PEOPLE wiser than me suggest you should never look back and always look forward.

It’s a sensible thing to say – but the nostalgia-fest on social media has caused me all kinds of anguish this week.

Barely a day goes by where there’s not a video shared on social media of a moment in our recent history, whether it be Amad Diallo pinging Alex Pritchard’s laid-off free-kick into the top corner against Luton Town in the play-offs last year, or Dennis Cirkin finishing off a slick attacking move at West Bromwich Albion, or Patrick Roberts firing into the top corner at home to Watford.

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But the one that really took the biscuit was a video that dropped on to my timeline the other day while scrolling through a glut of videos of drains being unblocked. I’m not sure what’s going on with the algorithm but maybe it has something to do with our season going down the toilet, I don’t know.

This video, shared on the club’s official channels, was a highlights video of Ross Stewart scoring goals in the play-offs. I understand the timing of it, but it did sting a little. He was decent, wasn’t he? He could do the lot. Shoot with both feet, find space where nobody else could, was dominant in the air, occupied defenders all day, was quick, intelligent. A superb player.

Taking a break from some back-breaking gardening work this weekend - work which I wouldn’t have had to do had we got into the play-offs, by the way – I put the TV on to see our old pal Ross warming up to come on for Southampton in their play-off semi-final against West Brom.

Having only been restricted to five minutes here and there as he continues his recovery from injury, Stewart’s introduction around the 70th minute was his first real opportunity to show the Southampton fans what he is capable of since his £10million move in the summer.

Within minutes, he stretched those long legs, gathered a ball which was going nowhere, cut inside and saw a deflected shot saved. Instantly, he’d changed the game. That’s what Ross Stewart can do for you.

We Are Sunderland: Former Sunderland striker Ross Stewart.Former Sunderland striker Ross Stewart. (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

Sunderland’s complete failure to replace Stewart in any way makes it more difficult to watch, not just the archive footage of moments where he excelled for us, but now he’s moved on to clearly better things, it’s no easier. I really wanted to be happy for him, that at the end of this injury nightmare, he’s getting back to fitness at just the right time.

But I can’t be happy for him – I just think about what we have lost, and what we have failed to gain in his absence.

In a nutshell, Sunderland’s model should be to buy promising talent for a low fee, turn them into better players, sell them on for a profit and then re-invest that profit into players with even greater potential, making the team better.

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With Ross Stewart, it’s clear that the system has not worked. We have failed in every way, signed a raft of players not good enough, and closed the season out with a midfielder playing up front. The strikers that we have remaining on the books aren’t even fit to lace Ross Stewart’s boots.

If the model is to take the best players out of the club and replace them with also rans, then it’s not going to work on Wearside.

Southampton manager Russell Martin has hinted he will start Stewart in the second leg of the play-offs on Friday. I know I won’t be watching to find out.