Salut! week: Birmingham woes, sadness for Fraizer (except in Hull)

This is the weekly digest of what has been going on at Salut! Sunderland for readers in a hurry. It started as most weeks do these days, scratching heads and pointing fingers after one more defeat to add to our growing collection. But there’s been much, more more …

There has not been much to cheer us up of late. So you may wish to skip all the navel-gazing that went on after the 2-0 defeat at St Andrew’s, when we were simply unable to turn our dominance for much of the game into a goal or two.

Read moreSalut! week: Birmingham woes, sadness for Fraizer (except in Hull)

SAFC v Wigan Athletic: we knew Bernard would have his say

Thanks to Bernard Platt, Wigan Athletic AFC & This Northern Soul

Bernard Ramsdale, as is well enough known around here, has long been among our favourite opposing supporters, and romped to victory in our first “Who are You” awards. He formerly ran the Latics’ fan site Ye Olde Tree and Crown. Now, he is a key part of the team behind the excellent This Northern Soul, bringing together like-minded, Wigan-supporting sites. This is his preview of tomorrow’s match, so important to both clubs, reproduced from TNS with Bernard’s consent (he asked for a guaranteed three points in lieu of payment and I’m hoping Steve Bruce can make my polite refusal come true) …

Wigan Athletic head to the North East this weekend where they will lock horns once again with their former manager Steve Bruce, who despite shopping at Harrods is heading for the bargain bucket at “Discount Daisy’s”. Roberto Martinez will be hoping for his first ever set of back to back victories whilst Bruce will be hoping to finally beat Martinez in a competitive game for the first time. Something’s got to give!

Read moreSAFC v Wigan Athletic: we knew Bernard would have his say

French Fancies: no cup joy for Eric Roy or Arsenal Ladies

French women are doing OK, but there’s mixed news of the footballing men of Salut! Sunderland‘s choice. Here’s another of our looks at French football …

Since a lot of readers are coming this way from the Sunderland Women’s Football Club site, thanks to a terrific piece Rob Hutchison wrote here about a women’s game he attended and which has been flagged there, I ought to cross the Ts on the Arsenal v Lyon semi-final of the female equivalent of the Champions’ League.

No apologies for repeating the clip showing two beautifully taken goals by Lyon’s Lotta Schelin in the first leg at the Stade de Gerland. Two-nil up, they gave themselves a decent cushion for the return leg just outside London – and well as making me think Steve Bruce could do worse than sign Lotta on emergency loan to play alongside Asamoah Gyan for our remaining games.

Read moreFrench Fancies: no cup joy for Eric Roy or Arsenal Ladies

Fraizer Campbell: sympathy and encouragement

When Fraizer Campbell hit all four goals in Sunderland’s 4-2 win against Hull City during the summer warm-ups in Portugal, he must have thought to himself: “This is going to be a great season for me.”

Having seen him as our most improved player towards the end of last season, I certainly agreed. But just over a month later, on Aug 29, as my birthday was rewarded by a 1-0 win over Man City with that last-minute penalty by one Darren Bent, Campbell suffered an accidental knee injury and began a long layoff.

Read moreFraizer Campbell: sympathy and encouragement

Wigan ‘Who are You?’: eating pies, fighting relegation, hailing Three Amigos

We’re going early with this week’s “Who are You?”. It would be easy to say this was because it is such an important match that it was high time to stop carping about what has made it so. The more humdrum reason: I’m away in Italy today and will have my work cut out on Thursday. My thanks to Kieran Heapy, otherwise known as HeapyLatic on Wigan Athletic sites – including his own, Pie Eaters Footie* and the one through which we found him, This Northern Soul – for saving poor old Salut! Sunderland award-winning Bernard Ramsdale from having to do it again for the umpteenth time …

Salut! Sunderland: I hoped the tone of this question would have needed changing after last weekend, but not so. Can there be any Premier team you’d rather have to play than us just now?

