Steve Bruce loathes friendlies anyway and “can’t wait for the real ball to come out”. When it does, Salut! Sunderland will be ready …
You can bet your life we have not heard the last from Pete Sixsmith – lost in Belgium, when last heard of, on his way home from Germany – on the disturbing scoreline from our final pre-season friendly: Hoffenheim 3 Sunderland 1.
In the final one of his text messages from the match, Pete wrote: “Use this as a Seven if you want: Well at least Mignolet looked the part.”
It had been, he added, a “rather worrying performance”.
In fact, there was no need for Pete to contribute one of his seven-word match verdicts. We’re saving the return of Sixer’s Sevens for the start of the season proper. Come here after every match – usually quite soon, but please be understanding if posting is delayed – and you’ll see Pete’s instant judgement.
Occasionally – especially when we play Chelsea away – Pete will be absent from the game and I or someone else will stand in for him. Most weeks, there’s be a seven-word preview, usually written by me, and sometimes a holding verdict will appear pending the arrival of Pete’s own words or the opportunity to post them.
If you see an asterisk immediately before the Seven, you’ll know it is not Pete’s summing-up that follows.
And as a reminder of how it works, here are the Sevens from the final – appropriately – seven games of last season:
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 (1) Sunderland (1) 1 Deeply disappointing finale lacking quality and determination
May 2 2010 Sunderland (0) 0 v Manchester United (1) 1 Good performance bodes well for next season
Apr 24 2010 Hull City (0) 0 Sunderland (1) 1 Good to win away but a horrible game
Apr 17 2010 Sunderland (2) 2 Burnley (0) 1 Comfortable win but edgy at the end
Apr 10 2010 West Ham 1 (0) Sunderland 0 (0) Yet another disappointing away performance. Deserved nothing
Apr 3 2010 Sunderland (2)3 Tottenham Hotspur (0) 1 Absolutely tremendous game and a great win
Mar 28 2010 Liverpool (2) 3 Sunderland (0) 0 Well beaten by a far better side
In other words, all the joy and despair of being a Sunderland supporter. And the trial run from Hoffenheim shows that Pete – except when navigating the drive from Hoffenheim to Calais (“about as good as yesterday’s football”) – is ready for Birmingham at home on Saturday. Let’s hope the players, despite that flat end to the warm-up, are too.