Dim view from Dubai as Torres brings Sunderland down to earth

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Pete Sixsmith says it was cruel.

Fatima, the Emirati work experience student I turned into a sort-of Sunderland fan (read all about it here, or in the new A Love Supreme), sent a text from Thailand saying she’d longed for an equaliser, adding: “Considering the slaughtering predicted by my Liverpool-till-death companions, Sunderland played well.”

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Even my disloyally Liverpool-supporting daughter says we were unlucky.

In the end, though, we lost because Torres had one reasonable chance and took it in glorious style while Diouf had three and never looked liked converting any of them.

Then there was Murphy’s weak header from a good position. And for all our neat play, including some exquisite movement, especially in the first half, precious little else in front of goal.

Carlos Edwards was at his most ineffectual when he came on, more frightened rabbit than man of magic capable of producing a winner or, subsequently, equaliser.

Brought back down to earth indeed.

But was it a creditable, spirited display against top four, bags-of-money opponents that augurs well for the coming weeks and months? Or a performance that shows we are in for yet another struggle against relegation?

Like all SAFC fans, I want to believe the former.

But watching the Showtime post-match analysis in the UAE, you’d think we were doomed already.

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Derek Whyte – I was tempted to ask “who?”, but the TV website says he has “almost 20 years of playing experience at the highest level”, which it defines as Celtic, Aberdeen and Boro – said Keano must have been concerned at having to substitute all his high-profile signings (not, in any case, true). Ray Wilkins said we were in for a long, hard winter.

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And the entire Dubai-based studio team, chaired by Rob McAffrey, acted as if infected by supposedly big club myopia. Poor Liverpool were hard done by to be denied a penalty in the first half, they all agreed. No mention at all of the referee’s apparent belief that a Liverpool player’s hand is not the same, the laws of the game, as anyone else’s.

Salut! Sunderland is as biased as they were condescending. But it sincerely hopes that Keano’s squad – which undoubtedly still needs strengthening, in the back four and up front – can find it in them to make McAffrey, Wilkins and Whyte eat their words.

* Click on the two TV grab pix for a better view – of you at the match perhaps., and of the starting lineup. Click as you may on Butch Wilkins and Derek Whyte, they still look like pictures of men on the run.

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