Liverpool 1 SAFC 1; SAFC 0 Newcastle Utd 1; Brighton & HA 1 SAFC 0; Swansea 0 SAFC 0
No one is going to pretend that Sunderland have got off to a flying start. Even Steve Bruce’s sternest critics here would accept that he has not tried to do so.
But it is still necessary to apply some kind of proportion to the opening results.
I expect a downbeat view on the performance and result from Liberty Stadium yesterday when Pete Sixsmith sends his Swansea Soapbox.
It is completely unnecessary for anyone to lecture me on the inadequacy of three games, in two cases against clubs promoted from the leagues beneath us, without a goal.
No reminders are needed about the glaring error made when Darren Bent was allowed to go without replacement. And all the say-it-until-he’s-blue-in-the-face Steve Bruce defences of that failure will never convince me it was other than a lamentable gamble.
But. There’s always a but. At the risk of being caught uncharacteristically with my glass half full, I am not – yet – as concerned or as angry as many.
The point at Anfield was a great point, as should have been evident on the day and has been made crystal clear by Liverpool’s form subsequently.
The derby defeat, woeful as it ultimately was, came despite our dominance of the game in the early stages and, on balance, throughout a first in which we admittedly enjoyed some rare refereeing good fortune.
The Carling Cup and Sunderland are two things that simply don’t get on; I am not persuaded Bruce
care as much about progress in that competition or in the FA Cup as we do. Maybe that will will change as he beds in his own squad, rooting out remaining unwanted relics of the ancien regime and starts to show what his own squad can achieve.
That leaves Swansea. Had we beaten Newcastle, a point in South Wales would have been just about acceptable, however much we feel we should win such games.
I repeat what I have said: the time to judge Bruce is not now, but one, two or more likely three months from now.
Yes, he was lucky in the end to obtain the owner’s desired 10th top finish last season, but it nevertheless stands as our best since the since the successive seventh top places in the Reid/Superkev/Quinn era.
No one would have given him the benefit of the doubt and said what rotten luck he’d suffered if we’d slipped, as was at one stage so easily possible, seven places or – perish the thought – worse below 10th.
Let us see what he can still pull out of the hat in the dying phase of the transfer window. Let us see how we fare against Chelsea and Stoke, both at home, and away to Norwich.
I realise that a disastrous run in all three games would hasten my own sense of anxiety and probably have me joining the mob demanding that Steve Bruce’s head should roll.
But for now, despite the derision I can expect from many fellow supporters, I am keeping both faith and perspective.