IT’S sometimes difficult to see the bigger picture as a football fan; difficult to refrain from being irrationally reactive towards certain results on the field, writes Stephen Goldsmith.
Living in the ‘here and now’ comes hand in hand with going to the game in a way; we turn up, watch our side and comment on the result, thinking we can offer an accurate summation of what’s happening at the club, often based on that one game.
Last season’s ridiculously good run of end of season form should be proof to us that we can never quite predict what will happen.
I say this with one eye on what the reaction may be to whatever result we get at The Hawthorns tomorrow.
There’s bound to be overreaction from some quarters whether we win or lose, we’ll either be tipped for a European spot or doomed to relegation in pubs across Wearside by 5pm.
I guess we all strangely enjoy being dramatic if we’re honest, the game would stop appealing if it ever ceased to draw out the raw emotion from within us.
But how relevant can the result in the first game of the season actually be? Is it different to some random November fixture buried in amongst the hustle and bustle of a Premier League season?
I remember being told by anyone and everyone last season that I was placing far too much emphasis on the opening game against Fulham, yet I maintain 100 per cent that it had a huge bearing on the season and Di Canio’s fate in charge of the Black Cats.
The methods and ideologies the Italian tried to implement were so extreme that the players really did need to get off to a good start to really buy into what he was all about.
Though his tactics were surprisingly basic in style and weak in substance, there’ll always be the question as to whether things would have worked out differently had we battered The Cottagers on that opening day.
It would probably have just delayed the inevitable, if we’re being honest. We’ll never know.
You can’t help feel that Gus will be especially desperate to come back from the West Midlands with all three points this weekend, as any manager naturally would be.
But what I mean is that after spending pretty much the entirety of his tenure in charge playing catch-up, the Uruguayan will be confident that spending a season away from the foot of the table will be a certainty should we get points on the board early on.
He cut a frustrated figure last campaign as decent performances and results could only slowly chip away at the deficit brought on by Di Canio’s ill-fated reign.
A repeat will be as far from the agenda as imaginable this time around, you feel his sanity (and ours) will depend on it.
For what it’s worth, I think this year’s apparent contrast in team spirit will go a long way to guarantee that we won’t hand the rest of the league a seven game head start on a silver plated platter again, whatever the result tomorrow. But wouldn’t it be nice for the stress levels if we grabbed a win?
Ha’way the lads!
H The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post match reaction from Gus Poyet. You can be stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes.