There is, of no course, no truth in the rumour that the venue of Sunderland’s visit to Man Utd on Saturday, while still at Old Trafford, is being moved half a mile to the much older cricket ground to reflect the likely scoring pattern.
Dick Advocaat’s finest could even shock us. But then anything short of an emphatic defeat would probably shock most of us.
All the same, Monsieur Salut expects the usual mixture of realism (gloom) and blind faith as entries start rolling in for this week’s rollover Guess the Score competition.
One upbeat way of approaching the fixture is to remember that on August 22, Newcastle United – hardly any better than us – went to Old Trafford and collected a point. Both sides hit the bar, so it was not one-way traffic, but the game ended goalless.
Anything the Mags can do, we should be able to do better … except that it rarely works like that.
We all know that without a giant portion of luck, and/or the sort of passionate, effective play we have seen only in glimpses this season, Sunderland are heading for another sorry afternoon.
Let them surprise us. Let them for once repay the commitment of the fans and muster enough grit and discipline to overcome the obvious quality gaps in every position.
There were encouraging moments even in the 4-1 walloping by Man City, but not enough to compensate for our glaring defensive deficiencies.
As Benno said to Nick Barnes in the BBC Radio Newcastle buildup, players do not go out intending to anything other than give their utmost; our problem is that the players simply show no sign of being good enough whether playing against bottom-half strugglers or top-four certainties.
The first reader to post the correct scoreline before kickoff wins a couple of mugs from our sponsors Personalised Football Gifts, this being a rollover as no one has accurately guessed the score for the past couple of weeks (the rollover stops at two mugs).
The winner can be a Manchester United supporter but needs a UK postal address which, if we are to mischievous about the MUFC catchment area, could complicate matters. M Salut’s decision, as usual, will be final.
Come back tomorrow for another grand “Who are You?” interview. No Man City-style letdowns – the Citeh-supporting former Sun editor David Yelland, who failed to provide his promised answers to our questions, has duly apologised, blaming an oversight caused by pressure or work, but the United replies arrived this morning. What is more, our interviewee, Jordan Street, is Manchester born and bred.
Salut! Sunderland: Have the Black Cats run out of cats’ lives (this is our ninth consecutive season in the Premier) or do you see a recovery to respectability at least?
I think you have a good squad of players, and a side more than capable of staying in the league. However confidence is extremely low at the moment and I’m not quite sure how the manager is going to boost morale. If the owners decide to get rid of Advocaat soon, I’m confident you’ll stay up. If he’s here come December, I’d be less so.