A blue Christmas

Salut! Sunderland‘s lines of communication were about as effective yesterday as a back four reading Whitehead-McShane-Higginbotham-Collins, about as a sharp as a Sunderland front two. Where, we were reduced to wondering until the real Sixer’s Seven could finally be posted, do we go from this mauling? Pete Sixsmith answers the bleak Christmas question

Over my many years on this planet I’ve had a fair few Christmas’s that have been spoiled.

There was the year when the Hornby Dublo train refused to work leading to tantrums and tears at 7am (and I was only 36 at the time). Or the time my father was given a turkey by a musician pal of his and we woke up to the smell of a rotten, putrid bird stinking the kitchen out.

A good Christmas dinner of sausages, bacon and veg ensued for us, and cold shoulder for my dad from my mother.

As I’ve got older I have become rather sanguine about the Christmas festivities. I admire Scrooge and his refusal to give into the rampant commercialism that clogged up a Victorian Christmas – all those oranges and home made dolls just make people soft – but I do enjoy a restful 25th. with friends and then look forward to a couple of games on Boxing Day.

Christmas Day went well. Good company, some canny presents, a super meal (it was nice of the two ducks to sacrifice themselves so that I could hack away at them with a carving knife) and enjoyable crack afterwards. That I managed to get through the day without watching any television was the icing on the cake.

Boxing Day was mild and dry. Shildon beat West Auckland 2-1 in a turgid game spoiled by a two footed tackle that led to a Shildon player dislocating his knee and his assailant spending 86 minutes off the field. And so, with some trepidation, to the SoL.

How is it possible to analyse a crushing defeat by a side playing at 40 per cent efficiency? What can we, as loyal and dedicated Sunderland fans take from this humiliation – a humiliation far worse than the one at Everton because it was at home and we were patronised by Fergie and his big, strong, quick boys?

As a team they were good and Rooney in particular was excellent. Ronaldo treated us to all the tricks as if he was Abanazer in Aladdin and their defenders snuffed out the twin threat of Jones and Waghorn as easily as Scrooge snuffed out Bob Cratchitt’s appeal for more coal on the fire.

It is clear that we are in a relegation situation. I hesitate to use the word battle because I don’t see a lot of evidence of a concerted attempt to get out of it. Plenty of effort, but as we have seen twice in the last four years, effort is no substitute for class and grit. At the moment we have neither.

Not even the founder member of the Gosforth Branch could offer any comfort on Match of the Day. Roy’s face looked as emotionless as ever but closer scrutiny clearly showed a worried man heading for the January sales with a wealthy friend’s credit card in an attempt to buy some presents before the person(s) in his life fall out of love with him.

I like nice presents. This time I want cashmere not acrilyc, Sony not Matsui. We have one new player in Kieran Richardson who played at least two decent passes on his re appearance on Wednesday. He could just be that bit of class that we are looking for……….

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