Wise Men Say: Another missed opportunity for Sunderland, but enjoyment is back

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Like every other Sunderland fan (that stayed in the ground until the end), I walked away a bit downhearted on Tuesday night, despite salvaging a last minute point.

There’s no doubting that failing to muster three points from a game we were in complete control of, and against a side in rotten form, appears to be a missed opportunity.

Yet, I’ve reflected a lot since Tuesday and feel we are within our rights to look at the positives of the situation.

Don’t you hate it when managers say that?

But the truth is, when I made the cold walk over the bridge after the defeat to Man City a few weeks back, I genuinely thought we had left ourselves with too much to do in our annual quest for Premier League survival.

The new signings had impressed, sure, but it was too little, too late and there were games against Liverpool and Manchester United to come next.

Yet, here we are, outside the relegation zone for the first time in however many months it is.

Whether or not that changes at the weekend, it’s a position not many of us envisaged ourselves to be in at this point of the season.

That has to count for something.

There was a moment in the game on Tuesday night where a mate turned to me said that he enjoyed going to games again.

It’s a very simplistic thing to say, but I think we all know what he means in quite a lot of detail.

The players are putting the effort in.

Three of the new signings have significantly improved the team.

There’s a new attacking intent and meaningful purpose to the tactics.

There is an identity to the team starting to show through.

There would now be huge feeling of disappointment if we go down, rather than what was becoming a clear route to alarming apathy based on what we had seen on the pitch before 2016.

One sentence captured all of that. I knew exactly what he meant.

But it can’t stop now. The closer to the end of the season we get, the more it looks like it could be two from three to join Aston Villa in the Championship next year.

We have to try and be the team that puts together a run and that needs to start tomorrow.

It seems like a lifetime ago since that 8-0 embarrassment at Southampton last season, and with a different manager and different players, I’m not sure revenge can be used as motivation to get a result.

Going into a derby game ahead of the opposition would be motivation. As well as staying up, of course.

Because it seems some of us are starting to enjoy it again.