Buoyed by the good feelings and positivity that were born the season before, the players can continue their upward trend – momentum and an air of invincibility helping to ensure that further progress is made.
Alternatively, a promoted team can instantly shown to be out of their depth at the higher grade, and any confidence that lingers from the successful campaign prior quickly evaporates.
However, Sunderland – enjoying a return to the second tier of English football for the first time in four years – have managed to buck both of those trends.
They have settled into mid-table comfort after an inconsistent start to the 2022/23 campaign, but some encouraging performances have restored the confidence of the club’s fans and punters. At the time of writing, only eight teams were priced at shorter odds than Sunderland to finish inside the top six of the Championship, and there will be plenty using their bet 10 get 30 offer from Betfair to get behind the Black Cats.
Australian defender Bailey Wright believes that his teammates have to continue believing in themselves. The 30-year-old, who has 27 caps for the Socceroos to his name, has admitted that the standard of play has ‘definitely gone up a notch’ from League One, but believes that the togetherness and quality in the Sunderland ranks will be enough for them to surprise plenty this term.
“We have a really good squad, and I think we will back ourselves to get stronger and stronger throughout the season.”
Wright’s own progress has been hampered by a shortened pre-season, which came about as a direct consequence of his involvement in Australia’s World Cup qualifying campaign. He has lost his place in the starting eleven accordingly, but hopes to be back in Alex Neil’s thoughts imminently – after all, he was an integral figure in Sunderland’s promotion last term having featured in 37 of their 46 games.
After celebrating the Socceroos’ qualifying for Qatar 2022, Wright is now focused once more on the job at hand. “My aim is to get myself prepared and to push for a shirt in the starting XI,” he said.
Stewart Singing the Right Notes
Standing more than 6ft tall and with jet black hair, Ross Stewart isn’t going to be confused with his near-namesake – diminutive warbler Rod Stewart – any time soon.
But the 26-year-old is hitting all the right notes in front of goal at the moment, and has already notched two strikes in four Championship games this term to go with the 26 he plundered last season.
With two assists already as well, it’s evident that Stewart is maturing as a player and adding new strings to his bow, and keeping the Scot fit and firing will be crucial to Sunderland’s chances of challenging for a top-half berth this term.
And if his teammates kick on then who knows; maybe Ross Stewart, like the title of near-namesake Rod’s biggest hit, will be sailing towards the Premier League.