On the last day of the season a strong North Sea wind swept through the Stadium of Light, clearing out the last debris of what turned out to be a turbulent nine months.
And these winds of change weren’t just blowing on Wearside. They were seemingly present up and down the whole of Britain as Rangers were saved at the twelfth hour; a resurgent Wigan enjoyed asecond wind as the sails of their neighbours hung emptily; and, of course, the mantle of power was carried just beyond the grasp of United’s Old Boys and into the reach of a fresh-faced Manchester City.
Who could’ve guessed all this drama would come to a head on the final day?
Being lucky enough to attend Sunday’s match I got to see first-hand the changing of this guard. As the final whistle blew time seemed to pause whilst everyone held their breath, until the news from London pinged up on the large LCD screen directly above the visiting fans.Their shocked silence was immediately drowned by the roar of the South-West Stand and my father humourously noted that for them, the road back to Surrey would be a long one.
However, Manchester isn’t the only City where this wind of change had such a massive effect. Our season was effectively restarted as Martin O’Neill came in and saved us from the fate that Blustering Bruce was inevitably leading us to. Not that anyone is keen to dwell on that any further – why would we, when the future seems to be a much more exciting place.
This change has brought in a great swell of optimism, and it’ll undoubtedly be followed by some fresh faces after the summer break. Maybe that joyful anticipation will not only be confined to just the great cities of Sunderland and Manchester but, depending on how Mr. Hodgson fares in Ukraine, the entire country. His appointment caught everyone off-guard and was met with an equal amount of surprise.
Personally I think he’ll do well in the long run, maybe not with this campaign, which realistically is probably going to be a bit of a write-off, but in the future his effect will be felt. Reading up on him it seems he likes to play the long-game strategy, putting down strong foundations and remolding the culture to ensure that Britannia will once again rule the waves.
This style of management has brought him much success in his long, cultured career and I imagine is what O’Neill has in mind for our beloved Sunderland (not that I would dare presume to know what he’s thinking, of course). It also brings along respect from the players, too. Knowing that both Hodgson and O’Neill have a proven track record in other leagues, managing the kind of players that so often get the better of us, will give more meaning and power to his words.
But going back to Sunday, I believe that our eruption of elation at the City result wasn’t just us rubbing salt in United’s wounds, but a way of expressing our shared hope for the future, a shared vision that our time has come, once more, to be the team people outside our region rightfully refer to as the dominant ones. Maybe that roar was a statement of intent? At least, that’s partly how I felt at the time anyway.Obviously I can’t speak for my fellow black cat fans.
There is one thing I do know one for sure, though, and that is next season the party with Marty will kick off properly. So for now, let’s just enjoy the calm before the next hurricane season hits.