Sunderland vs Leicester ‘Guess the Score’: when Claudio eased jingle-jangling nerves

Jake: 'this is the Biggie, me bonny Lads'
Jake: ‘this is the massive one, me bonny Lads’

Not for the first time, but we hope for the last this season, we approach a game of momentous importance.

As every schoolboy ought to know, a win on Saturday for Sunderland and a defeat or draw for Hull City would ensure our survival. After a season in which we have truly earned very little, we at last deserve the result we need on the strength of recent performances.

Dick Advocaat said he was resigned to the need to win ugly if necessary. There has not been much pretty about any of the three victories he has managed – Jermain Defoe’s sensational strike against Newcastle apart – but 10 points out of 15 is survival form and the manager can be proud of that.

But as we all agreed last weekend, after the heartwarmingly dogged display at Everton, the job is not quite done. Hull or even Newcastle could do it for us but how much better if we could dig ourselves out of the hole.

Swansea’s win at Arsenal on Monday night makes our task at the Emirates next Wednesday a whole lot harder. The Gunners will be desperate for points in their own fight at the other end of the Premier and are unlikely to be as wasteful in a second successive home game against opposition they’d normally expect and be expected to beat comfortably.

We can hope they are shattered after Sunday’s match at Old Trafford but that is a seriously slender straw to clutch at. And then there’s Chelsea, in party mood after romping to the title – nothing at stake for them which, given the man-for-man quality gap, feels dangerous to say the least.

Sunderland can hope to repeat the heroics of a year ago – which included that superb win at Stamford Bridge – but it is, in all honesty, an extraordinary and entirely improbably scenario.

So Guess the Score for the final home game of the season. On April Fools’ Day 2002, also desperate for a win, we overcame Leicester 2-1 with goals from Claudio Reyna either side of a Paul Dickov equaliser.

Source: US Soccer
American hero. Source: US Soccer

This extract from Michael Walker’s report for The Guardian‘s vividly captures the bum-clenching nature of the occasion:

Jingle, jangle – that traditionally is the sound nerves make when exercised. Here yesterday, despite Sunderland being in the lead for a combined total of 78 minutes, they were clanging like Big Ben at midnight.

As the final minute approached the nerves got even louder. Leicester were attacking in ever greater numbers and with ever greater belief. Then came two minutes of added time and the latest of City’s lengthy series of long throws.

This one came in from the substitute Jon Ashton. There was a clatter of red and white shirts jumping for it. But, when the ball dropped, it was to a man in blue. Lee Marshall caught it first time and it was goalbound until it struck another Leicester player.

The ball was diverted wide of Thomas Sorensen’s goal and 10 seconds later the final whistle went. It was accompanied by a cheer they will have heard on ships in the North Sea.

Let Pete Sixsmith’s smile on Saturday evening be as broad as it will have been that day, and as it was at Goodison. We went on that season to lose three of our remaining matches and draw the other two, but stayed up with four points to spare. That safety margin would work again for most of us …

Usual rules apply: be first with the correct score, post it before kickoff and you win a mug, like the one shown with the name of your choice as No 12, from our Guess the Score sponsors Personalised Football Gifts, who will come up with a suitable alternative if a Foxes supporter post the winning entry.

You could be the next No 12. A Leicester-supporting winner would get a mug suited to his or her tastes
You could be the next No 12. A Leicester-supporting winner would get a mug suited to his or her tastes

And Ha’way the Lads.

Come back for the SAFC vs Leciester City “Who are You?”, an interview with a Foxes fan who agrees with ‘arry Redknapp – remember him – that Sunderland are the worst side in the Premier. He doesn’t expect to make himself especially popular around here.

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake
M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake
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26 thoughts on “Sunderland vs Leicester ‘Guess the Score’: when Claudio eased jingle-jangling nerves”

  1. I hope you’ll be coming on here next season Smoggie. I might get a mug by Christmas.

    Good luck to the Boro btw.

    • By dont the times change. Not so long since you lot were saying bugger off smoggie, you cannot spell. Grand win for Boro yesterday but lets wait and see, I’m just happy with the season we’ve had

  2. Still think we will stay up with 38 points to Hull’s 37 but with us drawing against Leicester (3-3) and Arsenal and Hull beating Spurs.

  3. SAFC 3 Leicester 0.

    I’m not that confident. Just irritated by the bloke who did WAY this week.

  4. I’ve a feeling Hull won’t get the points they need. The fact we have a game in hand with a 4 goal GD advantage on the Mags looks like another safety net – but it could actually go against us. Say Hull beat Spurs and neither us nor the Mags win another game – that 4 goal advantage could easily be wiped out. Leicester are going to be tough to beat – they are on a roll and we can’t score proper goals at the moment.

    No prediction from me except that I will be squirming in my seat on Saturday until (unless) we go three nil up. Villa losing the early kick off would be a bonus and an incentive to both ourselves and Leicester but then so should a Villa win because they’d be out of the relegation mix.

    I’m hoping that by 5.00 on Saturday we are safe – it could be a long week otherwise.

    • You mirror my fears exactly Malcolm, but I’m going up for the match and will then attend a Bryan Ferry gig the following evening at N’cle City Hall.

      After 40+ years following the guy, if we beat Leicester it will be a truly memeorable weekend for me and I will forego getting dressed up to the usual Roxy Music nines and will wear my Roker Park t-shirt….should go down well.

      • Once at the National Forest Folk Festival, I met Billy Mitchell (Mag supporting sometime member of Lindisfarne) by the beer tent and as I’d enjoyed his set offered to buy him a pint. He wasn’t too impressed with what I was wearing – a RTG tee-shirt with a picture of Shack and his famous comment “I’m not biased against Newcastle. I don’t care who beats them!”

        He still had the pint though!

      • I once saw Billy with Sunderland-supporting Bob Fox at the Davy Lamp folk club in Washington (Sixer and your sister Joan were meant to come but the place was full). We’d just beaten Liverpool with Darren Bent’s beach ball goal and I think the Mags had lost that day. Bob gave it to Billy unmercifully and the Sunderland fans in the audience – no Mags, from memory, made themselves known – lapped it up. But they played a terrific set.

  5. It’s going to be a hard-fought, nail-biting game. Both teams are up for it. With our supporters in full voice adding to the mix, I’m going for a slender 1-0 win. Lets hope Hull lose or draw!

  6. All the best scores have gone already so 3-0 to you lot and Jeremy gets the mug if you havent given him one already lol

  7. Defend, defend, defend, Defoe, squeekybumtime, defend, defend, Defoe………and Relax…..2-0 to the Lads another Escape from the drop and give the mug to Smoggie 🙂

  8. I’ve watched Leicester play all season, and the majority of their play has been very very good. Definitely unlucky to not have more points. Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea were all very lucky to win against them. Hate to say it but I think Leicester will have us over.

      • I’m hoping they won’t expose us with their pace; the likes of Swansea & Southampton really struggled to keep up with them – I hope we can compete and give them a real go. 1-2 to Leicester. I’ll take a draw.

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