John McCormick writes: Pete Sixsmith will be on Santa duty shortly. I suspect he will be happy to have a break from poor defending and poor forwards although we may have done just enough to stay in contention on a day when other late goals worsened our position.
Perhaps Pete will let us know in a match report tomorrow if Malcolm Dawson is not the designated provider. Whoever it is, until then we’ll have to rely on Pete’s seven word text from a very wet Stadium of Light
Another international weekend with Sunderland players called up. You might wonder how, given that we’re a League One club and we can barely score, never mind keep a clean sheet. But let’s be thankful for small mercies, not only does it give the players a weekend without conceding, it also gives me a chance to bring us up to date before Pete Sixsmith starts a new series (I won’t tell you what it is but I will assure you of its quality) that will take us to Christmas and the site’s wind-down.
For my part, I’ll be keeping things brief. I still have neuropathy following my treatment (follow the link to find out what I’m on about) and it’s likely to last a lot longer. Typing isn’t easy and creating and manipulating graphs takes forever, which explains why this lot aren’t a uniform size.
Still, things could be worse, I’ve now had two all-clear blood tests and we are still within spitting distance of the playoffs, as you will see below:
John McCormick, associate editor, writes: things have quietened down with our ‘who to follow’ poll, as we might expect. Portsmouth, Sunderland and Ipswich are clear leaders, with not much between them, after which we have Rotherham and Peterborough. Then comes Coventry, followed at a distance by Donny, Lincoln and Burton.
That’s interesting because on Wednesday over at Roker Report, Nick Barnes, who knows more about football than I ever will, identified Lincoln and Burton as teams that could mount a challenge to Sunderland, along with Ipswich, Portsmouth, Peterborough and Coventry. He didn’t mention Rotherham.
I could extend our watch list to eight clubs, even nine on the grounds that Donny are ahead of Lincoln and Burton in our poll, and I have added clubs during the season – Luton last season being the most recent – but it makes graphics difficult to follow. So I’m going to stick with six.
On Friday we had over 3,000 visitors, followed by a quiet weekend. Not everyone took part in our top six poll but over 1200 votes (not voters) have now been cast. That’s not bad, I suppose, for a League One fans’ site but I am expecting a few more will chip in before the season kicks off.
Early results suggest the headline I used then – for which I visited a couple of betting sites to find the promotion favourites – was on the right lines. Of the six clubs I named five are in the top spots. Lincoln (currently lingering in 8th place) are the exception with Sunderland, unsurprisingly, replacing them. There’s a gap – slight but quite evident – between the top three and the next three, after which numbers drop off, so Lincoln and Doncaster, who made last season’s playoffs and now lie seventh, have quite a bit of ground to make up.
All of the clubs in the League received votes, which I’m taking to signify that we managed a wide reach. It will be interesting to see if enough fans of so-called smaller clubs, which are predominantly towards the bottom of the poll, visit in large enough numbers to move their favourites upwards. Crowdwise, numbers are against them but we have only small numbers voting so you never know.
Last season our punters got it more or less right and correctly predicted most of the top six. Luton were missed but that was mainly down to the Coventry Ninjas, whose hijack of last year’s poll pushed them (Luton) out of the top places.
Maybe the ninjas or another club’s fans will do the same again this season. As far as I’m aware the polldaddy vulnerability that allowed multiple voting still exists and all I can do is disable the ability of readers to see the results in real time. That might change how the poll coding works (it’s built-in and can’t be changed) but it takes something away. A pity, but there we go.
I’ve got a lot on for the next few weeks so I won’t be conjuring up a novel method of tracking and displaying our chosen clubs’ progress or the lack of it. All I’ll be doing is monitoring the accretion of points for now, though I might come up with something different later in the season.
As always, your comments are welcome. We hold posts for moderation but they do go up eventually, subject to meeting commonsense rules of decency, manners, libel etc.
Fans, understandably, look at new signings and, if a player is coming on a free transfer, feel underwhelmed and wonder whether progress is actually being made.
Long experience has taught Monsieur Salut to avoid rash judgements just because July starts without any major new additions. On that wretched but sometimes useful thing that is social media (beware, Trump’s there a lot), there are already early signs of concern, dismay and even panic among Sunderland supporters. Trump hasn’t yet expressed a view.
But Lee Burge, a goalkeeper newly released by Coventry City. arrives at the SoL as stand-in and competition – PLEASE, not as a replacement – for the excellent Jon Mclaughlin. He and Conor McLaughlin, a full back from Millwall, appear to be Jack Ross’s choices and for as long as we keep the faith in Ross, we must trust his judgement.
And come what may, Burge and McLaughlin – their photos appear by courtesy of safc.com –
deserve and get the traditional Salut! Sunderland welcome.
I thought I’d take a look at their finances. Nothing detailed, just a skim through any entries at Companies House and a quick perusal of a search engine, enough to kill some time I have and satisfy idle curiosity. My idea was to divide the twenty into two and cover 10 clubs each time. After that matters should have moved ahead with the Lancashire Bs and Sunderland’s takeover and I should be able to revisit these four.
This will be my last visit to our “ones to watch* series before the end of the season.
You’ll have to judge for yourself whether or not our readership, ably assisted by the Coventry Ninjas**, got it right at the beginning. For my part, with three of the five – Portsmouth, Charlton and Barnsley – fighting for second place and another two still with a chance of the playoffs I’m inclined to think they didn’t do too badly.
The problem is that the sixth club is Sunderland, and that’s who they are all fighting with.
Deputy Editor Malcolm Dawson writes…..with so many games to fit in between Wembley and the end of the season Pete …
Phase One was accomplished midweek, when that single point was enough to move us beyond reach of Peterborough, the only team outside the top six with a chance (and the slimmest of chances at that) to pass us.
Phase two will be much more difficult as just about every team we play has something to go for and is running into form, as Coventry epitomised today.
Malcolm will be doing tomorrow’s match report, which I’m sure will be riveting reading. Until it arrives you’ll have to make do with Pete Sixsmith’s seven word post-game missive.
Monsieur Salut adds: social media is awash with angry, anguished messages about how wretched Sunderland’s defending was. You probably had to be there to appreciate just how bad, though Barnes and Benno gave a pretty good idea. Losing 5-4 in a Wembley penalty shootout is unfortunate; for a team chasing promotion to do so at home in a massively important game seems an insult to all but 2,600 or so of the 36,000 who turned up. Baldwin and Flanagan may wish to avoid reading Malcolm’s full appraisal..