Sunderland sealed their first win of the Chris Coleman era on Saturday, running out 2-0 winners at the Staffordshire home of Burton Albion, the Pirelli Stadium. Chris Coleman is up and running.
It was only three points. Not enough to get us out of the sticky situation we still find ourselves in but despite that, it felt like something much bigger happened. A breakthrough of sorts. All of a sudden there was much more than just your average light at the end of the tunnel. It was more like a blinding light and a hand reaching out to guide us. It was the hand of Chris Coleman.
Our position in the league table doesn't lie. We are where we are because we haven't been good enough. We haven't won enough games. We haven't kept enough clean sheets and ultimately we haven't scored more goals than the opposition often enough. One of the reasons for this has been plain to see for everyone.
The man in the dugout.
As Sunderland fans we always say that one of the things we want to see from the men who represent our club is passion. It's an emotion that runs through the city and an emotion that follows us in to the stands on matchdays.
We want to see those wearing the badge showing us that it means something to them to be wearing our famous red and white stripes. Wearing them as proudly as we do. It's all well and good seeing players kissing the badge of their new club after scoring on their debuts (Darrent Bent and Aston Villa, I am looking at you!) but it's sometimes too easy to see through all of that.
David Moyes had none of it. Simon Grayson didn't show much either. Coleman is showing us something that has been lacking for a long time. Genuine passion for this football club even after such a short time.
I was impressed enough already after taking in his first press conference. He spoke well and spoke in a way that was inspiring, giving me something to believe in again. I was all too numb after seeing so many heartless performances from Sunderland. I almost didn't care about getting beat. I had stopped getting nervous before games because it felt like the fire had gone out.
But then after hearing Cookie, as he is known, speaking so highly of the football club, speaking with such honesty about the draw of coming here and believing in himself that he was the man to turn us around, speaking of moving his family to the area so he can fully dedicate himself to the job and immerse himself in all that's around him, something suddenly felt different to me. Like that void that had been empty for so long had finally looked like it was going to be filled.
Getting beat by Aston Villa felt sickening, even though it was fully expected. This wasn't a feeling I was used to. I almost had to double check my emotions to make sure I really was feeling gutted that we'd got beat. Coleman had started to unearth those emotions that had since been locked away in a cupboard like that sweater your Nan got you for Christmas one year that you never wear but you just keep it because you're waiting for that special occasion where it is perfectly suited.
That's how it's felt supporting Sunderland recently for me. The love is still there somewhere, it's just waiting to be rekindled when the perfect time comes.
Fast forward to 5pm on Saturday evening. Sunderland had won at last. So what if it was 'only' Burton. So what, if it was against a team that run us close for poor home records this season. The bit that got me, was the sight of Coleman applauding the away fans. Roaring 'Come on!' to the euphoric away end. The fans responded in the only way we know, with a wall of noise and that magic word again, passion.
In those few seconds, I knew we were on to something. The best managers here in recent times have oozed passion and character. Who can forget Sam Allardyce, 3 or 4 minutes in to Norwich away wading his way in to the touchline scuffle, fighting for the cause. It was at that point, I knew we'd win that game. We did, sealing a crucial 3-0 victory. It was the same when seeing those few seconds of the new boss that I know we'll be alright in the end.
Our club is built around passion, spirit and determination. Qualities that Keano brought to us in his tenure and the place was rocking. Allardyce brought it and that was when we felt we'd clicked. Managers who maybe weren't the greatest tacticians but they brought passion to our football club. If Coleman carries on in this way, I have a feeling things are due to get better very soon.
Passion doesn't guarantee success but I have a feeling we're slowly, slowly getting back to remembering what it's like to enjoy supporting Sunderland. From there, there is a whole domino effect of positivity that helps us gain momentum.
And once we gain momentum, we all know we take some stopping.