst start since whenever was tough to take. The football was rubbish. The players were rubbish. How did this happen?
In recent weeks though, we’re finding our feet. Those much maligned by myself, Love and Papy in particular, are showing signs that they might actually be footballers after all. Jermain Defoe continues his Benjamin Button act, looking younger and younger as the weeks go by.
The off the field issues seem to have galvanized us all. The situation isn’t great, but it is what it is. Let’s stick together and make it work. If we can get through this then we might be able to build something.
The club’s openness has improved. The honesty shown by Martin Bain has got most Sunderland fans on side. He wants to make us a football club again and I don’t think you’ll find anyone arguing against that.
Where will we be on Boxing day 2017? Maybe we should put this in a time capsule and dig it up after our Christmas dinner next year.
Wherever we are I can guarantee that, like most weeks, I’ll be wrong.
Merry Christmas. Ha’way the Lads.