The appointment of Simon Grayson was met with tepid acceptance. Preseason has been a bit meh. Signings have been of the uninspiring level (although excellent value) we all expected. Are Sunderland really set for a season of 'nothing to see here'?
I don't think there are too many predictions from pundits or fans suggesting Sunderland have the tools for an immediate return to the Premier League. Grayson's main task feels like it is to steady a rapidly sinking ship, mending the gaping holes caused by a decade or so of mismanagement and ill-motivated, overpaid players purchased during the madness of our Premier League transfer windows. Not an easy or simple feat.
The bookies think just the same. William Hill Betting are offering shorter odds for Sunderland to slip to the third tier of English football above winning the league at the first time of asking like the Mags managed last season. It's a little disheartening, but far from surprising and testament to the state Sunderland have plunged themselves into. Blame Woy. It's 12/1 for relegation and 14/1 to end the campaign as Champions, with the general consensus being that we are challenging, at best, for a play off spot.
I'd take a playoff position now. They are fantastic occasions and we have a scar that has needed healing since 1998 - which unbelievably will be 20 years ago by the time the play off final approaches at the end of the season.
However, that's not to say Sunderland can't challenge for automatic promotion, but to do so Grayson needs to find something special from our youth - something that perhaps the likes of Josh Maja and Lyndon Gooch can provide. Wahbi Khazri and Jeremain Lens really do have the talent to tear this league apart, but the likelihood of either being up for staying on Wearside this season is slim to none.
If nothing else we can at least expect to win some home games, score some goals and ultimately enjoy football again. Let's put the anguish and anger of past years behind us and concentrate on another season in a fantastic league full of underrated football. Let's enjoy nobody talking about Sunderland for once except us. Let's look forward to the weekend, instead of dreading it more than we dread Monday mornings.
I want to love my club again and if that means dossing about in the Championship for a few years I am all for it.