Sunderland supporters once again approach a match with apprehension instead of a buzz of excitement.
The team lacks pace and guile. The manager’s post-match comments increasingly sound like those of Steve Bruce, with liberal mentions of disappointment, working on it and getting things right.
So what better time and place than Carrow Road on Sunday afternoon for Martin O’Neill to soothe frayed nerves, put out a winning formation and watch a spirited away performance to make up for two grim results at home – and all the other setbacks of the season so far.
Here’s your chance to guess the right score. Post it first, before kickoff, and you either bask in self-esteem or buy one MoN mug to win a second free. Not the most generous Christmas bargain you’ll be offered but currently the best Salut! Sunderland can do.
At the ESPN site this week, I argued against allowing the gathering mood of discontent to lead to a change of managership.
Read it in full at http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/693?cc=5739 – but here is a flavour:
The whispers of discontent, already mentioned here, have grown as I said they would. When I wrote on November 5th that a, “respectable return from the coming cluster of games would work wonders for morale”, I was thinking of how matters would seem now, after difficult away games at Everton and Fulham but also successive, winnable home games.
Sunderland have managed one win in those four games, at Fulham, and one draw. It struggles to meet my test of respectability, but disastrous is hardly the right word either. My fear is that realistic assessment of the next two games — at Norwich and up against a Chelsea newly led by Rafa Benitez — does not offer great promise.
… But does this mean that supporters are right to start clamouring, in numbers that remain small but threaten to grow, for a change of manager? My own view is that those demanding O’Neill’s head are misguided … Worry goes with Sunderland-supporting territory. Of managers currently available, or likely to be tempted by a move to Sunderland, I can think of none from whom I’d expect an improvement on Martin O’Neill.
I will stick to that for the foreseeable future. We should regard ourselves in for the long haul with MoN. Perhaps he needs to raise his game; the players certainly need to raise theirs. But keeping the faith is not the same as clinging to blind faith …
** Most readers will be Amazon customers. It can be a cheap and quick was of doing the Christmas shopping as well as serving your own needs. If you buy through the Salut! Sunderland Amazon link – click here – you help towards the site’s running costs at the dsame time as helping yourself. Just go to the link and search the Amazon site for whatever it is you’re after.
Read Monsieur Salut at ESPN: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland?cc=5739
* Read the Norwich City v SAFC ‘Who are You?’: The Very Rev Christopher Dalliston, Dean of Newcastle …