Either that or shattered nerves have sent Lars Knutsen round the bend. He expects Wigan to stumble at the Emirates tonight and we all know what that would mean, unless stumble were to equal draw and they then thumped Villa by a cricket score while we lost heavily at Spurs (a combination of 6-0 and 5-0, for example, and we’d go down on same goal difference, fewer scored). That’s clearly not a scenario Lars envisages, but he does expect a surviving Sunderland to reinvent themselves as punk’s footballing equivalent. Without, Monsieur Salut trusts, the music …
I was there, and still remember the 70s. I recall straying into foreign territory called Newc****e once and seeing a band called Stray at the City Hall.
What was served up was self-indulgent, apathetic, crappy, rubbish rock served up as “progressive”. Then I went to university in the mid-70s, around the time the punk era emerged. This pattern of apathy and lack of passion from famous and highly-paid entertainers gave way to a simpler style of punk music which exuded energy, drive, enthusiasm and actually entertained the audience.
I predict that next season will be the new punk era at Sunderland. Not that our players will have spiky hair and look as if they have been locked in a damp basement. Or not all of them; maybe I should exclude James McClean as that is his look anyway, if he is still with us in August.
But I also predict the Black Cats will use up another of their nine lives, yet again, and stay up courtesy of Phil Bardsley’s wonderful weekend piledriver because Wigan, for all their recent learned escapology, will not win at Arsenal.
Paulo Di Canio looked tired and restrained after the weekend game and I don’t think that was because he was disappointed with Swindon missing out on the League One play-off final on penalties. He had witnessed a poor display from Sunderland when the team had the opportunity to move comfortably into mid-table by gaining all three points against Southampton, and I am sure he had made his feelings known to the players, doubtlessly in his inimitable style, before Sunday’s BBC TV interview.
Our squad has been thin, we have had an horrendous time with injuries, many players have shown poor form as well as looking strangely hesitant and very much unmotivated at times. I liked O’Neill’s signings of Fletcher and Johnson in August but was not happy with him selling Turner and Campbell and later bleating to the media about not having enough depth of talent.
We have played to our full potential only in patches, and often in games we went on lose, such as away at Everton and Norwich. The five home wins have been memorable, but were they really worth the wait? The away wins were good, but there were not enough of them.
I have spoken to a friend who lived in Italy, working with SmithKline Beecham in Milan, who had actually studied the history of Italy. I played him some YouTube clips of Paulo Di Canio’s best moments, including some recent ones at the Stadium of Light and St James’ Park, or whatever it is called these days.
I will read the books he lent me, and write more in the future about why post-war, Winston Churchill worked with the right-wing government in Italy to prevent it drifting into the Communist block and becoming Albania. Italy appears to be a country which is running a modern experiment called democracy and the rule of law. It is a different culture. If one needs confirmation of that, the word “Berlusconi” may be helpful. I must add that we are fortunate to come from a true home of solid democracy, the United Kingdom.
Back to the beautiful game: football management is rapidly becoming a revolving door, as we saw when Mancini was shown one. I am tempted to think of our good fortune when Peter Reid was unjustifiably sacked at Man City when they were in seventh spot.
What price second? I cannot really understand what is happening at clubs like Chelsea and City; they now make Sunderland look like a paragon of stability. And, yes, I do hope for that next season, entertaining football and a less “interesting” end to the season … what price mid-table obscurity anybody?