We took a long break over the summer here at WMS Towers.
It’s like two years of constantly talking about must-win games, the desire to reach mid-table mediocrity, the need for a midfield dictator and Fabio bl**dy Borini had finally taken its toll.
Seriously, all we seem to talk about is how disgraceful the latest defensive surrender was, how our next game is a winnable home one, and how disappointing it then is to have not won the said winnable home game.
And great escapes.
And the need for a good central midfielder who can dictate play.
And Fabio bl**dy Borini.
So, from a personal perspective, I wasn’t too concerned that I missed the first game of the season – I was abroad and could avoid this repetitive talk for a while longer and put football out of my head entirely.
Now I’m back, motivated, refreshed and ready for some brand new content.
Sunderland’s defensive surrender at Leicester last week was utterly depressing and makes the game against Norwich tomorrow seem like a must-win encounter.
How nice it would be to have a season free of drama; one in which midtable mediocrity seems like a pleasant dream.
It’s also interesting to see us linked with Fabio Borini, if he joins a central midfielder who can dictate play, then we could be getting somewhere.
New content is overrated anyway.
In all seriousness, it’s very disappointing that we’re looking for a reaction from the players in week two of the season.
Once Jeremain Lens and Younis Kaboul came through the doors at the Stadium of Light, I expected a settled looking side with an improved spine to taking to the field by the time we played The Canaries this weekend.
Now we seem to have taken a step backwards with what looked like an organised defence under Advocaat during our latest sprint to safety.
We have more questions than answers when it comes to what systems are compatible with our available personnel from an attacking viewpoint.
In contrast, Alex Neil’s men look organized and cohesive and it’s important that they aren’t taken lightly in any way, shape or form.
When it comes to team selections, Yann M’Vila is certainly a presence in the middle of the park if reports are to be believed and it will be interesting to see if he’ll be involved from the start.
In an ideal world, Dick would refrain from throwing him into the side when his fitness appears to be a little way off.
But fans are desperate to see if he can plug the gaping hole in midfield that’s been evident since the departure of Jordan Henderson some four years ago.
Even if you got the first half out of him you’d suspect it couldn’t get much worse in the middle of the park.
Whether it’s the inclusion of M’Vila, someone else, or a change in system and formation – something is needed to get Sunderland’s campaign off the ground.
It’s very possible that last week’s performance was isolation, of course.
I’d hate to be all doom and gloom before I’ve even stepped foot inside the ground this season!
So, being positive, Jeremain Lens looks like a player and despite last week, Younis Kaboul has the pedigree to do well at the heart of the defence.
Jermain Defoe will score if we can give him the ball, there’s sure to be more signings arriving and we have a very experienced manager.
Well, it’s far too early in the season to be a glass half empty kind of person. We have all season for that!
Ha’way the lads.
– Stephen Goldsmith
The Wise Men Say podcast is available every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes.