Soapbox: nearly a perfect day

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A cruise through to the next round of the Carling Cup, a toaster that works, a working day that brings hope: Pete Sixsmith sees us dismiss Brum with a minimum of fuss and reflects on the bright side of life ..

Once in a while you get one of those days where everything runs perfectly.

Early morning, the toast browns perfectly, the shower temperature is just right and the paper girl delivers early.

At work, everything runs smoothly. In my job, the students are well behaved, they learn how to do new things and remember what they were taught last week. Your colleagues smile at you in the corridors, the sun shines and the coffee you have made is as close to perfection as you will get.

At home, there is a surprise cheque in the post, the library book you put your name down for weeks ago has arrived and there are old friends contacting you via Facebook. With a Lou Reed track playing in the back ground, it really is A Perfect Day.

And then you remember we have a Carling Cup Tie against Birmingham City!!!

The Carling Cup is often a horror show for Sunderland fans. Blackburn last year, Luton the year before, Bury the year before that have all knocked us out as we turned in performances that were way off the dismal scale.

Add to that the fact that Birmingham are a dull side but one who have dumped us out of cups in the past and you have a classic Perfect Day Buster.

However, The Brucester was having none of that and sent a team out with clear instructions to win and win well – which is exactly what we did. Good goals from Henderson (thanks to a superb low centre from Kenwyne) and Campbell (thanks to a superb cross from Snake Hips Andy Reid) meant the game was virtually over by the 25 minute mark, as it was clear to the 20,000 Sunderland fans and the 125 BlueNoses that Birmingham would not score twice.

As a result, I was able to give John Mensah and Paulo Da Silva a little more attention than I would have done had I been in my usual agitated state. I was impressed with both of them, particularly Mensah. He was quick and decisive (his tackle on Phillips set Jones away for the first goal), he won the ball well in the air and he gave an aura of calmness and thoughtfulness in all that he did. Da Silva was not far behind him, reading the game well and using the ball productively whenever he got it. Neither panicked, got flustered, hoofed the ball in the air or gave away a stupid penalty.

Granted, they were playing against a City side who showed as much interest in the Carling Cup as I show in a talk on How To Do Your Job Better by some arse brain from the County Council or Ofsted, but both men showed class and a positive body language that will hopefully inspire those around them. Throw in another smart performance from Andy Reid, a strong first half from Kenwyne and the usual all action set from Captain Cana and you have a most satisfactory night.

Of course, there must be a couple of slight flaws to put all the lovely things into perspective. Let’s start with Mike Dean. He turned in his usual third rate SoL performance, culminating in his decision to wipe off Mensah’s goal after the City keeper had dropped the ball. Once a clown, always a clown. Don’t come back, Mike.

Secondly, a nasty and needless challenge by Kieran Richardson on Stuart Parnaby which saw the City player carried off and Richardson slink away with his head down, knowing he had hurt a fellow pro. That left a sour taste at the end of a good day.

Of course, we are now the only North Eastern team left in The Carling Cup as well as being the only one in the Premier League. The burden of responsibility gets heavier, but hey, we can carry it without any help from our neighbours on the Tyne and the Tees. As I said – before the editor rudely intervened – Just A Perfect Day.

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