Wise words on Sunderland’s brand of football PLUS Middlesbrough ‘Guess the Score’

Jake's got his. Now you can join the Buy One, Win One rush

Let us mix fun, competition and a sense or proportion. First, treat this as a Guess the Score posting: usual rules, as recently modified – if you are the first to predict the correct SAFC v Boro score at the end of normal plus any extra time, that is before a penalty shoot-out, you qualify for a free Martin O’Neill mug provided you buy one too*. Now for the sense of proportion …

Commonsense is like London taxis and buses, Salut! Sunderland‘s “Who are You?” candidates and rain. You wait for ages to see/find/get any and then loads arrive all at once.

Having rattled off a downbeat little piece for ESPN, and read Pete Sixsmith’s superb but depressing account of Saturday’s grim events of the Britannia, I fully expected either silence or more doom and gloom about Sunderland’s present lack of flair, creativity or threat.

Rude awakenings come in different forms. Mine started with a headline above a piece at Ready to Go by Sharkey’s Shadow, a supporter based in Canada: “Boring, boring Sunderland.”

The first sentence of the article maintained the theme: “Could we really be the most boring team in the history of the Premier League?”

Time to feel vindicated in my own sense of disillusion, the sort that makes it seem pointless to stay up for MoTD and “highlights” of a game you’ve missed? Er, no.

Sharkey’s Shadow, who turns out to be a fine writer, immediately disabused me of any notion that he shared my unease at a start to the season I described at ESPN as dull as dishwater.

This is how he answered his own opening question: “Well, after a half century of being little more than cannon-fodder in football’s top division I’d take that back-handed compliment in a heartbeat.”

And here is the killer sequence:

… to hell with how many shots we have taken or not taken and to hell, also, with what other fans may think or say. If we have to grind it out then we grind it out. If our more skillful players are off-form then they can at least track back and stop the other team from playing. If we only have one shot in a match then make that one shot count. And if you still want entertainment then look for a DVD of the play-off final against Charlton.

It is an excellent read. Rather than pilfer any more of it, I will direct Salut! Sunderland readers to the RTG link: http://www.readytogo.net/archives/002398.html?#ixzz2Alvu8y8q

Jake announces his new partnership; click for an enlarged view

But there has been plenty of the same commonsense on show here, too.

From Phil Johnson, ever farther away from the North East than Sharkey’s Shadow: “The first thing that Brian Clough addressed, at both Derby & Forest, was the defence, in order to make his sides hard to beat. MO’N, as a Cloughie disciple, has repeatedly done the same thing (apart from, maybe, at Celtic) and I think that our current situation appears to be mirroring his first season at Villa.”

One or two others developed Phil’s point, broadly agreeing with him while also allowing for the frustrations felt by many supporters.

Then this offering from John Briggs summed up the optimistic view to perfection:

At the start of the season we all would have accepted away draws with West Ham, Arsenal, Swansea,Stoke and home draws with Newcastle and Liverpool. We’d also have expected a home win with Wigan and an away defeat at Man City. So why do we find these results unacceptable after 8 games of season? Is it just because the entertainment value has been low? Would you rather lose 4-3 or draw 0-0? Let’s be honest here if SB was still in charge we would have probably lost the lot!

I believe MON is a very intelligent manager who has decided to get it right at the back first to make us hard to beat. That is working so far. Now he has to work further up the park and get the attack functioning. I for one believe he will do it, it may not be this side of xmas though, although I sincerely hope it is. Some fans also seem to forget we’ve only played 3 home games out of the 8 we’ve played,winning those 2 home game to even things up will leave us in a fairly strong position.
Most fans on the whole can see this but many are short sighted, the criticism of McClean and Johnson’s play on Saturday is an example. While both were poor in their forward play both worked hard for the team off the ball and in defensive positions, both were an integral part of not conceding a goal.

No apologies for repeating words already published here and elsewhere. It is important that they are seen and digested. The thread from which John’s comments were drawn can be seen in full at https://safc.blog/2012/10/sixers-soapboxstoke-0-sunderland-0-purgatory-in-the-potteries.

He ended, as I do, by hoping the week now develops, starting tonight, in a more heartening fashion. Ha’way the Lads versus Boro and then Villa.

There is likely to be a delay following the Capital One Cup game in publishing Pete Sixmith’s seven-word instant verdict and Martin O’Neill’s post-match e-mail.

