'People feel warmly towards them' - National pundit's assessment of Sunderland that fans will love

Sunderland’s fall from grace was a quick affair.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 2:56 pm

Back-to-back relegations from the Premier League to League One have been followed by the Black Cats languishing in the third-tier for three seasons.

An unprecedented period of failure in the club’s history was beamed around the world on the Netflix drama ‘Sunderland Till I Die’.

Interesting, though, is the view from national pundits following Sunderland’s takeover and subsequent Papa John’s Trophy victory over Tranmere Rovers last weekend.

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Sunderland players celebrate with the Papa John's Trophy after the Papa John's Trophy final.
Sunderland players celebrate with the Papa John's Trophy after the Papa John's Trophy final.

And Alyson Rudd, a sportswriter with The Times newspaper, believes the Black Cats’ fortunes are changing.

"They’re in a clutch of teams who are on 61, 62, 63 points. So yeah, it’s [promotion] is doable,” she said on The Game podcast.

“It’s funny, isn’t it? It might have something to do with the Sunderland Till I Die franchise but Sunderland have become a team that people are interested in.

"I think people feel warmly towards them and I don’t think you can get promoted on a wave of national goodwill.

“But I think they will do it because there is a sense that they have the history and it has been a tragic fall from grace.”

Sunderland sit just five points off the automatic promotion spots in League One and face Accrington Stanley at The Wham Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Indeed, Lee Johnson’s side are eight points off league-leaders Hull City and have three games in hand over the Tigers.

“You can’t have a stadium called the Stadium of Light and be in League One, you can’t!

“You’ve got to be at least in the Championship. I think it might be their time.

“If you’re at the top level sometimes going to a cup final can be a distraction but in this instance. I think it is different.

“I think it creates momentum and I think it proves the changes they have tried to make have been in the right direction and it should give them the confidence to think they can do it.

“They can stop being a slightly patronised club and become the real club they are and right now it looks good.”

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