There may be a Carling Cup match to preoccupy fans of the Manchester clubs and even Surly Alex Ferguson. But for fans of Sunderland AFC, the only match that really matters will be taking place 34 miles or so to the west …
As responses to a shocking FA Cup exit at Portsmouth go, buying a ticket for the next game at Pompey – not even two weeks away – may seem irrational. I have just ordered mine.
As a logical approach to tonight’s Premier League tie against Everton, putting money on anything other than another Sunderland defeat might seem naive. I was toying with the idea of a fiver on the unexpected away win.
As we saw in the excellent Salut! Sunderland headine (not mine) above Malcolm Dawson’s report from Fratton Park at the weekend, Sunderland expects. It makes us naive and irrational, but we expect.
We continually foster unrealistic expectations of SAFC. We know we’re really a big club that just hasn’t had a big team for a while. We pray that more good times are just around the corner, even when our heads tell us – as Scott’s head told him for his instant reaction to the Portsmouth cup defeat – that they’re not around any corner coming up soon, not now any more than they were in however many decades we may have been following our team.
The longer-in-the-tooth supporters among us try to restrain any unwarranted excitement over the short-term future just because someone very rich has come in with lofty ambitions for the club and money to back up his dreams.
But still we hope. We hope, today, that for once, our team will actually go out and play well for a whole game, defence and midfield as well as attack doing the required job. We hope not to have to read yet more explanations from Steve Bruce, tonight or tomorrow, on why we weren’t up to it at Goodison and how we just have to get back to the training ground and put things right. We hope to get the kind of result that does NOT guarantee ultra-nervy performances at home to Stoke and Wigan and, yes, away again at Portsmouth on Feb 9.
Any chance of obliging, Steve and the Lads?