Heading back to old haunts
Hi there, in the last two weeks we've played three of the teams trying to get into the Premier League - Leicester, West Brom and Swansea - and we should have taken something from them all.
We beat Leicester at home and drew with Swansea but conceded a late goal at West Brom, which won the match for the Baggies. I could see the disappointment on all of our players faces when they came off the pitch.
That showed the commitment our players have and how far we've come recently, because West Brom are second on merit.
Our players have really reacted to the bad defeat we had at Reading recently and we now look much more resilient. We've had two clean sheets and look more like a team that's determined to get out of the mess we find ourselves in.
It's never a nice feeling losing the game in the manner we did at Reading but maybe it was the kick up the backside that we needed. We got off to such a great start under Alan Irvine but we knew it was still a big ask to get away from the bottom of the table. We hit the ground running but then we had a blip and lost three games in a row. I don't know if it was because the players became comfortable, which is not the right thing to do, but the Reading result really hit us hard.
The manager had a good talk to us after that game but as players we said to ourselves that just can't happen again because nobody should lose games 5-0 and we never want to have that horrible feeling again. If you are going to lose a game it should never be by that kind of margin. We needed to kick on and put what went wrong at Reading right.
We have gone some way to doing that but there are still nine games left and we have to battle for as many points as we can between now and the end of the season.
After that run of three games against teams in the top six, we went to Preston on Tuesday and came back from 2-0 down to get a 2-2 draw. It was incredible.
I was sat on the bench and you see things a bit differently, but Preston hadn't looked like scoring until they went 1-0 up and I always felt we had a chance to get back in the game.
If we had gone 2-0 down four months ago then it is probably fair to say it would have been game over.
That's all changed now; there's a mentality around the place that we go to the 95th minute, we keep fighting. We came back into the game with a goal from Tommy Miller where the goalkeeper spilled it but maybe we were due some luck.
I was really pleased for Tommy because he has been doing really well in recent weeks. His work rate sometimes goes under the radar but he has done a terrific job. He has spent a lot of this season injured. He's an experienced player now and you can see that helps the team. He deserves a good run after his stop-start spell with injuries, he's great to have around the dressing room too so I am really pleased for him.
Marcus Tudgay scored our second goal within three minutes of Tommy's strike. Marcus has been our top scorer in the last couple of seasons and while he has been playing well recently things haven't quite fallen for him in front of goal. To see him finish with a cool chip over the keeper was great too - he showed great composure because we were behind in the game as he went through one-on-one with Andy Lonergan. Both teams had chances after that but I think a draw was a fair result overall.
Coming from 2-0 down to get a result like that shows that we have got character and the steel has been instilled back into the players. It was great to see, a fantastic comeback but I am hoping we're not trying to come back in games between now and the end of the season but holding on to leads.
It was our gaffer's return to Preston, after he was sacked by them just after Christmas but there was nothing different in the way he approached the game. Having admired Alan Irvine from afar when he was assistant manager at Everton and then manager at Preston, I have been even more impressed with him since he walked through the door here at Sheffield Wednesday.
In the week leading into the game at Deepdale there was no talk of him going back to Preston. It was all about focusing on getting a result. He is very clever at keeping anything peripheral to the game away from the players to make sure our players are fully prepared. After the game it was then straight on to focusing on our next game, at home to Derby County on Saturday.
I can't say it was the same for me when I went back to Sunderland as a Blackburn player - that was very strange. Blackburn were flying high in the Premier League at the time and were set to play Sunderland at Ewood Park over the festive period but the game got cancelled.
I had been getting worked up for the game all week and then it got frozen off so I was a bit disappointed. It was a matter of getting the game out of the way for me because I didn't enjoy that week leading up to the game. But your professional head takes over when the game does come around because you have a job to do. You have to get out there and play for your team.
I was fortunate enough to play against Sunderland twice and Blackburn won both games 1-0. The first one was at Ewood Park and the second was at the Stadium of Light. Going back to Sunderland was a great occasion because I've got a hell of a lot of friends there and I hadn't been back much after leaving so it was nice to go back and thank some of the people who had been so good to me over the years.
It was a weird feeling going back and strange to walk into the away dressing room because everything is totally different. Everyone was shaking my hand and wishing me all the best but it was a game I couldn't wait to be over if I am being honest.
I was a Sunderland fan and had been at the club for so many years but you don't always get the chance to thank people at the club or the fans because you can't go around every individual and thank them. I would like to place on record now my thanks to everyone associated with Sunderland for everything they did for me because that club is a massive part of my life and they gave me my chance in professional football, for which I will always be grateful.
Leading up to that game at the Stadium of Light, the fact that I was playing against my hometown team and my former club did go over in my mind quite a lot. Once the game was out of the way it was more of a relief; Blackburn had won another game and we were moving on to think about our next opponents. At the time we were playing in Europe and the games were coming thick and fast so I didn't have too much time to dwell on the game afterwards.
I started watching Sunderland with my brother when I was about seven. My Nanna lived just around the corner from Roker Park so we would travel down to her house on a Saturday and go to the game from there. The first time I went was in the old Fulwell End and they used to open the gates 15 minutes before the end of the match so I got in on a freebie - how things change!
Later, I started going with my own friends as a teenager and loved soaking up the atmosphere. It was an amazing feeling and one of the first places I went without my parents. It was like going to the city centre without your parents for the first time - you just got that release. I loved it and I think that's how so many kids get sucked into watching this amazing game of football.