Victory over Lincoln yesterday is, of course, nothing a seasoned Sunderland supporter should be celebrating too much about. It was Lincoln, hardly a Manchester Utd. Those of us who are still following the Lads through these desperate times though went to bed very happy last night and we had good cause to. Lincoln are second in the league and we beat them at their place. The game could have been very different but for Lee Burge’s save at 0-0 but history will not tell that tale, instead it will reflect on the fact that we went to second place Lincoln and beat them. In fact, we didn’t just beat them, we battered them. If that had been the first game of the season we would have been talking about record points totals and all sorts. As it happens we have a bit of ground to make up still.
Let’s bask in the glory for a while though. The last time we scored 4 goals on the road in the league was an early victory for Jack Ross at Gillingham, a manager who eventually became better known for a rather predictable scoreline of 1-1. The last time we won by four clear goals on the road in the league was at Crystal Palace, in the Premier League nearly four years ago. If we are a League One club (and we are) then you can only measure success against your competitors. We have gone to the second placed team and won 4-0. Now, let’s gloss over the fact that following that Crystal Palace game we lost 4-0 at home to Southampton and were eventually relegated, these are details which we shouldn’t dwell on. Enjoy the moment.
There was more to be happy about too, Charlie Wyke grabbing a brace means his goal tally for the season now sits at 7 which just about places him the top 5 scorers in the division. I’m not saying he’s a goal machine, but his conversion rate is higher than the league’s top scorer. Imagine if we can get the ball to him more often. Perhaps I am getting carried away a little. More positive for me was Jack Diamond. In many ways Jack Diamond represents something of a blueprint on how a youngster should be developed. Brought through the ranks and then loaned out for experience to a team that allowed him to taste success and become a pivotal part of that success. Then he returns and is brought in to the team for action. The only snag in that is that it has taken a change in the management structure to enable that final piece of the puzzle to belatedly fall into place. His glorious finish against Lincoln was a thing of beauty and he’s given the head coach a decision to make now. Let’s hope he makes the right one. Diamond’s pace is something we have been woefully bereft of and is exactly what we have needed to put League One teams to the sword. He provides an alternative to the slow steady pounding that the more senior members of the squad have provided to this point with limited success. Loop balls in for big Charlie and there’s usually an even bigger centre half to knock it away.
After the Oldham game Lee Johnson said that one swallow doesn’t make a summer and that is definitely true. There is however another saying about green shoots and all that. Jack Diamond epitomises the green shoots. We have tried the seasoned pros and now, perhaps, we have a coach and a sporting director who are looking at the situation a little differently and that is something I most certainly welcome. There are still problems at the club, of that there is little doubt. The boardroom is still an absolute shambles and for stories to leak to the press about fears of administration is absolutely unprofessional, but I’ve come to expect little else. It feels as though the Dreyfus affair that, again unprofessionally, was leaked too early is gathering dust. These concerns still remain very high on the agenda and we should not stop asking questions of the custodians of our great club. For once though, it’s nice to sit back and talk about football without using expletives. It’s nice to have a little bit of hope and to hear the right things coming out of the club in terms of football. The staff at the club have suffered hugely over the past few years especially since Covid has bitten at their employment, hopefully that Lincoln result means they slept well and were content because they need a break. Bring on the next one LL Cool J.