That’s Pete Sixsmith‘s appalling pun in the headline – Monsieur Salut is quite capable of coming up with his own – and it’ll be Big Pete’s presence that is felt on BBC 1’s Late Kickoff on Monday night. In what spirits will Tuesday morning find us? Pete discusses the stakes …
Writing this on the Sunday before the make or break game against West Ham, the mood at Sixsmith Towers is not great. Pardew the butler has returned from his spell in chokey after his altercation with O’Meyler, the Irish gamekeeper, and is sulking in the servants’ quarters, complaining to Carver, the under-butler about the unfairness of life and contemplating a return to the London suburbs from whence he came.
Meanwhile, house guest Ellis Short, the Minnesotan Mastermind (or at least that is how he terms himself in that pink paper that arrives – not the Football Echo, The Fishancail Times or something), is adding up huge columns of figures and looking gloomier by the minute. His South American gentleman’s gentleman, Poyet, is looking fairly sanguine, humming a song which good old Maggie Byrne tells me is called Whatever will be, will be. I heard the locals singing it a few weeks ago when they set off by charabanc to see the Empire Exhibition in some God-forsaken part of North London.
They returned with terrible hangovers but full of good cheer and positive about the future. Amazing how things can change in a month – that old adage about March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb, dontcha know?
So, leaving the World of Wodehouse behind, we approach what is the most important game of the season. It was feasible that we would go into it bottom of the league, should Fulham have beaten Everton this afternoon (thanks for small mercies; they didn’t – ed) . Rest assured, the BBC and the national press will be desperately keen for that to happen as a day watching the punts on the banks of the Thames, sipping Pimms in a riverside pub is infinitely more attractive than a cold, blustery afternoon on Wearside surrounded by relics of the industrial revolution.
Yesterday’s results were not great. I would not have expected Chelsea to lose at Selhurst Park. My frustration at Palace inching away from the third relegation spot was somewhat tempered by the sight of the execrable John Terry heading into his own net, but I would have far preferred it had he rattled it past Speroni rather than Cech.
The draw at The Hawthorns was probably the best outcome for us even if it does lift The Redbirds above us (let’s hope temporarily) while Norwich and Hull are back in the mix after their defeats.
But other results count for nothing if we do not win our home games (I am appearing on Mastermind this year, specialist subject The Bleeding Obvious). Three wins at Fortress Monkwearmouth this season explains why we are deep in the brown stuff and why we MUST take 13 points from the remaining 15 available if we are to remain in this division and to retain the services of most of the present playing staff.
There were signs of life at Liverpool on Wednesday and the return of Alonso and Borini may well help. A youthful strike force of him and Wickham could give us the push we need and with Johnson or Ki behind them, there is a great chance of a win. Unless we freeze. Which is likely. We shall see.
Since Wednesday and Liverpool, I have seen games at Southport, St Helens and Guisborough. The Sandgrounders took an important step towards retaining their Conference place with a 2-0 win over Forest Green Rovers (I always expect to see Errol Flynn and Richard Greene turn out for them). The game was played amid a torrential downpour which included thunder and lightning and which looked, at one stage, that it may well be abandoned. A superb goal from winger John O’Sullivan 20 minutes from the end meant that was unlikely, although the Forest Green manager in best Sheriff of Nottingham mode, berated the referee at the end.
Friday saw your intrepid correspondent at Langtree Park, St Helens for their Super League clash with Leeds. It’s a new ground, built amidst the retail parks and circular roads that cut the town off and it replaced the crumbling relic that was Knowsley Road eighteen months ago. It is as prosaic as most new stadiums with standing at both ends and a capacity of 18,000 of which 5,000 places were not taken up. A young Saints side, hit by injuries and suspensions, triumphed over a Leeds side which creaked a bit as the game went on. I sat with the home fans who seemed to prefer picking on the referee to supporting their favourites. To my relatively untutored eye, Mr Silverwood had a decent game. They want to sit through a performance by Andre Marriner or Howard Webb.
A long drive back on Friday night (M6 closed between Preston and Lancaster, thick fog on the A66) meant that I stayed local on Saturday and went to Guisborough to watch Shildon. Fourth versus second, Guisborough scoring 84 goals to Shildon’s 69, two of the league’s leading goal scorers on show – what potential. Ended 0-0 as you would expect.
And so we await the showdown between Gus and Big Sam. The Hammers are unlikely to be dragged in to the fight to stay up although Allardyce may be out of a job anyway. The West Ham faithful vented their collective spleens on him after they beat Hull on Wednesday. Would that we had the luxury to do the same.
SAFC vs West Ham Guess the Score: https://safc.blog/2014/03/sunderland-vs-west-ham-guess-the-score-plus-champions-league-final-comp/
** The SAFC vs West Ham ‘Who are You?’ with TalkSPORT’s The Moose, aka Ian Abahams: https://safc.blog/2014/03/safc-v-west-ham-who-are-you-talksports-the-moose-hunted-down/
Salut! Sunderland: Your thoughts on Sunderland, the club, the fans, the region?
The Moose: I know Gus Poyet and have always got on with him well. I was at his first ever press conference when he arrived from Chelsea. I have only ever been to Sunderland once and being honest the one thing I would say is it’s High Street is nicer as a place than Middlesborough lol.
– See more at: https://safc.blog/2014/03/safc-v-west-ham-who-are-you-talksports-the-moose-hunted-down/#sthash.zp7tbMwO.dpuf
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