Some Sunderland supporters greet international breaks with a sense of palpable relief. They have become periods of respite, a breather from not having to witness the turgid displays which tend to be on offer.
There are those who will be glad to have a weekend where their stomachs aren’t knotted tightly together with anxiety and worry. I’m sure some will recognise the extent of these feelings as those that can only come from being a true supporter of a struggling team. For others there is no such liberation.
As long-suffering fans, the perceived relief of a break from the pain is a sad indictment of where the Black Cats find themselves. Not just as a result of the current campaign either, but borne from season after season of woes.
So, what should we fans do during the Premier League’s interval? Surely not being subjected to a miserable afternoon at the Stadium of Light is just the tonic for most of us? Focus can shift to spending time with friends and family in the pursuit of happiness, right?
Well, I wish it were that easy. There will be fans I’m sure who will instead spend the international break analysing the remaining fixtures. For some Sunderland supporters, there is no intermission. Being a fan is a 24/7 undertaking.
Once England face Lithuania as part of their World Cup qualifier, Sunderland will be staring down the barrel of the last ten games.
Where did the time go? It all seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye. It only feels like five minutes ago since Sam Allardyce was doing his chest beating celebration in front of supporters as Sunderland notched up the three points against Everton. That was the match where the Black Cats trounced the Toffees in dramatic fashion to secure Premier League survival and in doing so relegate Newcastle United. It was a night that will live long in the memory of those in attendance.
However, that was then. And despite it feeling like only the briefest of moments has elapsed, Sunderland supporters have gone through a lot of heartache since then.
Injury after injury has taken its toll on an already poor squad and, despite only arriving last summer, David Moyes is already under intense scrutiny. It is a well-thumbed script that seems to be at risk of constantly repeating on Wearside.
It is a scary prospect but relegation feels all but certain and there is a genuine growing concern now that the Scot is not the right man to build the club up from the embers of dropping out of the top flight.
Yet – as ever – although positives are in short supply they are still sought. Even the tiniest morsel of hope can be sufficient to keep us going through these difficult times. On that basis if we attempt to try and latch onto one optimistic thought it is that many of those last 10 games are against teams in the bottom half of the league.
Watford, Middlesbrough, Bournemouth, Hull and Leicester are all upcoming opponents for the Black Cats. With striker Victor Anichebe set to return from his injury he could be the key which helps the club turn their season around against teams hovering above them. He has certainly been instrumental in Sunderland playing some of their best football this campaign.
With six of the remaining matches in the month of April Sunderland will probably know their fate in the next few weeks. Therefore, the worry and anxiety is not likely to subside anytime soon.
No, for Sunderland supporters, there is no international break whatsoever, just an ever-present state of concern.