Imagine: top of the Premier without needing to fret about Manchester United’s game in hand. Even writing the headline could make you feel dizzy. It is such a priceless thought that Salut! Sunderland will leave to others to conduct their own mental arithmetic and conclude whether Bill Taylor, in the first of our mid-term reviews as we approach the end of the year, has his sums right …
Here we are, getting closer to the halfway point of the season and the Cats are, give or take a place, two-thirds of the way up the Premier League table and only 10 points behind Manchester Untied.
Not so dusty, eh?
Well, yes and no.
Seventh place is not to be sneezed at. In spite of that debacle at Sid James Park, we’re a couple of points ahead of the Mags and a couple ahead of Liverpool, too.
Of course, we’re also just two points ahead of Blackpool, widely tipped at the start of the season as destined for an immediate drop. Their current position is a testament to the effective deployment of limited resources and relentlessly taking the fight to the enemy.
So let’s indulge in the benefit of hindsight and look back at some of our results. Let’s make a real stretch and think of what might easily have happened with more commitment, better playing and stronger tactics. And Cattermole behaving himself. Keep in mind, this is just a “what if” exercise. It’s not intended to point an accusatory finger at anyone in particular, least of all Steve Bruce.
Aug 14 SAFC 2, Birmingham 2.
Pete Sixsmith writes: “Positive outweighs negative but Cattermole’s stupidity costs… instead of a comfortable win, we were hanging on for a point against opponents who never threatened in the first half and who were comprehensively outplayed…”
Two more points would have come in very handy.
West Brom 1, SAFC 0. Pete: “Lost concentration and lacked composure. Not impressive… a team that gave the ball away with regular monotony, mostly due to a series of misplaced passes in midfield and hopeful punts from the back.”
A point from that game would’ve been nice.
Blackburn 0, SAFC 0. Pete: “A complete waste of a Monday night… The game was there to be won, but that we did not is down to a combination of Blackburn determination, Sunderland’s inability to open up a defence and our manager’s frisson of fear when we are in a strong position.”
Two more useful points missed.
SAFC 1, Arsenal 1. Pete: “We played the better football in the first half and had we taken one of the chances we had, we would have been level at half time with a secure base to attack them… As it was, misses by Onuoha and Bent and poor shooting by Malbranque and Henderson allowed them to build…”
We could easily have had two more points from that game.
SAFC 0, ManU 0. Pete: “Were superior throughout and completely outplayed United… why is there that nagging doubt that we missed a trick? This was an opportunity to cover them in metaphorical s*** as well as literal. We now need to convert draws into wins… To do that, we will need to be a wee bit more adventurous.”
We could have two points from that game, too, with Branchester losing two from their total.
Wolves 3, SAFC 0. Pete: “Points thrown away by totally inept defending…”
So, maybe three points we should have had. But let’s settle for a draw and say it was a single point missed.
Add them together and that would have had us two points clear at the top of the Premiership. Two more points from last Saturday’s “unambitiously scrappy draw” at Fulham and we wouldn’t even have to worry about Manchester’s game in hand.
Instead here we are, getting closer to the halfway point of the season and the Cats are, give or take a place, two-thirds of the way up the table, 10 points adrift of ManU.
* Salut! Sunderland is not an exclusive club. if you feel you have a mid-term report – or any other article – in you, let Colin Randall know at the e-mail link that appears near the top left of the page.