Sunderland need goals from all over the squad – so seeing Aiden O’Brien bagging a hat-trick is encouraging

Sunderland's start to the season has been largely encouraging with both Ross Stewart and Aiden O'Brien getting among the goals - let's hope that we can maintain this momentum

Every footballing opinion this side of Christmas is mandated by law to be caveated with “it’s early days”. The arbiters of Football Opinions aren’t prescriptive with the wording – indeed, very few rulings have come down against people who have chosen their own way to say it, but it is strictly prohibited to “Get Carried Away”, knowing that “Seasons Aren’t Decided In August/September/October”.

As a journalist, our newspaper would rail against even printing the league tables in these embryonic days of the season. And I scoffed when Match of the Day showed the tables after the first day of the season, before the Sunday fixtures. Pathetic.

Unless another pandemic strikes, and PPG-rich Wycombe Wanderers once again pack their bags bound for the Championship with a whistle and a skip as we’re left once more to fling shit over each other in League One, it is correct – nothing is decided in the first half of the season. And certainly not in August.

But, starting well gives us a bit of a glimpse of what could be, and a little frisson of excitement that we can somehow claw ourselves out of this division, trampling over those League One jobbers in the process. We’re allowed this. God knows, we’re allowed this.

Football Twitter is a haven for incredulous knee-jerkers, oscillating between opinions like an out of control hosepipe. As a fan, I hate it, yet I’m on it most of the time, injecting the dopamine hit of Not Missing Out like the junkie I am.

Last season, Aiden O’Brien not only could not hit a barn door with a banjo, there were times he could not even locate the barn, and there were moments where even getting the banjo somewhere remotely near the farm seemed like a stretch.

But, three goals on Tuesday night at Blackpool in the Green Drink Cup is enough to convince some fans that he should start against Wycombe on Saturday, at the expense of Ross Stewart, or disrupting the team shape to shift Aiden McGeady or Lynden Gooch in order to accommodate our free-scoring hero.

As I said on the podcast on Wednesday night, I don’t agree that should be the case, but I do think it’s a really positive thing that we have more than one striker chipping in with goals. He’ll get plenty of game time, it’s a 46-game season with three cup competitions after all.

I wrote back in April that we ended up paying the price for hanging our hat on Charlie Wyke to score all the goals, and the lack of support for him was remarkable. Grant Leadbitter was the second top scorer last season with seven, for Christ’s sake.

I used Hull City and Peterborough to illustrate the benefits of having players across the park that score their fair share, compared with our tried and tested method of having a talisman without any able support.

And that’s what you need to gain promotion.

It’s early days (a huge cheer goes up) but to have O’Brien and Stewart scoring, with a midfield that looks a little more dynamic than it has done in previous seasons, is promising.

Seasons aren’t decided in August, of course (Mexican wave breaks out) – so it’s imperative we don’t get carried away (pack it in now). But keep this up and we’ll be in great shape.

Richard Easterbrook