Sunderland at Wembley is another step towards redemption and the occasion promises to live long in the memory
It only seems appropriate to write this week's column about our impending visit to the capital and a well deserved trip to Wembley.
I'm sure you've read a hundred takes on this already, so I apologise in advance, but it's not often we get to talk about/write about/look forward to something like this, is it?
People will play it down, say it doesn't count for anything and that it doesn't stand up against other competitions. On the latter point, it doesn't. The EFL have alienated their member clubs with the introduction of U21 teams to the competition and taken whatever gloss may have been attached to it off the trophy.
But on Friday, Saturday or Sunday when you get to the capital, when you arrange to meet your family and your mates, whether you decide to go to Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square or the pub, whether you have decided to join us at our, ahem, SOLD OUT live show the night before the game, you just know you're going to have a great time.
People will make memories this weekend. Most of them won't be about the game itself, more will be if we win it, but it's the whole occasion that people are planning that promises to live long in the memory.
George Honeyman will likely lead the lads out at Wembley on Sunday. I'm not disappointed that the ELF stance on suspensions in the Trophy seems to flip flop like Boris Johnson on May's Brexit deal, because it means that a local lad will be wearing the armband.
George has his detractors but ultimately he's shown the grit and determination that we all expect, and most of us admire, to get results for Sunderland. To see Honeyman lift that Trophy at the weekend would be another step towards redemption after a dreadful period in the club's history.
Of course the main focus is promotion and hopefully we'll be toasting Coventry on Saturday night after they do us a favour against Barnsley. If our main promotion rivals drop any points on Saturday I think we're in pretty good shape with the three games in hand to come. An eight point gap would look pretty daunting though.
A win on Sunday would give us a real boost going into a hectic end of season period, in which we'll play nine games in a calendar month. Psychologically, beating Portsmouth is important. They are the last side to beat us in the league and we need to make sure they know what we're about, especially with them to visit the SoL at the end of April.
So let's go to Wembley, win, celebrate then kick on in the league. We need to make sure that this is our only visit to our national stadium this season. I don't think my heart could take the play-offs!