Right. That’s the pre-match build-up almost over.
There has been such a bewildering array of signings, departures, rumours and bust-ups that your guess is as good as mine on the likely starting 11 for Sunderland.
We await with interest news of the intended roles for Danny Welbeck, a welcome addition on loan from Manchester United, Manchester City’s defender Nedum Onuoha – also on loan – and one very important Darren Bent, well enough known in this parish but apparently no more than 50-50 because of the back injury that kept him from turning out to double England’s margin of victory the other night.
No last-minute goalkeeping signing means Simon Mignolet is set to make his Premier debut, but we can take heart from Pete Sixsmith’s glowing assessment of his ability after the Hoffenheim game and cling to the belief that Steve Bruce has discovered, in Belgium, the sort of gem they usually ask a mint for in Antwerp.
My last SAFC v Birmingham game at home, unless memory misleads, was as long ago as 1999, when we beat them 2-1 in the last game of that wonderful promotion season (Peter Reid’s second championship as SAFC manager).
Pete – Sixer not Reid – has retold the story, at least once, of our well-oiled celebration of that occasion which ended in O’Neill’s in Durham, where we managed to pin Chris Makin into a corner while missing the entertainment provided elsewhere by a lively difference of opinion between the partners of Mr Martin Smith and Mr Paul Butler. It may even be true, as reported at the time, that Mrs Smith explained the incident on the Butlers being “from Bury”.
Tomorrow night, I want no fisticuffs involving friends or relations of our gallant band of players, just sensible celebration of three points from the opening game.