Sunderland v Manchester United: the Republik of Mancunia speaks

Abject apologies yet again to the growing number of people I hear about, from Canada to the North East, who cannot currently visit Salut! Sunderland – and may therefore not even see this apology – or can gain access only intermittently. Arrangements are in hand to shoot the techies.

For those who are still with us, here is our second “Who Are You?” preview from Old Trafford ahead of tomorrow’s game at the Stadium of Light. We turned to our old friend and sparring partner Scott the Red, who runs the mighty Republik of Mancunia fan site. Scott you may recall, was horrified by the incident in which Phil Bardsley was judged to have dived in hope of a sneaking a penalty equaliser in last season’s game. My initial thought was that Bardsley had simply fallen clumsily. Whatever the truth, he was booked for cheating and slagged off unmercifully at RoM for being a Salford lad who ought to have known better when United were still just about in contention for the title. Scott talks more fondly of other Sunderland folk with United links …

Salut! Sunderland: I take it that after your unexpectedly dropped points at Fulham, Everton and Bolton, while Chelsea bomb along, you’re tempted to fax Stamford Bridge conceding defeat in the title race.

We lost at Fulham and Everton last season. We drew this season. It’s frustrating to concede when we did but when Chelsea have played a few teams who will finish in the top half of the league, we’ll be in a better position to judge. Their first ‘test’ was away to City last weekend and they failed miserably. City didn’t even play well but made Chelsea look distinctly average.

Have you forgiven Phil Bardsley yet?

Who?

What is your view of the present state of the boardroom at Old Trafford? What will it take to resolve the ownership/financing structure to your satisfaction?

I’ve thought about this a lot and from the situation we’re in, there’s no ideal solution. You look like the model Barcelona have and that’s enviable, but it’s also impossible for United now. The ideal for us is to have owners who don’t raise prices every season and allow us to spend the money we make. I wouldn’t want a sugar daddy. But Forbes have us down as the most valuable sports franchise in the world (outranking Real Madrid, Dallas Cowboys, NY Yankees etc.) so an owner who would let us reap the benefits of that would be nice.

Salut! Sunderland says: for another United view, see our first “Who Are You?” preview by clicking on the gods – and divers – of Old Trafford

Not content with the existing links between United and Sunderland, Steve Bruce has now brought in Danny Welbeck. Do you think he has what it takes to become a top premier player?

I think he has what it takes to be a Premiership player, but a United player? Well, I’d like to think so. He’s still so young so it’s hard to tell. He’s shown some moments of class in his short time with the first team squad at United, so, why not? He was born 10 minutes from the ground, of course you always want players like that to succeed with the club.

Leaving aside the mischievous tone of the first question, what is your minimum expectation from this season?

The minimum expectation is to win something, whatever it may be.

And what will be the finishing top four in order, and the bottom three?

Top 4: United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs. Bottom 3: West Brom, West Ham and Wolves.

Which away fans make most impression at Old Trafford and which other Premier ground do you find the quietest in terms of home fans’ noise?

I’ve been disappointed with all the away teams this season. Saying that, I sit in the opposite corner, so couldn’t be further away. Newcastle were alright but I expected a lot more considering they bill themselves as some mental bunch, particularly with it being their return to the top flight. Any away team that scores sings for a bit but otherwise generally unimpressive. Stoke are pretty noisy, but that’s usually more to do with berating United players/fans than supporting their own players. Going away, Middlesbrough are rubbish and Blackburn are dreadful. It always amazes me how few chants so many clubs have.

We banged on a lot last year about diving, feigning injury and haranguing refs to book or send off opponents. People point fingers at Rooney and Nani but every club has its candidates (some say Bent and Malbranque go down with great ease). Is it time to abandon high-minded principles and accept cheating as part of the game?

If refs could watch video footage of games after the final whistle and hand out punishments for diving/feigning injury, I’d be all for it. But until it’s handled properly, there’s not much point in making a fuss. Until the FA take it seriously, how can the rest of us? Same goes for players backchatting the ref. Nobody wants to see their players cheat and you really don’t want to see your opposition cheat (particularly when they get away with it) but the FA, Uefa or Fifa don’t seem too arsed about dealing with it.

What do you make of Bruce’s progress at Sunderland, and how did he rate in your affections, when a player, by comparison with Keano?

Brucey brought out a video called Captain’s Log when I was a lad. I watched it over and over. Bruce is very much associated with our return to the top so will always be remembered fondly for that reason. He also is a genuinely nice chap, down to earth, who loved being a United player. Keano is very different but he has as much, if probably not more, respect from United fans. If Keano wasn’t a United player, say he had been at one of our rivals, I probably would have hated him. Fans tend to love players like that when they play for you. He was a proper scrapper. I remember seeing an interview with Fergie about him and, whilst not quoting word for word, he said something along the lines of… ‘Keane wasn’t the fastest player in the squad, but in training, he would always be the first to the ball.’ He dragged us through games and if not for his performance against Juve in ’99, we’d never have won the Treble.

Did the World Cup leave you cold or cannot you wait for the next one?

I’m not a big fan of International football but was strangely looking forward to the World Cup this summer, which is probably why it was an even bigger let down. None of the big players showed up. Spain and Holland didn’t blow teams away the way you imagined they would. They looked more like Inter Milan than Barcelona. Boring.

Best players you have ever seen in United colours – and worst?

Best players are Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Cristiano Ronaldo. The worst? Taibi, Prunier and Bosnich.


Will you be at our game? What will be the score?

I applied for tickets but didn’t get them. Story of my season so far where away days are concerned. I think we’ll win 2-1.


