One week to go and it’s Arsenal away. Olivier Giroud scored a lot of goals in France last season and will be keen to get off to a great Premier start. It’s anyone’s guess where our goalscoring options may come from …
First of all, bravo Jake, our loyal graphics wizard who sends such wonderful images from afar (Spanish exile), for the above clip which suddenly appeared at the Salut! Sunderland Facebook group (click here if you fancy joining).
Second, are you sitting comfortably after hearing about or, worse, seeing the 1-0 defeat at mighty Leicester City in the last of a warm-up for the new Premier League season that can, with great charity, be described as unpromising?
“Just got back from Leicester,” said someone at the Blackcats list. “As things stand, we will be relegated.”
To be fair, the writer of those words, though an astute observer of football and well versed in the ups and downs of SAFC, is not best known for his optimistic outlook. But Sixer was at it as well, albeit from an absentee’s perspective: “Awful by all accounts. Shildon won 6-0 at Whitehaven. I made the right choice of match.”
What should we really read into the succession of disappointing pre-season games in which defending has at times been slow and sloppy, midfield has lacked creativity and goals have been in short supply? And how worried should we be that the squad for the Leicester game was as follows …
Westwood, Gardner, O’Shea (Egan, 75), Kilgallon (Meyler,46), Bramble (Cuellar, 46), Cattermole (Knott, 80), Elmohamady (Larsson, 46), Colback, Campbell (Noble, 75), Richardson (Adams, 75), McClean.
Subs Not Used: Mignolet.
… all about fitness and getting everyone involved at some stage?
The harsher view is that with seven days to go before we face Arsenal away, the line-up was a disturbing indication of how little Premier-standard talent Martin O’Neill had at his disposal. Other first-team players are injured but, for as long as they are in that state, it hardly offers grounds for reassurance.
Sunderland fans should have no problem with a manager who plays his cards close to his chest when it comes to transfer talk.
But he, the owner and every dog that has ever stopped at a lamppost along Roker Baths Road know full well that supporters have so far been given not the remotest reason to believe that this is a team – unless much strengthened in the time that is left – that can seriously mount a challenge for the top 10, let alone a European place. They also know, or should know, the importance of public relations.
The on-off Fletcher deal would be seen by most thinking SAFC supporters as no more than start. But if it is still there to be clinched, if we were informed that Sess was going nowhere and if one or two other important signings could be considered a given, morale would instantly soar.
And no one, not even contributors to Blackcats, should be unduly pessimistic before a season even gets under way. MoN, surely, knows what he is doing and has significant announcements in the pipeline.
But after decades of massive disappointment, SAFC supporters are entitled to be concerned – even if they also hope with all their hearts that there is a master plan, so far undisclosed, that will make their downbeat outlook seem absurd a month from now.