For his second piece for Salut! Sunderland, Luke Harvey – whose presence would be welcome if it did no more that bring down the average age around these parts – looks forward, if that is the correct phrase in our current state, to Bolton at home on Tuesday …
Michael Owen is injured. Alex Ferguson is complaining about a pitch. Ian Wright is having a good moan as well.
It seems that the world is back to business as usual following the reckless challenge from Ryan Shawcross last week that put Aaron Ramsey out for the rest of the season and captured our attention for the majority of last week.
We, too, are moving on. With a clichéd “make-or-break” match with Bolton coming up on Tuesday, we’ll be much happier to compete against our fellow knuckle-dragging northerner neanderthals. Rather than being up against another slice of football’s elite, it will be a case of 22 men spending 90 minutes kicking legs, ankles, faces and occasionally the ball too. Won’t it?
It’s an unfortunate reflection of what has become of our team recently. A few years ago, when we made ritualistic one-season appearances in the Premier, we seemed to pride ourselves on our robust style of play. Now though, our hard-nosed and often scrappy play is a result of early season form deserting us.
I remember Blackburn at home this season. We went 1-0 down, but did not panic. Instead we started to string passes together around the middle of the field and the crowd sounded their appreciation by way of applause, having witnessed a style of play previously unseen around these parts. We came back to win 2-1 thanks to Kenwyne Jones.
Now I have no doubt that as two teams that can only be categorised as pretty bad meet on Tuesday, a dull and uninspiring performance awaits us all.
Knowing that the match isn’t going to be pretty is half the battle, a battle rendered pointless by non-attendance anyway I suppose, but if we come out of the match with a 1-0 victory via a deflection off the referee, then I’ll take that with both hands.
Perhaps we can be heartened by the fact that Bolton are the only team we’ve actually managed to beat away this season, and also heartened that Bolton’s last away goal came in a 4-2 loss to Arsenal in mid-January, when they even surrendered a 2-0 lead. They’ve conceded 11 goals on the road in all competitions, and they managed to put two of those into their own net.
We could possibly be set to record our first double of the season, and it would come off the back of a 14-game run of no wins. Wouldn’t it just sum up our season perfectly, and the random way we function, is we snapped that miserable run at the same time as completing home-and-away ascendancy over Bolton?