Confidence remains in short supply as another failure to win a game not only exposes our limited powers of resistance but confirms our desperate short-term outlook.
As Mick Goulding and others have pointed out, here and elsewhere, a draw at in-form Millwall, while creditable enough if viewed in isolation, simply isn’t good enough in our current parlous state.
It would take the boldest of optimists to predict a rare victory against even more in-form Aston Villa, whose supporters are eyeing not the playoffs but an automatic promotion place.
Few Sunderland fans like to be reminded of this, but it was under their manager, Steve Bruce, Mag though he may be and unfortunate as his post-dismissal comments were, that we had our best season since Peter Reid’s flirtation with the top seven and our best away performance of recent times (3-0 at Chelsea).
But if other Championship sides can look at each game at this level as winnable, there should be no earthly reason why a club of the stature of Sunderland should not be able to do likewise.
It probably won’t happen if we score first and then hand the game to Villa, somehow hoping to get away with abandoning any further positive play. It won’t happen if we defend as we have done on so many occasions this season.
A performance showing the grit we mustered against Fulham and Hull City might just give us a chance. It is a chance we have to take, with time fast running out. This, and the game at QPR, may well be our last chance saloon.
Have a go. Guess the score. If you are right, and first to be right, a suitably designed mug – whether you support Sunderland or Villa – will eventually be on its way, allowing for Monsieur Salut’s notorious slow service, to your UK delivery address.
And Ha’way the Lads.