A few weeks ago when Chris Coleman was unveiled as Sunderland manager, I wrote on WAW about what a positive appointment I and many others thought it was.
I hoped that the next few months would lead to a gradual turning of our fortunes which would prove that the club was not shrouded in some kind of hoodoo and another relegation was not inevitable, but rather that our current predicament was simply the result of long term and large scale mismanagement both on and off the pitch.
Now I realise that a couple of swallows don’t make a summer, but surely the last few weeks has given us something to cling to for the rest of the season and beyond. With the exception of the Reading game, there has been a marked improvement in performance and most importantly in the short term, results – two victories and three clean sheets.
As well as the results, I’ve found Coleman’s positive approach striking. His comments about our club, the supporters and the players really have been a shot in the arm, and judging by recent games, it looks as if Coleman’s positivity, determination and inner confidence is slowly rubbing off on the players. To me this has been illustrated by the doggedness at Wolves and the willingness to take more chances in front of the home crowd against Fulham.
On top of this, Coleman’s willingness to put his faith in those players who deserve it has also been very welcome. All too often, although previous manager’s may have said otherwise, a number have clearly felt an obligation to select players because of their reputation, they spent good money on them, their former glories or their salary, whereas Coleman’s actions as well as his words have shown that where he has the option he is selecting players because of their form, enthusiasm and hunger to succeed.
For a range of reasons, the starting eleven on Saturday did not include established but underperforming players such as Lamine Kone, Didier Ndong, Jack Rodwell, Lee Cattermole, Aiden McGeady or Callum McManaman, but did include Donald Love, George Honeyman and Lynden Gooch. More significant still was the ballsy decision to swap Lewis Grabban and James Vaughan for Joel Asoro and Josh Maja which obviously went a long way to securing the three points and that annual festive treat - a home win.
Yes, I acknowledge that Coleman’s reign is still in its infancy, but as you can probably tell his positivity is certainly rubbing off on me. So far, it looks as though he is relishing the huge challenge in front of him and not being weighed down by the past failures of others – a burden that some of his very experienced predecessors found too big to bear.
This to me is summed up by a quote I stumbled across recently - in the days before American Presidents tweeted their pearls of wisdom, Lyndon B Johnson wrote, ‘Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose’. I’m sure that he didn’t have SAFC or Coleman in mind when he came up with this little nugget, but it certainly seems very apt when thinking about the way in which Coleman is going about his business.