Are we allowed to say the words yet? Has the revival finally begun and are we destined for a promotion battle after all this season?
It’s now 6 games since we suffered a defeat and so its official that we are on our greatest run of form since the 9th April 2005 when Reading ended our 8 match unbeaten run but that still never stopped us from running away with the league come the end of the season. Is it a coincidence that the start of the unbeaten run coincided with the change from the much loved 4-4-2 formation to a more cautious (or more adventurous depending on which side of the fence you are sitting) 4-5-1, and of course it was a change that I was vindicating in this column just prior to the change. Of course in our last match we changed back to the much loved 4-4-2 and possibly we again saw evidence of why 4-5-1 suits our current squad better as we looked far more vulnerable at the back against Luton than at any time during the “4-5-1 run”. No doubt the debate will run and run though no matter what the results bring.
We’ve now got 2 away trips to get through before we hit the ever important Christmas period and its very important that we do not throw all the good work down the drain with two defeats. Personally, I would accept one defeat if it meant a win from the other away game, but it would be a great fillip for the players if they can keep the unbeaten run going. It would also hopefully be a big boost to the attendance on Boxing Day also if we can reach that game 8 games unbeaten. Boxing Day traditionally sees an increase in our attendance although the pathetic reduction in the Leeds allocation (why is it safe to stand at half time in football stadiums but not during the game?) and the subsequent ticketing arrangements may have an effect on that, however that should not be used as an excuse if we cannot pull in one of our largest gates of the season. Over the years we have heard all of the excuses from supposed supporters such as I’m not going back until Reid has gone, until Murray has gone, until the club shows some ambition etc. The fact is Murray has now gone, and the club has shown significant ambition by bringing in such a person as Roy Keane in a blatant attempt to show the fans that we mean business now.
Despite that though we are still seeing no signs of the supposed sleeping supporters being awoken from their slumbers. It’s all well and good claiming that the football on offer is not going to attract people back, but the last time I checked being a football club supporter wasn’t about being entertained. It was about the passion for your club and the desire to see your club succeeding and the willingness to get behind the team when it is needed (something that’s not been in abundance too much at our place in the last few years). The supporters of Sheffield United showed that at Bramall Lane against Aston Villa that by simply roaring on your side sometimes it can make a great difference as it upped the tempo and brought them two goals. We need to start getting that roar back.
Finally, I’d like to end by offering my congratulations to Liam Lawrence, Chris Brown and Ben Alnwick. There’s no need to comment on the situation as such other than to say thank you to the three of them for personally hammering the six-inch (they wish) nails into their own coffins. We don’t need players like those playing for our club, as it’s that sort of “big time Charlie” attitude that holds you back in the long term. They are obviously happy being legends in their own minds because they have played a few games of football on Television. I for one am happy that they will be replaced with players who are more concerned with proving themselves as players good enough to play for Sunderland in the Premiership and with a drive and determination to succeed akin to that of Roy Keane himself.