There’s a spring in our collective step after a stirring, gutsy display won us the point we needed and deserved. This was a night when we all wanted to be in north London to share the joy of the 2,000 souls who made it. At least I had the best, clearest internet stream I can remember in my Sky-free French bunker.
It was a magnificent team performance, Costel Pantilimon obliging those of us who had called for a man-of-the-match performance, John O’Shea playing a captain’s game with Seb Coates solid at his side, Billy Jones and Patrick van Aanholt contributing great shifts and Seb and Catts monumental in defensive midfield.
Don’t let anyone say goalless draws have to be dull, I told readers at ESPN last night. This one had so much passion, thrills and raw emotion that it was as riveting as a 5-4 win.
Dick Advocaat got his half-time substitutions spot-on. Steven Fletcher proved far more effective as a hold-up man than Danny Graham and Jack Rodwell was a better bet for the second half than Connor Wickham. But every one of the 14 men used by Dick did his bit, including Jermain Defoe – splendid as an additional defender – with Adam Johnson and the later sub Will Buckley completing a tremendous squad effort.
If any Arsenal fan complains we parked the bus, a) laugh b) point out that defence is a recognised part of the game of the football and c) mention Fletcher’s three decent chances and Van Aanholt’s one. Then ask why, with so many Gooners in the Emirates, they could barely be heard except in the tepid pantomime booing of Johnson and Defoe.
And now to the relegation issue still to be resolved. I won’t run a poll, but invite Salut! Sunderland readers to say which Mag they want to go down: Steve Bruce or John Carver.
I much prefer Hull City as a club but am stuck with my attachment to the idea that having three NE teams in the top flight is always a good idea.
This is how I put it at ESPN, but now it’s time for you to have your say.
If I may be permitted one gesture of tribal disloyalty, it would be to offer the hope that Middlesbrough win the Championship promotion playoff final while Newcastle United scrape clear at Hull’s expense. Football in the North East always feels complete when all three of the major teams are competing in the top division.
But I ended on a positive note.
There have been few occasions this season when Sunderland have truly seemed worthy of continued Premier League status. Things must change next season, whether or not Advocaat is allowed by the club’s owner Ellis Short to be the one to try to achieve it.
But on the beautifully groomed surface of the Emirates, on a Wednesday evening in May, they made their own luck and richly deserved the outpouring of emotion that greeted the final whistle.
Bravo the Lads, bravo Dick, bravo Robbo for winning Guess the Score with a season-saving scoreline prediction.