Sunderland v Manchester United: the view from Old Trafford (1)


No Sunderland player will need lifting for this one. We have played well against all the top clubs at home this season – and we came within an ace of winning at Old Trafford. Free from relegation stress, playing for pride and a top 10 finish, we can confound the received wisdom that this is an away banker.
Salut! Sunderland came across Justin Mottershead, United fan and football blogger*, when he named Kieran Richardson, just entering his best form of the season, in his worst Premier League XI. Who better, then, to star in our last-but-one Who Are You? feature of the season? Justin sees Kieran scoring the winner (sadly an own goal) but accepts that even this wouldn’t be enough to take the title back to Old Trafford …

Salut! Sunderland: So let’s get this out of the way: who will end up as the top four, in order, and – somewhat easier now than when the question was posed – bottom three?

Chelsea, United, Arsenal and Spurs. Pompey, Burnley and Hull.

Chelsea will win then title because Liverpool reserves will lie down and die, like Benitez and everyone else associated with the club wants them to. Spurs will get fourth just so Kia Joorbachian can sell Tevez to someone else in Europe and wipe the smile off the bitter blues faces.

What did you make of Sunderland fans’ rection to your inclusion of Kieran Richardson in your worst PL XI? Did other selections cause anger elsewhere?

Ha ha! I was genuinely touched by the outpouring of support for Lord Snooty. To be honest he was the only one who got more than one or two comments claiming I’d got it wrong. A couple of Hull fans pointed out that Craig Fagan had been used more as a winger than a striker- as I named him – but other than that it was more a case of you should have included Jason Scotland or whoever.

It’s been a pretty close title race and now you come to the Stadium of Light. Confident you can turn us over?

Without Rooney, I’m not confident we can beat anyone, especially away from OT. We’re a Europa League side without him, I’ve been saying that for a while now. I don’t think it’ll matter anyway because let’s face it, Chelsea will win at Anfield, without Torres Liverpool aren’t even a top ten side.

The cynic would say a plague on both your houses (Chelsea and Manchester United), equally arrogant and more brands than proper football clubs. Tell Salut! Sunderland why that’s grossly unfair – in United’s case at least, we assume.

This may need editing down ‘cos I can feel a rant coming on. To compare a club like United with all our history- The Busby Babes, Munich, 1968, record-breaking attendances even when we were in Division 2, etc – with Chelski is more than grossly unfair its an egregious, erroneous example of an embellishment of the facts – I love words beginning with E. United have always had a large number of loyal fans, even when we went 26 years without the title, got relegated and were nowhere near Liverpool in terms of success, we still got the crowds. Now we’ve had almost 20 years of dominance there are a lot of bandwagon jumpers, I’ll admit, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that we’ve still got a large number of the most loyal fans in the country. Look at the Green and Gold campaign or the efforts of the Red Knights would you get that at Stamford Bridge? I think not. There’s a lot of nonsense around United, with some of the merchandise etc, but we’ll always be one of the biggest and best supported clubs in the world, no matter how many Ryan Giggs Pregnancy tests or whatever the club sell. As for Chelsea, in 1993 they were battling relegation and struggling to get 30,000 fans through the gate, for Mourinho’s last game in charge they got 20- odd thousand- for a Champions’ League game- that would never happen at OT. Regardless of the money they’ll always be well behind United in almost every way. Not sure what you mean about ‘proper football clubs’ even Chelsea are a ‘proper football club’ regardless of how much money they have. But in terms of arrogance they’re streets ahead.

I believe you’re from Manchester but you see United shirts, much more still than in the case of any other British team (though Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool have their moments) wherever you go in the world. Does this bother you in any way or are you pleased with the global reach?

Yeah, I am from Manchester and I recently wrote an article admitting that over the last few years my attitude has changed towards ‘out-of-towners’. Although I used to get really annoyed at United fans who had even a Lancashire accent, I’ve now come to realise that its’ our global support which makes us what we are. The only thing that bothers me is the way everyone from outside Manchester assumes all Mancunians support City- as if!

Will you be at our match? What will be the score?

Unfortunately, I wont be, its my final week at uni plus living in London means its hard enough getting to home matches at the moment but trips to the North East are almost out of the question.

The score will be 1-0 to United- Richardson to prove me right by grabbing a last-minute own goal!

And since you’re studying journalism, what is the question we should have asked but didn’t ?

Even though I mentioned the whole Glazer, Red Knight issue, you didn’t ask me about it, which means you’re either very good or slightly incompetent – I’m not sure which (I am – ed).

TO BE CONTINUED: Part two – what Justin really thinks of Citeh, David Bellion and football cheats – will appear tomorrow (Friday).

Justin Mottershead on Justin Mottershead:

I’m just like any other football fan really whose ever watched a TV report or read a newspaper and thought: “I could do a better job than that.” Unlike some of my mates, I decided to try and make a go if it. Living in London these past few years has made me realise that the north is not as bad as I once thought.

As for my site, Name on the Trophy, well it’s ticking over nicely. It’s mainly about United of course, but not exclusively its merely my random observations or thoughts on certain footballing matters- most of which happens to centre around what’s happening at OT. A few people have offered me a bit of work because of it –unlike you who merely threatened me into this interview!- regardless of that I’m just happy to annoy people with it from time to time. As long as I keep criticising Sunderland players I should be alright on that front.

The first thing to do professionally is to graduate as it took me ten years to get to uni’ so I’ll be gutted if I f*ck it up in my final two weeks. Then it’s to try and get paid for watching football, that’s the plan, I’m not too bothered about the amount of money, I just want to do a job I Iove- or at least don’t hate. Hopefully soon you’ll see me interviewing Sir Alex as he celebrates his fifth title in a row, or maybe Solskjaer as he talks about winning the treble with United- as manager.

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