Great expectations

These two delightful young ladies* were a lot more confident before the game than some of us. I should know because when I chanced upon them as I hurried towards the ground, they told me so.

But no one is getting carried away. Nyron Nosworthy had his feet firmly on the ground when accepting his Man of the Match award on Sky (he wasn’t MOTM in truth, though not too far behind Paul McShane, who was.)

One game, one win. That’s all it really amounts to. If by the end of the week, we are looking at three wins or two wins and a draw, that would be different, but still not enough – given who we face after that – to warrant premature celebrations.

But whatever certain<a href=”;jsessionid=0W5FQUMZMMYLRQFIQMGCFF4AVCBQUIV0?xml=/sport/2007/08/12/sfgsun112.xml&posted=true&_requestid=527144
“> sour London-tinged reports might have you believe, this was not an unimpressive performance and it was not a dire game, unless you dearly wanted the scoreline to work to script.One_nil

There were deeply encouraging signs for us on Saturday, beyond those offered by McShane and Nyron. Keano’s clever use of substitutes was one of them.

The atmosphere was warm, the timing of Chopra’s winner as close to perfection as these things get and the feeling of being top of the Premiership – remember when only Kilbane’s dreadful miss and Dichio’s calamitous defending stopped it happening once under Reidy at West Ham? – sublime.

It was especially pleasing to welcome so many Irish supporters. Do not believe the claim that they’re all Johnny/Pat-come-latelys. Some, or course, are though there’s no real harm in that. Others, like Tom Rooney and his wife K(C?)athy, encountered after the match over drinks on the Seaburn seafront are not. Tom went through the semi-obligatory Irish thing of supporting Man Utd at one time in his life. But his affection for Sunderland goes back even deeper into time. Charlie Hurley? No, even more impressively, it was Len Shackleton who first made him think fondly of the Lads.

We do still need to strengthen, as Roy Keane has already acknowledged, but that solid start will help a little in winning over one or two of those players deterred by the geography of Sunderland AFC (eg Leighton Baines) or the self-important belief that we are the ultimate yo-yo club (Mr Nugent, I believe).

Provided, that is, we do not make it all blow back in our faces at Birmingham and Wigan…….

* Great to find such a lovely pair of ladies on their way to the game. If the one on the left – sister/auntie/mother or gran – cares to get in touch, and gives me the name and t-shirt size of her younger companion, I think Salut! Sunderland can come up with a small present.

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