Soapbox: apologise for what?


After our spoof apology the other day, Pete Sixsmith thinks another is due. To him, for any suggestion that he may have gone over the top in his earlier criticisms of Sunderland preparations and performances

In my life, I can think of many things that I should apologise for. Yes, Mr Newby, it was me and not Dennis Robinson who trampled on your flowers while trying to retrieve a ball that had been hit into your garden.

And yes, Mr Weatherley, Head Master of Bishop Auckland Grammar School, it was me who brought shame on the old alma mater by writing SAFC in the dust on the boot of Don Revie’s Ford Zodiac when he came to sign Peter Hampton.

But I don’t think I should apologise for what I believe has been constructive criticism of our approach to the season.

A trawl through Sixer’s Sevens and Soapboxes has shown that I have been consistently concerned about the lack of genuine quality in the team. Obviously, Roy reads these notes and he went out in January and dealt with this by signing Evans, Bardsley and particularly Reid who have played a major part in turning our season around.

Secondly, one of my earlier criticisms, voiced after the defeat at Upton Park, was that we do not take the game to our opponents by playing with only one forward. What did we do at Villa and Fulham? Did it work? I rest my case.

It reminds me of one of my favourite political jokes – no, not Boris Johnson.

Two Jewish friends met in Moscow at the height of Stalin’s purges. One had just been released from prison after being accused of criticising the Great Leader and his friend asked him about the confession he had signed. “Simple, he said. I just said, ‘You were right. I was wrong. I should apologise.’ That did the trick.” His friend was shocked and asked him how he could reconcile his conscience with this. “Aha”, came the reply, “it all depends on where you put the emphasis. ‘You were right? I was wrong? I should apologise?’.”

So what have I, Marty E, Pete Horan and Randall C got to apologise for? Maybe just maybe, we were a teensy weensy little too quick to write off our chances.

Maybe we could not see the wood for the trees or that Roy and his excellent coaching staff saw stability as being more important than flair.

Bear in mind that we are all Sunderland fans of many years standing and that we are used to being built up and then let down. Pessimism is in our nature so that when things go right (as they appear to be now) we can temper our excitement with an Eeyoreish view on life that something is bound to go wrong sooner or later.

When the record of this season is written, we will be able to look back at the jettisoning of decent but limited performers like Miller, Wallace, Higginbotham and McShane as the turning point. The appointment of Ricky Sbragia has given us more tactical awareness and the immediate future looks bright as I fail to see either Fulham or Bolton winning four out of their last five games while we lose all ours.

Manchester City will be a good test. They have accomplished players who have not performed well recently, a manager who is almost as unflappable as Roy and a loyal and put-upon set of fans who will surely sell out their allocation.

All we need to do is win and safety is assured. To think that anyone could have doubted Roy. Onward and upward.

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