Do you ever look at something and wonder how it got there? Maybe there’s a cow amongst a flock of sheep and it just clearly doesn’t belong there. Well that’s exactly how I feel when looking at the beloved Sunderland in League 1.
It’s not often that a team of our size and our calibre ends up in this position and it still amazes me that we’re here so shortly after our prolonged Premier League stay. Although relegation to the Championship seemed inevitable, this situation never crossed my mind, and I’m sure a lot of supporters are in the same boat.
However, the level of support we continue to receive is also extraordinary despite going from playing the likes of Manchester United to those like Luton so soon. More than 30,000 fans turned up to watch our rampant victory over Southend at the weekend, which is up there with the attendances in the top tiers of world football. This attendance defeats the majority of sides in Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A, which is absolutely brilliant and should gain more publicity it has to be said.
It’s been hard to adapt to the changed ways of Sunderland in this exciting new era. Sometimes I have to pinch myself at the games and wonder if this is the same team I’ve grown to love more and more. Of course, it’s much easier in this division but the fact still stands; we’ve become the complete opposite this season compared to the last few seasons. From lethargic to energetic, from gentle to ruthless, but from passionate to even more passionate. No matter what division we find our team in, us Mackems will stick together and support the boys in red and white. Would this be the same situation under the ownership of Elis Short? I’m not so sure, although the support would still be outstanding for this division, that can be a certainty.
Everybody involved in this sudden change in buzz around the ground and the city centre should be extremely proud and given full credit. Stewart Donald, Charlie Methven, Juan Satori and of course Jack Ross should all be applauded for their incredible work thus far, although there is a long road ahead still. This set of players have also done remarkably well to adapt to the division, the likes of Lee Cattermole who have never experienced something like this, although I think we can all agree that he is the greatest midfielder to step foot in League 1.
As well as the new arrivals; the king, Chris Maguire, who defied the laws of physics with his thunderous effort which rippled the top corner of the net against Southend on Saturday. He’s already made a name for himself on Wearside and has become a fan favourite so early into his Sunderland career. This addition also shows how well the staff have done when recruiting these players, that we don’t just bring in anyone, which is how it has seemed under the likes of Di Canio in recent times.
Like a bull in a china shop, we are tearing this division to pieces and showing no sign of stopping. Although this League 1 tour is hopefully a short one, it could be one of the most enjoyable seasons we will witness and is a very new experience to some of us. The team have already progressed so much since the opening day win over Charlton, where we scraped over the line.
Long may this tremendous form continue. I am sure we will continue to turn up in numbers heading into 2019, both home and away. Until the very end, Sunderland till I die.