Whisper it quietly, but have Sunderland actually managed to string together a productive day or two this week? The thinnest of straws to at last clasp our hands around in search of something positive for once on Wearside and no I’m not talking about a certain long withstanding deal capitulating up the road.
Earlier this week it was announced the club were suspending season ticket renewals which on the face of it sounds somewhat perplexing, but with the inevitable Covid-19 stadia restrictions to come ahead of the new season it actually appears to be a logical move by the club, and one finally done so at the first time of asking.
The move will ensure those who have renewed up to and including this point will be granted access to the Stadium of Light when football returns, with ticket sales to recommence once the regulations allow more spectators into the ground. It makes sense and will prevent a number of headaches for the club had the amount of tickets exceeded the total number of allowed spectators, so collectively we can lower those beating sticks a little.
Wednesday saw a return to training for Phil Parkinson’s men; smiling faces, questionable haircuts, a new training kit and a severe lack of off-season sun tans were put through their paces at the Academy of Light. It has been four months since a ball was last kicked, even on a training ground, as far as Sunderland are concerned and whatever the off-field issues have been, a touch of ‘back-to-basics’ is just the tonic for even the most apathetic of supporters.
Of those to have laced their boots back up once more was midfielder Grant Leadbitter. After what has undoubtedly been a turbulent and demanding period in Leadbitter’s life, seeing him back out on the grass, cheerful and taking part was enough to raise a smile on every Sunderland fans face.
Where Leadbitter’s impact on the pitch may be dwindling somewhat, his influence around the dressing room will be more than welcomed back at the Stadium of Light. You can only hope the worst has been and gone for Leadbitter in his personal life and he can once again concentrate on the football and contributing towards a successful campaign.
As is often the case at this time of the year, football fans are always on the lookout for something new; new kits, new players, new managers, new owners and Sunderland grabbed their first of those on Thursday when forward Aiden O’Brien arrived, scarf-pic and all, on a free transfer. The former Millwall man, whose deal expired at the Lions last week, has signed a two-year deal on Wearside and will hopefully bolster the squad in a much-needed area of the pitch along the front line. While far from prolific in his time at The Den, if Millwall forums and fan reviews are to be considered then this may be a decent bit of business from Parkinson given their sadness to see him leave. Either way, it is a start and Sunderland must be cognisant of the fact they need to start somewhere if they are to end this painful era in the club’s history.
We’re a steadfast bunch at Sunderland, it doesn’t take much to please us and while one decent press release, one decent bit of training kit and one free transfer won’t exactly stem the tide of antipathy towards the current plight and ownership, it has at least afforded the opportunity to deviate from a continuum of negativity and that is something I’m sure we can all open a can to.
Oh yeah, and what did happen to that takeover…