World Cup: support England, Paraguay and the Global Football Monitor

Salut! Sunderland is resolutely club before country. But it will not avoid being caught up in the excitement of the World Cup in South Africa.

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Soapbox: come on England – I’m the man for the FA

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Seen enough manifestos to last a liftetime, or at least until Cameron is forced to call another election? Well, here’s another all the same. “Gizza job, I can do that,” says Pete Sixsmith, putting on Yosser Hughes’s best suit to be interviewed for the vacancies left by Lord Triesman’s tumble from grace …

Once again, the Football Association is plunged into turmoil as fearless hacks from the Mail On Sunday uncover Chairman Triesman as a xenophobic ranter, accusing Russia and Spain/Portugal as being in cahoots over the 2018 World Cup bid.

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Not good enough for England? A Bent judgement

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Bent for England. The cry was heard again after his latest goalscoring feats. But some observers feel Fabio Capello will not be swayed by his remarkable record in a team that – at least before our mini-run – had hardly kept him supplied with a consistent stream of quality service …

The Daily Star is not a newspaper to which Salut! Sunderland turns as a matter of everyday routine.

It may be a fountain of wisdom and truth, but we prefer other sources of information. But an item about Darren Bent’s suitability – or supposed unsuitability – for a place in England’s World Cup squad leapt from the laptop page.

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Sympathy for Aaron Ramsey

Salut! Sunderland joins all real football fans – including the Stoke City supporters who showed their own decency tonight – in wishing Aaron Ramsey the strongest, fullest and fastest recovery possible from the horrible injury he suffered in Arsenal’s victory at the Britannia stadium.

It was a really bad challenge by Ryan Shawcross, who was rightly shown a straight red card.

But I am not convinced there was a shred of malice in that challenge. There was clearly a lot of recklessness, however. Shawcross himself seemed to acknowledge this, pausing on his tearful way from the field to offer apologies to Ramsey.

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Club versus country (2): even the reserves come first

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Continuing his story of an unequal contest between passion for club and, when it comes to football, loyalty to country, Colin Randall describes the lengths he’s prepared to go to in order to keep up with Sunderland, and not just the first team. One bonus from caring little about internationals: the row over lack of TV coverage of Ukraine vs England has simply passed him by …

The upshot of the severe culture clash between football-mad or, more accurately, SAFC-mad husband and football-loathing partner is that throughout my marriage I have had to organise games around family duties and wifely expectations as well as work.

She’d tell you I have been to endless matches; I’d tell you about all those I’ve missed.

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Club versus country (1): a smoking gun

England play Ukraine on Saturday, depriving us of a Premier match to worry about or, in our mood of new-found optimism, one to look forward to with relish.

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Darren Bent did not make the squad. But is Colin Randall alone in saying he couldn’t care less about internationals and that Bent’s inclusion would not have increased his appetite to any great extent? He is not. Some Salut! Sunderland readers are familiar with this expansion of his reasons for placing passion for Sunderland miles ahead of anything felt about the national side. But for our many new readers, here is the first part of a chapter written for A Love Supreme’s book More 24 Hour SAFC People (our share of the proceeds were donated to charity) . If anyone feels like getting stuck into a debate, we’ll come up with a prize for the best entry …

Looking back, it was as golden an opportunity as Daniel Dichio’s sitter in the Wembley playoff final against Charlton, or indeed the chance of his at Upton Park that would, if converted, have put us top of the Premiership. And I missed mine just as glaringly as Danny had missed his.

In one of the love letters that passed between us long ago, Joelle, then my wife-to-be, wrote that she could think of only one fault in me that she would change. I smoked too much. She might have added others: permanently broke, holes in my socks and underpants, coming from Shildon, being lousy at her native language, French. She has certainly added plenty since and while the French has improved, there isn’t much I can do about coming from Shildon. But back then, it was the fags that concerned her. If only I would cut down, she wrote to me from Le Mans, her home town, she would in return do anything I asked of her.

Talk about open goals. There it was, my cue to secure a lifetime of pass-outs to watch Sunderland !

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