We’ve all reacted differently to events swirling round SAFC in recent times. Pete Sixsmith couldn’t resist curling himself up in a ball to hide away and contemplate, though he did emerge to watch Gateshead fans getting disproportionately cross about not winning every game …
If you were expecting a report on last night’s 3-1 win over Wigan Athletic at Hetton, read no further. I decided against it and went to watch Gateshead’s top of the table Conference clash with Wrexham. The ‘Heed lost 4-1, of which more later.
There was another reason for where I spent my evening, and it goes far deeper than just choosing fixtures. Those who know me well are probably aware that when bad things happen, I tend to turn away from it.
This explains piles of unopened bank statements, credit card notifications and final demands from Television X – sorry, the National Geographic Channel – which are currently clogging up the billiard room at Sixsmith Towers.
For me, this has been a bad week as a Sunderland supporter. Saturday’s draw was a disappointment, despite the fightback. I take no pleasure in the endless speculation about Bruce’s job and have found some of the abuse hurled at him on various sites and in newspapers and saloon bars, intolerant and, at times, lacking common decency.
Peter Reid was speaking on the radio this morning about fans’ expectations and I sometimes wonder what ours are.
Reid said the two seventh places that he achieved a decade ago were about what Sunderland should be prepared to settle for. Sometimes I think that a vociferous minority of our fans seem to expect a Champions’ League place, an FA Cup win and Best In Show at Crufts.
Consequently, any manager failing to achieve these is vilified. Bruce is by no means the finest manager in the firmament. I have criticised him and I don’t regard him as being tactically aware but I do think that he has decent relationships with players and that he may well supervise an improvement as the season ticks on.
The abuse heaped on managers and players at the moment is almost out of control. I can’t say that I am looking forward to the return of Darren Bent – partly because he has reached the same level as Joey Barton in my estimation and partly because of the awful insults that are going to be hurled at him.
A section of the Arsenal support reached new depths at White Hart Lane on Sunday with the dreadful chants aimed at Emmanuel Adebayor regarding the shooting incident in Angola. Some Spurs fans retaliated with their usual sickening rants about Arsene Wenger. Two wrongs do not make a right.
Then we had the news that Niall Quinn had stepped aside from the chairman’s role at the Stadium. Here is a man of the utmost integrity who came to the rescue of the club in 2005 after that disastrous relegation. He has stood aloof from the idiocies of some chairmen, the likes of Bates, Gillette and Hicks and Ashley/Llambias. But now he has moved over to oversee the clubs “international development”.
He did say he would probably spend no more than five years at the helm and his time is up. The man he brought in has taken over and, seeing as he has pumped over £100m. into the club, has every right to dictate the way the club goes. But I doubt he will ever have the impact that Quinn has had on Sunderland fans.
So, a night at the Reserves would have been a reminder of the disappointments that I have experienced these last few weeks. It would reinforce the disillusionment that I am feeling with regard to Premier League football in general. I am tired of reading about Arsenal, Chelsea etc in The Guardian and seeing clubs like us, West Brom and Villa being ignored.
I opted for a night at the International Stadium, hoping to restore some of my faith in football. It didn’t.
Gateshead were well beaten by an impressive Wrexham side, but to listen to some of the Gateshead fans, they were “useless”, “chickenhearted” and “absolute sh…”. They were top of the league before the game and, even after their first home defeat of the season, are sitting in third place with 27 points. Another club where expectations have been created and where impatience is running at a far too elevated level.
Back to Northern League tonight and Shildon’s home game with Newton Aycliffe. I bet there will be moaning at Dean Street as well!