Saturday began with the prospect of seeing nothing of the game and relying entirely on Pete Sixsmith’s excellent stream of beer/pub assessment, goal updates, occasional comment and final score with the inevitable Sixer’s Seven.
In the event, I found myself installed (by the spending half) in a bar in Juan-les-Pins where a hopeful request to the barman produced live coverage on Canal+. We were already one down and by the end, I almost wished he’d sent me packing.
My prediction of a draw was bold and, as I realised, ridiculously optimistic.
Just before Pete’s first text announcing a goal for City in three minutes, I had wondered whether 4-0 might be more realistic. Unlike Pete and many readers of Salut! Sunderland, I rely on what I can see and hear of games until I am back in England, which will be soon, and can get to a few myself – something the train planners are making just about impossible for the Wear-Tyne derby.
But the point I raise in my latest piece for ESPN is whether in any match so far this season we have looked like imposing ourselves. Take away the League Cup, and even then only the first of the two games, and the answer is not encouraging.
See also: Pete Sixsmith’s incomparable matchday report, taking in our defeat and the ‘best game of rugby’ he’s ever seen … https://safc.blog/2012/10/sixers-soapboxcity-brings-the-blues-old-trafford-provides-the-cure/
Here is how I start today’s item:
All week long, there seemed cause for concern that too many Sunderland supporters were unrealistically upbeat about the chances of pulling off another surprise at Eastlands.
I gingerly suggested a 2-2 draw, so can hardly claim my hands were clean. But a lot of others saw winning as a distinct possibility – a prediction based on bags of romance but virtually no substance.
And here, after floating various thoughts about how a respectably narrow defeat became something of a rout, is how I end it, having moved on to consider a certain game following the international weekend:
Win the Wear-Tyne derby and Sunderland’s season again looks promising. A storming draw we could just about live with. The spectre of defeat should not even be on the agenda and, in the knowledge of how easily such an outcome can shape a season, must be firmly expelled if found lurking at the back of anyone’s mind.
The results at the weekend give neither set of fans much reason to gloat. Pardew thinks Sunderland are better this season than last. We know NUFC have plenty of players capable of posing a threat.
There’ll be plenty to say about the game and its build-up next week. If, in the meantime, anyone feels like commenting – and I realise it is a little early to be getting too worked up – please go to http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland?cc=5739 and say something there, even if you post your views below.