It would be Blackpool, even though we have just played them, they are the team that are currently on the slide. They look very much like Burnley did last season, started well but second half of the season they have been found out and teams can stop them playing. Saying that you still have to be on top of the game, there really haven’t been any easy games this season, and any win has to be very well fought for.

Read moreWigan ‘Who are You?’: eating pies, fighting relegation, hailing Three Amigos

Blackpool, Wigan, West Ham, Wolves favourites for drop; what odds us?

Mrs Logic

The following headline, a staggeringly self-evident gem of its kind, appeared at the Ladbroke’s site (where you can get only 10/1 on us to go down) …

Home games liable to determine Sunderland’s season

With insight like that, who needs to consult any other pundit?

Read moreBlackpool, Wigan, West Ham, Wolves favourites for drop; what odds us?

Birmingham Soapbox: better but still not good enough

Steve Bruce took a lot more consolation from a 2-0 defeat at St Andrew’s than our own Pete Sixsmith, who – when not noting with grudging admiration the class of Seb Larsson – recognised some improvement but felt it stopped a long way short of what was required …

As recent performances go, this one wasn’t bad – although that really is damning it with faint praise. But it was another defeat, another drop in the table and an entry ticket to the scrap that is taking place to avoid visits to Coventry, Barnsley and Middlesbrough next season.

There are some positives that we can take from this. The passing was sharper and crisper than of late. We did create some chances. The team seemed to be together. On another day, we could have won or at least taken a much needed point.

Read moreBirmingham Soapbox: better but still not good enough

Darren Bent, the curse of the ‘calculated gamble’ and a Stoke ps

Missing your goals

At some stage this week, we need to stop banging on about how to apportion blame for an atrocious run that has taken Sunderland from the fringes of European competition to the bleak familiarity of a relegation scrap.

We need to get behind the team, whatever some may think about its leadership, and provide encouragement for the home game (nearly said vital but they all are, potentially, now) against Wigan Athletic.

As seems to be our lot, we will face newly emboldened opponents. The 3-1 win at Blackpool has Latics fans simpering at the prospect of survival, not least when they see our state of disarray. It also shows, ominously, that they can score goals.

Read moreDarren Bent, the curse of the ‘calculated gamble’ and a Stoke ps

Stick-in-the-mud day recalled as Man City await Stoke or Bolton

MudImage: Peter Burgess

FA Cup semi-finals weekend: we weren’t involved after our meek early exit. We now know Man City will be back at Wembley for the final, having beaten Man United. Bolton and Stoke battle it out – hardly the phrase now I’ve seen the 5-0 scoreline in City’s favour – today to decide who will be the pundits’ tip for losing finalists. We also have yet another Sunderland Premier defeat to try to forget, as we will in time. So while Pete Sixsmith sharpens his pen (and maybe knife) before delivering his Soapbox view on that one, let’s take another shameless dip into the archives, from the days when Salut! Sunderland had so few readers such postings were probably not seen at all. It did also appear in a matchday SAFC programme but if you missed it in either place, and have a soft spot for other people’s hard luck stories, read on. You’ll learn about a Big Match day out – our last appearance in an FA Cup semi-final, back in 2004 – that sticks nastily in the memory for some Sunderland supporters …

It is bad enough being dumped out of the FA Cup after reaching the semi-finals and a game against Millwall that we all expect to win.

But you know it’s not your day when you are then dumped in the mud near Derby – sorry, County fans, nothing personal about the location – on your way home.

Read moreStick-in-the-mud day recalled as Man City await Stoke or Bolton

Must the Reserves really play Preston semi-final behind closed doors?

In the semi-final of the ToteSport Cup on May 4, Sunderland Reserves will play Preston Reserves.

Pete Sixsmith would doubtless have done his utmost to be there, along with a few hundred other hardy souls to whom reserve team football offers a fascinating insight into the way things are going through the club.

Read moreMust the Reserves really play Preston semi-final behind closed doors?