At this stage of the season points are more important than performances, and no-one knows this better than Pete Sixsmith who, having narrowly avoided a heart attack while watching the match, goes on to enjoy a few pints of Deuchars and the impending demise of N**c***** Utd.
One of our better ones, I feel, at least results-wise. Nearly every result we could have wished for went our way.
First of all, we had to make sure that we pushed Hull City further down the slippery slope to the Great Grimpen Mire of the Championship. And we did it. I know it wasn’t the greatest of performances, but we won, had a little stroke of good fortune re. the goal and came away fairly certain that The Tigers will be sharpening their claws at Blackpool, Preston and Newcastle (dare to dream) next season.
It was a spectacularly awful game with both sides nervous and edgy. Hull came out with the express intention of breaking the game up and making sure that we did not control the midfield. Fortunately, Tainio and Leadbitter were not bullied out of the game by Boateng and Marney. Mike Dean’s reluctance to book any of their players until he was forced into it didn’t help and I still can’t fathom out how he could keep Mendy on the field after he kicked Richardson. Mike Dean, International Man of Mystery.
They never really threatened to score, partly due to the fact that they are clueless and partly due to the fact that Davenport, Bardsley and Collins thrive on games like this where their technical deficiencies can be covered up by their whole hearted commitment and effort. Bardsley looked like the captain we need to get us out of this mess and Davenport is the strong header of the ball that gives Gordon confidence and encourages him to come and claim centres – or in Hull’s case, hoofs. Collins is just, well, Collins, so that leaves Anton, who got away with two basic errors that any other Premier League side (except Boro and the Skunks) would have punished. He has had a good season, but he needs to concentrate.
We attempted to play the ball wide and Carlos looked much happier against the Championship players in the Hull line up than he does when facing grizzled Premier League defenders, while Reid worked hard and should have scored when Cisse started off the move of the game, only for Andy to run out of puff as he approached the goal.
Kenwyne worked hard and was tremendous in defence, winning some great headers, while the tattooed one foraged and looked for openings against defenders who gambled in catching him offside. He took the goal well (thanks to the linesman) and seemed warmed up and ready to get us out of this bloody mess we find ourselves in, yet again.
The other results were more than satisfactory, Blackburn lost and were hopeless, Bolton lost and were hopeless, Boro drew and were hopeless. We were hopeless as well, but we won and at this stage of the season that is all you need. The journey home was a relatively happy one after the old blood pressure had boiled over in the second half.
Saturday evening was spent in the company of the proprietor of the site and his good lady. Lord Randall has seen the last two games and I believe he has been in contact with Ellis Short with regard to investing the profits from Salut! Sunderland in the club. His fleeting appearances before he jets off to his home on the Cote d’Azure led to a summons to his Swaledale residence to eat and drink with him and generally tell him what a wonderful proprietor he is and how we so look forward to him descending on us here at Salut!Sunderland Towers. A splendid meal and some splendid beer (unfortunately his Lordship had indigestion and had to retire early; serves him right for drinking red wine rather than Deuchars!) rounded off a perfect day.
Next morning, we were up bright and early for a hack around his estate after breakfast. As we followed him at a respectful distance we heard of his plans for next season and the unlimited funds that Ricky Sbragia, or whoever is our manager will be provided with as a result of the huge profits generated by Salut. Then, he left us as quickly as he came, heading for London in his top of the range BMW and making us all feel stronger and better people after being graced by his presence. As he pressed a large brown bag stuffed with currency into my hand, he muttered the words that we journalists love to hear; “And there’s more where that came from, son. Keep it going – know what I mean”
Sunday’s results were a help as well. Another miserable performance by Big Al and his Bunch of Losers (if you want a good laugh, go to www.true-faith.co.uk), followed by another defeat for West Brom and then rounded off by Everton getting to the Cup Final and (hopefully) giving up on league games brought an end to a most enjoyable weekend. Pity I have to go back to work tomorrow!