The visit of a side that played League One Football last year is surely a golden chance to put an end to the hoodoo hanging over us at the Stadium Of Light.
Sunderland last won at home in a league fixture back on 17th December 2016, a 1-0 win against Watford. At the time of my writing of this piece, that was 8 months and 22 days ago. We are now closer to the equivalent date in 2017 than we are the one that has passed. That is absolutely horrendous. There is not a single excuse I can make to make that sound any better. My son turned two that day. Since Sunderland last won at home, he has learnt to use a potty, learnt to talk and learnt to drive. Obviously not with the last one but at this rate, it genuinely feels like that's how long we're going to have to wait until we see the next one.
It's hard to put your finger on exactly why we seem to be unable to find the winning formula on our own soil. It's not like we have had a stream of world class opposition take to the field. We've failed to beat the likes of Burnley, who last season had lost every away game before ending that run with a goalless draw against us. We couldn't even SCORE against them! Swansea City headed to the Stadium of Light with our relegation already confirmed and they turned us over by a couple of goals to nil, heading back to South Wales with all three points. A late Fabio Borini goal spared us another defeat by scoring a last gasp equaliser against Crystal Palace.
The Championship should give us a good chance of getting some wins under our belt in front of our own fans. You would hope. A decent draw against Derby County and a deserved defeat to a, so far, impressive Leeds United side can be digested to a point but the prospect of the visit of a side which played its football in League One last year cannot be looked at as anything other than a win. It really needs to be 3 points on the board come 5pm on Saturday evening.
The pessimist inside me can't stop looking past the fact this Sheffield United side has made a very decent start to life back in the Championship. They have won 3 games out of the five they have played and sitting pretty up in 5th. They're clearly no mugs. The Blades finished top of the table with 100 points last year scoring 92 goals in the process. This is a side who clearly make and take chances.
It is a sad state of affairs that I am conditioned to look at home games with such negativity but it's so hard not to after we've seen so many dismal performances there in recent times. I remember there was a day when I would be absolutely devastated to lose games at home. I would almost take it personally. It felt like a real kick in the teeth and I would look at the visiting supporters with real venom and angst as they celebrated their victory. It doesn't seem to register with me anymore. It's the norm.
That really can't be the case for a side like Sunderland. We have seen the Stadium of Light at its best. That's when we see the fans at their best. The players respond to that. In turn, the fans again get off their seats and are vocal and passionate. Its a domino effect that changes the whole dynamic of a match day when the lads are playing at home.
It pains me that I have got to a level where I can't even feel too confident about a game like this but I need to look beyond the fog of misery that is clouding my better judgement. This really is a game we should be winning.
And if we do, it needs to be the start of the Stadium of Light becoming that fortress again like we know it can, and more to the point, should be.