Do not wait for them to appear if you have something you wish to get off your chest about the way the game has gone. Post your score prediction now – even if you do so only in fun and have no wish to receive two mugs for the price of one – and return to this article to comment on the outcome … at least until Sixer’s Sevens and Martin’s Musings present more appropriate platforms.

* The Buy One/Win One format will continue until Salut! Sunderland finds a prize sponsor for the competition or comes up with a better way of limiting the cost. In the unlikely event of a Boro supporter not only predicting the correct score but also wanting two MON mugs, the design will be amended accordingly

** HOW BORO fans – including one whose first game was on Boxing Day 1946 and another with fascinating Brian Clough memories – view tonight’s game. Two more gems from the Who are You? series – https://safc.blog/?cat=23

Monsieur Salut, by Matt

13 thoughts on “Wise words on Sunderland’s brand of football PLUS Middlesbrough ‘Guess the Score’”

  1. I have a feeling that it’s going to be one of those weird nights where everything gets turned on its head. Sunderland to win 2-1, after going behind and staying behind for much of the game. Boro to emerge with more credit than us, but for us to progress. H’way me bonny lads!

    • Jeremy, just in case you don’t pick up on it, I would (very much) appreciate your views on my reply to you on the “Sixer’s Soapbox” thread, regarding team formations.

  2. The team that is being criticised is the same team who thrilled us all last year with the games against Man City, showing fighting spirit and effort. Could Fletcher for Bendtner and Rose for Bridge really have that much of an effect? It is at the heart of the creativity of the team that isn’t beating. Sess has been a shadow of last season. Gardner is being missed and Larsson is simply not a central Player. Mc Clean has failed to impress in any game this season and needs a wake up call. Sess is a confidence player and just needs a couple of goal or outlandish things to come off for him. I’m not sure when the train will be back on the tracks it we just need a good win and maybe Villa are the catalyst we need. Stay behind the team they need us when thing are going wrong. ” When times are dark friends are few”

    • I agree BUT this is, really, the first season for MO’N.

      In 2011/12 he was “firefighting” to ensure that the shambles he inherited was not relegated.

      Now, he is starting to fashion his own team with, hopefully, a view to the medium & longer terms.

      This has to mean that his priorities are different/have changed.

      Instead of being “gung ho”, in an attempt to just get points he is now looking at a, totally, different landscape.

      Whilst nobody would/could disagree with your point regarding creativity could it not be that those players are being held “on a leash” until they, fully, understand what is expected of them?

      Now that Bardsley is fit, which will allow Gardner to revert to midfield, I think that things may change.

      However, with McClean appearing to be suffering from “second season syndrom” it would not surprise me to see Larsson revert to the right and AJ switch to the left,

      Sess, though, needs to regain some semblance of form – maybe,he was better off without the wife and kids!

      If he does not improve he should (IMHO) be “benched”!

      Class, though, (as many have said) is permanent and form temporary!

  3. With no mug at stake, I will forecast a 2-0 home win.

    If there had been then I may have opted for a 0-1 defeat!

  4. Well said M Salut!

    What I find, somewhat, sad is that someone, like Pete Sixsmith, who has spent a large part of his life supporting SAFC (financially & timewise) is allowing his disillusionment with the current game to influence his thoughts.

    Come on Pete, please give your head a shake!

    The game will never be as it was BUT, for the first time in the last (probably) 48 years I believe that the club is well run, has a good manager in place and possesses decent players.

    That is NOT to say that we are the finished article – as the Salut mug states, we are a “work in progress”.

    So, come on Pete and forget Suarez et al and do what you do best supporting the lads!

    The next few years could be the best of your life!

    How can “egg chasers” compare – they can not!

    • I did, much to my chagrin, later notice a “hairline crack” in my mug (Colin will understand what I’m referring to), which I must make VERY clear was my own fault!

      I trust, though, that my POV (and forecasts) will not suffer the same fate!

  5. I’m going for a 1-0 home win, but without huge confidence, ‘cos at present we don’t look as if we can buy a goal.

      • I’m sorry you had to wait for your comment to be moderated boro boy but I was at the match and have only just got in. I assume you weren’t there unless you have a fancy G4 phone, kept the site in your favourites and e-mailed it in whilst waiting to be let out of the North Stand Upper.

        I’m not so sorry to say that you don’t win a mug because your comment timed at 9.52 was just a little too late to be a prediction.

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