Not many people, and Sunderland supporters must be included in this, honestly believed Simon Grayson capable of leading an immediate push for promotion.
Starved of funds, even those generated by big-money sales or savings on wages, and not even the club’s first choice to replace David Moyes, he was at best seen as a sound Championship manager who would probably secure a a top-half sort of season. A playoff spot was not impossible but a big ask on the shoestring budget he had been handed.
But a decent start, drawing and almost beating Derby County before a good win at Norwich, with progress in the League Cup in between, has prompted some re-thinking.
If you think Sunderland for promotion is worth a wager, perhaps you should start expecting the odds to shorten. We’ll leave it to you to take a look at such places as NetBet Sport for an idea of how others assess our chances in a cooler, more professional way than a partisan site can manage.
No one should get carried away on the basis of three games; we’ve suffered enough false dawns. It may be sufficient for many of us to look forward to a season free of relegation stress (and remember there were plenty who said we’d struggle even to stay in the Championship).
But another good performance at Hillsborough tonight would make us all look up. If it earned three points, it would send pulses racing.
We said the same sort of things last season, from positions of weakness: losing (if narrowly) at Hillsborough would not be a major setback if we were able to bounce back with a home win against Leeds on Saturday and, maybe, a further advance in the League Cup at Carlisle next Tuesday. That sort of bounceback is more likely to occur this season.
For Monsieur Salut, the major positives so far are easy: goals from midfield as well as from a striker. At the very least, this looks as if it could be a season infinitely more enjoyable than most of the previous 10.
Salut! Sunderland invited a Sheff Wed supporter, Dave Briggs, to comment on our clubs and the chances of a quick return to the top flight. This was his response:
If I’m honest Sunderland have been through the mill a little and maybe a little while in the Championship might do you good, get rid of the deadwood who don’t care about the club and start afresh. My thoughts going into the season is that Sunderland will probably have a season like Villa did last season and take a little while to adjust. I wouldn’t be surprised to see you finish midtable but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see you challenging either, it depends how quickly you adjust.
What I would say is don’t get too downbeat if you aren’t in the top six come the end of the season. You’ll have to allow time to clear the decks and build again.
So for now, it must be a case of one step at a time …