So here we go again. After the ups, downs and constant threat of Down last season, what is in store for Sunderland AFC in 2008-2009? Pete Sixsmith starts with a party political broadcast – and makes unnecessary reference to a distressing forthcoming milestone – before getting down to the more serious business of SAFC. He sees every reason to hope for improvement on last season’s effort, but warns that our strike power remains limited……
Well, the pre-season is over and we are hours away from the opening of another season of thrills, spills and drama.
Unfortunately, I won’t be watching much this year as I have taken the advice of the Policy Exchange, have abandoned the North East and moved to a tidy little gaffe in Henley-on-Thames.
Of course, there are plenty of Liverpool and Manchester United fans here but Cameron’s mates were right: it is a better standard of living. I can drink Theakstons beer (brewed in North Yorkshire), eat a Greggs pasty (baked in Gosforth), open an account with the Co-op bank(based in Manchester) and drive around in my Nissan Qashqi (built in Sunderland).
In fact, I could live in the Deep South East and never buy anything that came from that area. I bet the brickies who built the houses didn’t come from Wokingham!
Use this as a stark reminder of what the Tories are all about. Remember Thatcher!
Now we’ve got the political satire out of the way, what about our prospects for the coming season?
I have to say that I genuinely feel that we will make progress from last season. In August 2007 we would have happily accepted 15th place and I really think that we can move on and break into the top 12 of the Premier League.
Much depends on whether Kenwyne is back by October and on the outcome of our attempts to buy another forward between now and the end of August. If not, we will have to rely on the industrious but somewhat limited Murphy and the mercurial Diouf. Stokes and Chopra will have opportunities, but as in the past, they may not be good enough to take them
We look well stocked in midfield with the acquisition of Tainio and Malbranque. They, along with Whitehead, Edwards, Miller, Leadbitter, Reid and Richardson make us look competitive in this area, and hopefully the Lapp and the Belgian will teach our home grown players how to control and pass a ball.
At the back, there is the nagging feeling that the centre of defence is going to be a recurring problem. Nozza should be ok, while Collins and Chimbonda have been the ones favoured to play alongside him in the warm up games. I would be tempted to go for Chimbonda, bring in Bardsley and keep Collins at left back.
The opening fixtures are difficult. Liverpool were wretched against Standard Liege and we can hope for a repeat, but it is not likely.
Spurs could go either way. As usual, their fans are bulling up their chances but a defeat in Smogland could turn the White Hart Lane “faithful” against them.
Manchester City remain the great enigma and now they are run by Thailand’s equivalent of George Reynolds, anything could happen. We might even be facing a managerless side when Colin’s 60th birthday rolls around on Aug 29.
A home win on Saturday would be a great start and it might even make the Policy Exchange sit up and realise that there is a lot more to cities than Iced Lattes, sushi bars and clowns like Cameron and Johnson. Forty thousand Mackems roaring the team on to a famous victory is something that no place in the south east could emulate, because We Are The People!!!