Things that are changing for the better already for Sunderland - bring on Norwich & Leeds


Its funny how time can change things in football. Styles of play, various club ownership, transfer valuations and lengths of shorts to name a few. It has taken only two weeks but my outlook for the season ahead is suddenly looking more glass half full than half empty. 


I'm as fickle as they come. As are most football fans. So unless you suffer with amnesia, you may remember my piece last week where I couldn't find a whole lot to be positive about after the Celtic embarrassment. I doubted Kone's effort. I bemoaned the players frailties. I complained about Jason Steele. I whinged about James Vaughan missing two penalties in preseason (although that may be justified until I see him put away a goal of some sort!).

Yet here I am less than a fortnight later and everything feels different. I am not oblivious to the fact that we only drew with Derby County and beat a lower league team by the single goal in a League Cup game, but it still feels so much better than I expected. So much better than I HOPED. 

My backside was twitching like a rabbits nose ahead of the match against Derby and the words 'Here we go again' were uttered out of my mouth when Bradley Johnson put the Rams ahead after only 11 minutes.

But the important thing is the players clearly didn't think that. Heads of the men in red and white didn't drop. We picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves down and went again. We carried on and had the same gusto with which we started the game. It is all too familiar for Sunderland to collapse after those setbacks, as we saw plenty of times last year. We never recovered after conceding a goal first which when you're playing at home, is inexcusable. 

We resumed play with the passion and effort that had been so lacking in recent memory. One of the first things I remember Simon Grayson saying on landing the job was he would get players playing for the shirt and playing like they want to do well for Sunderland. That's exactly how it felt. We worked hard. We showed desire and we got the equaliser we richly deserved, scored from the penalty spot by Lewis Grabban just before half time. Still, the whole content of this article could of been so different had James Vaughan stepped up to take it!

Against Bury in the Energy Drink Cup, we were dominant. We played some half decent stuff. We had most of the possession and if it wasn't for a great save from an Aiden McGeady effort and a slip at a crucial time from Wahbi Khazri with the goal at his mercy, we'd have been looking at a scoreline that was as comfortable as the performance suggested. We never left first gear. The winner from George Honeyman was worthy of winning any game and he deserved to be the match winner. He was simply superb at Gigg Lane. 

Aiden McGeady has looked real quality on the left hand side. Combining trickery and a wicked delivery in to the box that we are crying out for a target man to get on the end of. Jordan Hugill anyone? 

Lewis Grabban looks capable of being a thorn in the side of the defences in this division, opening his tally against Derby County with a coolly taken penalty will hopefully be the first of a good return of goals this season. 

Tyias Browning looks a beast at the back and is showing his class and in my mind, is looking like he could be a hell of a signing for us. I've been very impressed with him so far and Lamine Kone, if he has his right head on, could be a brick wall at this level.
 
With the addition of a target man and a real presence up front, combined with the performances we have seen so far, this season could end up being the complete polar opposite to my original fears. Only time will tell, but time is a great thing in football and against Norwich on Sunday, things could get even better!

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