In the piece I have just written for ESPN, and which now appears at the Sunderland pages, I began by raising the question of whether we are just in one cup competition too many.
In the time between starting to write and, after an interruption for a family chore, finishing the article, I reached my conclusion:
I have rediscovered the loyalty and single-mindedness that inspire my allegiance … remembered the sadness felt at losing meaningless end-of-season games with nothing at stake. There was even the time I seriously considered taking time off work and driving from London to Yorkshire for a midweek, evening fixture in which Sunderland reserves had the chance of winning a title.
If my wish is granted, then, Sunderland will reach the last eight with a sparkling display against Mauricio Pochettino’s impressive Saints and confidence-boosting goals from Jozy Altidore and whoever else needs encouragement for the momentous league battle that lies between now and the last, possibly decisive game of the season – at home to the winners of the 2013 Capital One Cup, Swansea City.
What do you think? And what do think will be the score? This is the place to say so. Just for fun.
I just hope Pete Sixsmith’s attempts to text me score updates are more successful when I am on a long weekend in Lisbon that from assorted Premier League grounds.