Very well, reject is a harsh word.
But take a good look at the line-up fielded by Stoke City yesterday before the excellent 3-1 FA Cup win over Arsenal:
Thomas Sorensen, Danny Higginbotham, Robert Huth, Ryan Shawcross, Danny Collins, Glenn Whelan, Dean Whitehead, Rory Delap (Salif Diao, 85), Matthew Etherington (Danny Pugh, 90), Ricardo Fuller (Sanli Tuncay, 85), Mamady Sidibe
Even without reference to Stoke’s assistant manager – and there was no need to sing Cheer Up Peter Reid to him on the TV last night – there are five familiar names.
Tommy left by choice. But Higginbotham, Collins, Whitehead and Delap were moved on when supposedly better players were signed. As was Liam Lawrence, an absentee yesterday, but often praised when he does play.
And which team is producing the better, more convincing and certainly more successful football just now?
I woke this morning to a mobile phone alert to the following comment, posted overnight by Keith Hutton:
I watch(ed) Stoke yesterday and couldn’t help but think Collins, Higginbotham and Whitehead would waltz into the current Sunderland team on merit, I hear how great Cana is but see this liability diving in like a loony, Turner can’t defend facing his goal and we don’t have a good header of the ball in the back four.
My heart desperately wants to quarrel with Keith’s assessment. The shake of the head suggests there is no basis for the quarrel on the evidence of what we have been seeing. We score early and show no sign of being able to build on the lead or defend it, or we don’t score at all or until the cause is all but lost.
So yes, Cheer Up Stevie Bruce. And do so by cheering the fans who loyally and passionately support Sunderland AFC despite, since mid-October, having receiving precious little reward or even reason for their commitment.