Without the slightest disrespect to York City, Kilmarnock, Hartlepool and Darlington, the four teams we have beaten in the friendlies, it is fair to assume Liverpool will present a somewhat tougher obstacle in the opening Premier League game at Anfield next Saturday.
Today, Pete Sixsmith battled with a bout of sickness and turned out for the less than efficacious medicinal response administered by the match that ended Hibs 0 Sunderland 0.
His texts started on a negative note along the lines of: “Raining in Edinburgh, still feeling off colour … First time I have been here and not had a pint or two or seven …”
Half time was hardly cheerier: “A dull, goalless, wet first half.”
And if I was expecting his own pre-season build-up to include a trial Sixer’s Seven at the end, I was soon disappointed. “Ditto second half,” was as much as Pete felt it merited.
Not, of course, that it matters a bit in the real world.
Steve Bruce famously dislikes pre-season friendlies and declared himself pleased they were over and done with.
“They’re a means to an end,” he said afterwards (safc.com, still no “personal” e-mails yet)). “Everybody’s fit apart from John O’Shea – the players that needed game time have got that. I’m talking about people like Titus [Bramble], Kieran [Richardson] and Lee [Cattermole].
“The players who’ve been out have got games under their belt and I have to say the squad as a whole have worked extremely hard. Friendlies are never quite Premier League games, are they? It will be totally different next week.”
Despite a glaring lack of punch, Sunderland dominated for long spells today, with Stéphane Sessegnon again impressive, and there was what safc.com called a “towering performance” from Wes Brown
“It was bang average game,” the boss said. “Defensively we were sound. Wes Brown was a real plus for me – he’s getting better with every game. We lacked a cutting edge and were a bit laboured, but then again we had a game in midweek.
“Now the real preparation can begin. The players are in good physical condition – we’ve seen to that – so let’s get ready for the challenge ahead.”
Get well soon, Pete. Get us off to a good start next week, Steve, and make the Henderson family happier for their club than Jordan is for his.
Brown, Hart, Booth, Stephens, Hanlon, Murray, De Graaf, Horner, Galbraith, O’Connor, Wotherspoon.
Subs: Palsson, Sproule, Smith, Stevenson, Thornhill, Taggart and Caldwell (all used), Stack and Crawford (unused).
Sunderland (those subs used appeared during the second half)
Mignolet, Bardsley, Richardson (Elmohamady), Ferdinand, Brown, Colback, Larsson, Cattermole (Turner), Gardner (Vaughan), Gyan (Dong-Won), Sessegnon (Wickham).
Subs unused: Westwood, Bramble.