Jones looking to future for inspiration at Cats matches
FOR most Sunderland fans, last month’s 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest is a game they will want to forget.
Having outplayed the Tricky Trees for 86 minutes, they then conceded a sucker-punch goal, inevitably scored by former Black Cat Daryl Murphy.
It was a miserable night for a club who just cannot catch a break at the Stadium of Light, where they have not won since December in any competition.
But for Billy Jones, it was a reminder of what is possible if Sunderland can only break the sequence. In the Championship relegation zone, they need to do it sooner rather than later and with three of their four games on home soil, it may as well be October.
“We obviously want to get back to winning ways there to turn it back into a fortress because it’s a ground which when it’s full, is very intimidating for opposition teams,” says Jones. “When you’re performing well, the fans are right behind you and they’ve shown that.
“I remember the Nottingham Forest game where it was disappointing that we lost the game but I think the fans really appreciated the effort that had gone in from the boys.
“The gaffer’s always spoken about that. If you work hard, show your commitment and show you’re trying to do the right, positive things in the right areas, they’ll back you all the way.
“I think that was very evident in that Forest game where even though it was a very disappointing result, they still appreciated the effort that had gone in.
“We have to show that every week by being consistent and hopefully the results will come. It would be great to get off this bad losing streak at home and turn it into a bit of a fortress. We just have to know that once we get that first win, we can get two, three, four on the bounce at home. “It’s just as the gaffer says, trying to enjoy being at home, try not to feel the pressure, try to play with freedom and the fans will appreciate it if you’re trying to do that. “They want to see entertaining football in the final third and we want to make sure we eradicate the simple mistakes because clean sheets are going to be massive for us as well. We’re yet to achieve one (in the league this season) and we want to get that as well. If you get that, you win games.”
Reconnecting with their supporters is important for the Black Cats. Although they would be happy if the Championship table was decided on gates rather than football – they are third on the first measure, onefrom-bottom on the other – crowds are declining and an average attendance of 28,438 leaves around 20,000 unfilled seats.
Jones has been involved in the latest off-field measure to try to address that, visiting Marsden Primary School in Whitburn to launch the club’s “Fan Fest” – a free open training session-cum-half-term family fund day on October 23.
Jones sees the importance keeping supporters onside.
“To be honest, it’s massive,” he says. “I’m not on social media so I of