They say that time changes everything. Turns out in Sunderland five years changes more than everything.
14th April 2013 Sunderland came into the North East Derby fighting for Premier League survival a feat they would eventually achieve ending the season three points clear of 18th place Wigan.
The Black Cats arrived at St James Park having not won there in thirteen years and with Paolo Di Canio in charge nobody was really sure what would happen. This was the Italians second game in charge of Sunderland but he wasn’t shy in celebrating like he had been at the club for decades.
The game started at a frantic pace with four players receiving yellow cards in the first half. The highlight of the first 45 came with a goal on twenty seven minutes, a driving run and a low shot into the bottom corner secured the lead into half time.
The second half continued at break neck speed with Newcastle feeling aggrieved not to be awarded a penalty on two separate occasions. Adam Johnson collected the ball on the left before driving in and unleashing a wicked strike on the seventy fourth minute to stretch Sunderland’s lead. Queue wild celebrations from Di Canio as he sprinted along the touchline before sliding on his knees in jubilation.
The result was wrapped up with less than ten minutes to go as a David Vaughan strike put the game to bed. There was more euphoric celebrations from the Sunderland bench and in this moment surely all that could be felt from Sunderland fans was hope about life under Di Canio and the future of their club.
Newcastle 0-3 Sunderland.
Fast forward five years and Sunderland sit second bottom of the Championship and are staring a second relegation straight in the face. Di Canio has been unemployed since leaving Sunderland in the September of 2013, his various attempts to get back into management have so far fell on deaf ears.
Of course another protagonist from this day has had an eventful five years, Adam Johnson showed five years ago he was still an incredibly talented football, today the thirty year old must be wondering if time does in fact change anything.