Soapbox: halfway through half term, Cissé’s legacy keeps Liverpool unseen

Another gem from Jake

Just when Salut! Sunderland becomes so bereft of contributions from its highly rewarded team of writers (high as in IOUs to be cashed in heaven) that it is reduced to wittering on about food, Pete Sixsmith steps forward to reflect on game missed, game seen and game/s coming up. With some more of Jake’s art …

It’s the Wednesday
of half term, that awful week where the future Prime Ministers, Sunderland heroes and gangsters are unchained from their desks and released into the community for a week.

No more quiet walks around Hardwick Park or afternoon visits to the cinema as the younger generation occupies them and frightens off we oldies. The Hardwick ducks, in the process, are getting as fat as beach balls as numerous toddlers, teenagers and grandparents shower them with bird seed, Mother’s Pride and chocolate biscuits.

As for the cinema, forget it. The foyer of any multiplex reeks of sugar as small children from the ages of four to 16 buy vast quantities of sweets and pop to gorge and guzzle before they enter the screen and talk and text all the way through the film.

One place they could not go to yesterday was the Academy of Light to watch the Reserves play Liverpool. This game was originally booked in to Eppleton with a 7pm kick off and would have attracted a reasonable crowd.

But, for some reason, Liverpool wanted an afternoon kick off and both clubs agreed that the AOL was where it should be played. This means the dreaded Behind Closed Doors: since someone was hit in the face by a wayward shot from Djibril Cissé and threatened to sue, the AOL is closed to spectators, so we are deprived of watching our Development Squad, er, develop.

As M Salut has said, it ended up 3-3 and sounds a canny game. The handshakes at the start of the game went well, Liverpool scored first and then we went 3-1 ahead, before they levelled in the second half. I gather Liverpool play all their home games behind closed doors at their training base, so maybe they did not want to expose their up and coming stars to the fleshpots of Hetton on a Tuesday night. The Gilded Youth were forced to promenade up and down Caroline Street.

For my Tuesday night fix, I took off to the International Stadium at Gateshead to watch their FA Trophy tie with Alfreton Town. It was a reasonable game, which the ‘Heed won 2-1 thanks to a penalty from Jon Shaw and a good headed goal from centre half James Curtis. There was a poor crowd of 374, which reinforces the view that fans are loth to pay for Cup games until the penultimate or ultimate game of the tournament.

We could well have a similar situation on Saturday. A combination of live terrestrial TV, a tea time kick off and opponents who were at the SoL last week may contrive to keep the crowd below 35,000.

Apparently, Arsenal are transporting Rupert and Monty and their chums up to the North East by coach for the princely sum of a fiver – scarcely enough to buy Rupe and Mont a skinny Latte in their wee Hampstead hideaway, so the South Stand should be full. It’s a good move from the Gunners and I remember West Ham doing something similar for a noon kickoff 11 years ago. They won that one by the only goal.

What does MON do? Does he give some of the squad a game or does he stick with what is clearly his preferred starting XI? There is a case for playing Westwood, Bridge, Kyrgiakos and Meyler – they need games and, in the case of the two men on loan, we need to have a look at them as I presume we may be interested in signing them for 2012-13.

But the side is well balanced at the moment and some would say “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” or “leave well alone”. I think Westwood and Bridge will play and that the balance of the side will not be upset too much.

The timing of the replay (should Arsenal be fortunate enough to scrape a draw) is awkward. Due to their Champions League commitments, any replay will have to take place on the Tuesday night straight after the original game – just like it used to in the Good Old Days.

I can remember returning from Manchester City in 1973, grabbing a few hours kip at Dick and Julie Smith’s flat in Belle Vue Park and firing up the Hillman Minx at 6am before joining a long queue outside the Clock Stand Paddock for tickets for the replay.

Click here for the Martin O’Neill ‘Team of all Talents’ mug: £9.50, post-free for UK buyers, from the Salut! Sunderland Shop

Hopefully, there will be no need for me to impose myself on M Salut on Tuesday night as I would hope to see the job finished off on Saturday. But just in case, air off the spare room, mon ami.

4 thoughts on “Soapbox: halfway through half term, Cissé’s legacy keeps Liverpool unseen”

  1. First time in a long time that we seem to have had so long off without playing. Hopefully that means both the players and the crowd will be really up for this one, though i feel the latter may not be as far as numbers go,shame. Don’t know if it is just me but this feels like we could be onto a special cup run, people i know were openly saying that they wanted to win this one more than the league game. While you would rather win both it is is hard to argue with those sentiments too much. In recent times, including our 2004 semi final effort, cup games have filtered themselves all the way down to the bottom of the memory bank, highlighting the apparent down-grading of the F.A cup since Man Utd disrespected it by their absence in 2000.
    The instant effect that Martin OOOOOO’Neill has had since he came has been obvious, of course, meaning each and every game since his arrival are still very much active in the old memory bank, including our 3rd round win over Peterborough. My point is, this feels like one of those cup runs where you remember every single game and attach yourself emotionally to it.It feels like the F.A Cup of old, to me it does anyway. We will certainly remember playing Boro twice in years to come and now we have Arsenal in the 5th round. Quarters next anyone?

  2. I had a phone-call from a friend yesterday saying that 45 mins.of our reserve game was about to start on Liverpool TV (part of my Virgin deal).The game was highly enjoyable including an excellent goal from Craig Lynch.The Liverpool youngsters looked good and the game overall was a great advert for reserve football.A pity that more people were not allowed to see it.

  3. It is all a matter of priorities Arsenal took a pounding last night and must now feel a champions league spot is their priority and play kids. Sunderland have a good chnce of having a decent cup run if they win and maybe even go all the way. Recent form would suggest its a possibility. Much discussion has taken place this week but Arsenal’s defensive frailities were there last night for all but Arsene Wenger to see, he stubbornly refuses to employ any person of English decent in his back four which has been his downfall. Put out our best team which should be refreshed and Arsenal are there for the taking lets not experiment now this could be a big FA Cup year for us

  4. It would be a very good thing for the Cats to finish this on Saturday. The last thing the team needs is another midweek non-league match.
    I’d like to see O’Neill give all four above-mentioned a run out — if not as starters (especially Kyrgiakos) then at least the second half, especially if we’re ahead by then. The Gooners will be working hard so this would be a good opportunity to give them some exercise and see what K. and Bridge are made of. I’d rather it was done here than perhaps forced on MON at the Hawthorns. I’m expecting that one to be the tougher of the two games.

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