SAFC vs Aston Villa: things to consider as a mighty challenge looms


Monsieur Salut welcomes anyone who has missed Salut! Sunderland‘s comprehensive buildup to tonight’s game and offers pointers to the best of that coverage…

Approaching the home game against Aston Villa, kicking off a few hours from now, the Sunderland Echo speculated that SAFC’s survival propsects may well depend on winning this match or the next one, at QPR on Saturday. If pushed, I’d say we probably need to win both or at least emerge with four points.

The crisis has reached those desperate proportions.

It matters little that the sense of expectation – or maybe just dread – puts a lot pressure on the heads of the young and not-so-young men who represent our club. Villa players are arguably performing with a greater weight of expectation – their fans demand promotion and it remains a formidable challenge to Steve Bruce to achieve it, whether automcatically or via the uncertain route of the playoffs.

We simply have to perform and obtain results, starting tonight.

It is still possible to sympathise with Chris Coleman. As he said today, as quoted by the Echo, in his first 24 hours at the Stadium of Light “we lost Duncan Watmore for the season and Jonny Williams for three months … we headed to Villa [his first game in charge] with a very threadbare squad. From then to now it has been bumpy, uncomfortable, things forced upon us and you have to act …”

And he cannot be faulted for refusing to lay into the players for the tentative, unthreatening second half at Millwall. It handed the game to the home side and made conceding almost inevitable but, in isolation, we still ended up with a worthy draw. Bottom visits eighth top and comes away with a point would be an admirable enough achievement if we were not just 11 games from the end of another rotten season with relegation looming again.

I am keeping tabs from afar. Pete Sixsmith and thousands of others will be there, earnestly hoping to applaud and cheer a rousing home display that produces three points; few people actually enjoy moaning and booing misplaced passes, comic defending, feeble attacking. The time for plucky defeats has passed; a decent draw against promotion contenders is no longer enough.

So Ha’way the Lads … and for those readers straying on to these pages for the first time, or having missed some or all of the content preceding the match, catch this:

* Not too late to Guess the Score. Plenty of possible scorelines are already taken, plenty more remain. Go to, have a go and you may end up with a new mug to slurp your tea from

* See another splendid “Who are You?” interview. Villa fan Tom Joliffe came up with great answers but also, sadly, a pessimistic outlook on our fortunes:

* And don’t miss Sixer’s great series, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Team:

* There is more.
There is always more a Salut! Sunderland. How could a home-and-away regular combine thoughts on his trip to the Den on Saturday with a fond look at steam engines? Bob Chapman managed it in a great report after watching Sunderland AFC – and the dying days of active service for Britannia Class 70013 Oliver Cromwell: 

I hope you find something in all of that to entertain or enlighten ….


M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake




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