* Scott the Red on Scott the Red’s site:

Things with the site – click here – are going really well. We just had our busiest day ever a couple of weeks ago which was pretty cool. The biggest project we have going on at the moment is ‘Dig out your old shirts’, where we’re urging fans to go retro and wear shirts of days gone by instead of purchasing Glazer’s latest shirt, in a bid to put more financial pressure on them. Over the summer, we’ve been giving away old shirts every few weeks – one winner is pictured – which has been pretty cool.

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13 thoughts on “Sunderland v Manchester United: the Republik of Mancunia speaks”

  1. I didn’t realise Sunderland fans were so bitter. Jealousy is a terrible thing. I too have a soft spot for Sunderland but the fans, not so much.

  2. Must admit I feel Scott has a point or two here. The riposte on Bardsley was good-humoured and I found nothing arrogant or objectionable in his other replies. We’ve a good rapport between our sites which i hope continues. Scott: I did, however, find the tone of comments at your place during the ticket allocation row a bit over the top. Not yours, some of the commenters.

  3. Keith – I said “who?” because Bardsley means nothing to me now. Always liked the lad and wanted him to do well with United and beyond but honestly couldn’t believe he’d cheat like that to try and rob us points when we were still in the title race. I would have thought that was fairly obvious given the introduction and the question.

    Tom Lynne – Don’t be so precious. Bizarre to get so upset because I refer to my team as ‘United’. I was asked about away fans. The away fans we typically have at United haven’t impressed me. As you have acknowledged, our away support is spot on. Everyone knows that Old Trafford isn’t packed out with die hard reds, so I find it bizarre when people criticise our support for it. What excuse do Sunderland have for being so quiet at home? No plastics there, are there?

    SalutSunderland – Of course United fans are aware our club is disliked. But the anger from some of the comments on here is baffling. I struggle to believe you see anti-SAFC stuff on United sites though. Why would we have a dislike of Sunderland? As has been previously mentioned, following all the links between the clubs, I’d argue a lot of United fans have a soft spot for Sunderland. I didn’t say anything insulting on here so really am surprised at the rabid response. Bizarre.

  4. Tufty should be aware that Salut! Sunderland – or half of it; we’re a democracy – supported the Man United fans’ protest about ticket allocation last season.

    Man U fans are good away from home. At Old Trafford, they are, of course, numerous but they are also silent, as Mr Keane may have observed. I’ve been there when we’ve made a lot more noise than home fans while losing heavily.

    El_Diablo; it’s mainly just banter. Some people, fans of all clubs, have a particular dislike of Manchester United. I happen not to share that, but it’s hardly a phenomenon confined to Sunderland supporters. I’ve seen much worse anti-SAFC stuff at MUFC sites than you would ever find in reverse form here.

  5. United fan here. I actually have a soft spot for Sunderland, of course because of the obvious Manchester United relations, but also because you always seem to do well against the bin dippers lately. Reading the comments here though, I have to ask: why such bitterness?

  6. The only pathetic thing is how Sunderland constantly use United as an example with the local authorities, reducing the away allocation season on season.
    Time United hit back and gave no tickets to Sunderland fans for their visit to Old Trafford, not that you would notice given they never sell their allocation and fail to sing anything other than “You’ll never walk alone”.
    You have to question who Sunderland fans support, even pathetic Chelsea chants at the Stadium of Plastic last season.

  7. Support is not about chants and songs, it’s about roaring your team home. We can do it, the Mags can do it, Everton can do it. United are far more interested in singing some bloody silly song that their songwriter has penned. They really are an annoying bunch aren’t they.
    The disease even afflicts the spin off club, FC United of Manchester, who seem much more involved in writing ditties than supporting their team.
    It gets more and more like that wonderful Fast Show sketch with John Thompson as the incredibly bourgeois Arsenal “fan” who takes a hamper to the game.
    We know what support is; it is forged in adversity, not in the comfort zone that these people live in. They will never, ever know the power of the Roker Roar.

  8. All the so called Man u supporters (T**ts) giving the Sunderland replies the thumbs down are we? They wonder why they are a despised club. I liked your reply Tom

  9. Aye, typically cocky skirt wearing, shandy drinking Man U fan. When he gives his top four, number one is ‘United’. Which one?
    Okay we know he doesn’t mean West Ham or N*******e but the media do this too and its patronising and annoying. He was right about the big players not turning up for the last World Cup.
    The worst offender, Mr Big Shot Rooney [two World Cups, no goals, no impression] being the best example but not mentioned.
    As for his comments re away fans, as an away fan who goes to Plastic-Trafford with Sunderland, the lack of enthusiasm from the home support is always ironocally amusing seeing as they think they’re something special, yet the biggest memories you come away with from that place with is that it must be the quietest
    75,000 capacity stadium on earth [the Emirates being the quietest 60,000 capacity example], the number of camera flashes that go off when the Japanese tourists take photo’s of Giggs or whoever taking a corner and how when you hear a Mancunian accent you think you’re in the wrong stadium.
    Their away fans song repetoire is excellent and this is because these are mainly old-skool supporters or offspring of, who were part of Man U before the Sky TV influenced Disneyfication of
    their club that makes Old Trafford one of my least anticipated away matches of the season. Mare to get in and out of, too many plastic fans and hard to have a beer anywhere nearby.

  10. If Welbeck was born 10 minutes from the ground most of the supports need a map to find it. condescending elitist and disparaging to Sunderland, Bardsley Who? what an insult to the man and our club.

  11. Didn’t like this posting. Reading between the lines Same old Man U fan thinking they are better than anyone else. Jumped up T**t

  12. Usual health warning:

    All comments welcome but Salut! Sunderland has become such favoured prey of the international spam vermin – take your pick: Viagra, quack health cures, dodgy loans, escort girls, garden fences, wrestling, weight loss – that people commenting for the first time will experience a short delay for moderation.

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