Steve Bruce - Alright is no longer okay...
Well hello there. For this week's Durham Times column, the man Dan Williams stepped up to the plate to provide some thoughts and opinions in our exclusive column.
Every week you could have been reading this on Friday over at http://www.durhamtimes.co.uk/sport/rokerreport/ so be sure to head on over in the future. Failing that, just buy a copy from your local newsagents. It's only 30p or something ridiculously low priced, and its a top quality newspaper.
Without further ado, I'll give you Dan's article. He'd have done this himself, but he's without computer and with a life, unlike myself...
It's fair to say that this season so far has been a disappointment. Results haven't been anywhere near as good as what we had hoped for during our optimistic pre-season, and, despite Bruce would try and have us believe, performances haven't been up to scratch either.
However, it's time for that to change.
I am loath to use the cliche, 'our season starts here', but at this stage, nothing else will do. The time for excuses is over, and with our new-look system, we actually have reason to look upon the forthcoming fixtures positively. With Fulham the visitors to the Stadium of Light this weekend, now is the perfect time for us to kick on and start climbing the league.
The injury to Connor Wickham is something of a blow to our plans, as the youngster had put in two promising performances before Old Trafford, but we can be encouraged by the fact that his injury isn't as bad as first expected, and judging by his Twitter feed, he is in the gym everyday, battling hard to get fit again.
His injury however does present an opportunity for Ji Dong-Won to impress both us and Mr Bruce, something that he couldn't do while on international duty. It was interesting to see his manager's comments about his fitness levels, and is perhaps discouraging that, while we think he is in decent shape to play, his international boss dropped him for being so far off the pace. On the flip side of the coin, it suggests that there is still a lot more to come from our Korean frontman. It does emphisise my point though, if his fitness isn't what it could be, just being alright is no longer okay, and if we need to up our training schedules to get players to peak condition, then that is what we should be doing.
Between now and the turn of the new year, we only play one club that currently sit in the top half of the league, a difficult trip to Tottenham. Elsewhere, following Fulham, we come up against Wigan, Wolves, Blackburn, QPR and Everton. With our new mentality, or at least the one that I'm trying to instill in us here, we should be looking at a return of at least 10 points from that run of games. The optimists among us may even be asking for any more.
What is clear is that, if we don't get the results that we need, and begin to push towards the top half of the division by January, then serious questions need to be asked. If, as we have done for the past two seasons, we hit a slump in January and beyond, it is imperative that we have picked up points in the pre-Christmas period, to give us something of a cushion when the bad times roll back into town. Of course, we might not turn up to games and surrender in the second half of the season this year, but we'll see about that when it happens.
This is a time for positivity though, rather than the despair and melancholy that has engulfed us Sunderland fans for the past few months, so when Saturday comes, and we take on Fulham at the Stadium of Light, let's collectively remember that, from now on, alright is no longer okay.
So there you go. Remember to start checking this out either in print in the actual newspaper, or online at http://www.durhamtimes.co.uk/sport/rokerreport