Monsieur Salut writes: roll up, roll up to place your predicted scoreline for the opening game of our return to the third tier – or to claim old prizes I somehow overlooked (one Evertonian, Bernard Walker, is in that category and will receive his I-won’t-let-this-change-me award, a mug, for correctly forecasting the dismal result of last season’s League Cup game, as soon a possible.
First of all, let Salut! Sunderland add its tribute to the supporters who have put up with this season’s woeful absence of quality, commitment and results and attended games week after week.
Almost as a further act of torture, the mathematical possibility of survival cannot vanish altogether if SAFC beat Burton Albion in what otherwise looks little more than a case of who avoids bottom place.
And if two out of three – Bolton (home to Wolves), Barnsley (away to Leeds) and Birmingham (home to Sheff Utd) – were to lose this weekend, a win for us would keep a weak flame flickering. It’s more complicated than that, with three possible relegation sides battling for points and Barnsley also having their game in hand at Forest on Tuesday, but that about sums it up.
It’s also the stuff of flying pigs. Bolton and Birmingham only need to draw and SAFC to lose for us to be down whatever happens to Barnsley.
Seven games to go and after that resounding win at Derby on a very Good Friday, Sheffield Wednesday are the Easter Monday visitors to the Stadium of Light.
For once, it looks as if we may have to do without a Who are You? interview. Monsieur Salut did find a willing candidate. There’s a good reason why she may have overlooked it, or simply not found the time she expected to have: her dad, a lifelong Owls fan, died recently.
In the depths of our despair, it seems beyond belief that interest in one small corner of Sunderland AFC’s world should suddenly perk up.
But in the wake of Tuesday night’s surrender to Aston Villa, Salut! Sunderland’s Facebook group gained three new members. Not spammers, hookers or chancers – we get applictaions from them, too – but from self-evidently genuine Sunderland supporters. We’re now nudging 750 and none, as far as we know, are hookers.
Maybe Chris Coleman should print this out, fold it with something harder curled inside and rap it over the heads of our players and, if he happens to be passing in the corridor, Martin Bain.
Without needing to try too hard, we can place Sunderland vs Middlesbrough and a handful of other games between now and Saturday firmly in the context of Championship ups and downs.
If Boro had three more points than their current total of 51, they would be in the top six. The playoffs would once again seem attainable. And they would stay there provided neither Bristol City tonight (home to fifth-top Fulham) and Sheffield Utd on Friday (at Hull City) could do more than draw.
Now where would those three Boro points be most likely to come from? Surely we are not thinking of Fortress Stadium of Light where proud, committed men of the calibre of Jack Rodwell ply their trade.
Oh dear, muses Monsieur Salut. The piece below was prepared before the Cardiff debacle. Will anyone be left to predict a Sunderland win? Will my absence on hols in Cuba coincide with the first entry-free Guess the Score (save for the Hull fan’s automatic one)? Or will blind faith triumph yet again? …
The first entry in this week’s edition of Guess the Score is, as a consequence of the rule introduced this season, taken. Kathryn Townsley is our Hull City interviewee for Who are You? and reckons her lot will win 2-1.
She also thinks, as you shall read tomorrow, that we may well go down but that Hull will not. That is the basis on which she feels confident that this is not going to the second of three fixtures between the same sides played in different divisions in successive seasons.
Everyone knows we can do it. Sadly, everyone also knows what seems to happen each time we say as much.
So straight over to the Salut! Sunderland jury. Does the fight to scramble away from the bottom of the Championship start with a good result at Cardiff or is our plight about to get even worse?
Now that the players have presumably recovered from having supped far too many soft drinks on New Year’s Eve to be able to compete with Barnsley next day, there is that annual (for us) dilemma: do we really want to add an FA Cup run to a challenging fixtures list?
Monsieur Salut’s heart says yes, the head isn’t so sure.
Tuesday night’s result from Reading has, after all that ludicrous hope inspired by Sunderland’s win at Forest, dumped us at the bottom of the table.
Instead of being 19th, the prize had we beaten Barnsley, we look more likely to have to make do for another season without one of our favourite Who Are You? interviewees, Bernard Ramsdale, whose beloved Wigan will replace us in the Championship unless matters improve.
Let’s not waste too many words. Chris Coleman said his players allowed themselves to be intimidated by Sheffield United. Maybe; we were second best all over the pitch and the game was already beyond us when Asoro and Maja came on.
It’s Christmas and Little Drummer Boy is one of those songs you cannot always escape from.
But into the stocking of a Salut! Sunderland stalwart who signs his comments here as Drummer will go a t-shirt depicting two heroic figures of Sunderland’s not-so-distant past, Niall Quinn and SuperKev.
The only other clue I shall give is that he wants it in large. It is for Drummer to reveal his true identity if he wishes.
And now on to even more serious matters. Sunderland vs Birmingham City and your chance to get the Niall/SKP print on your wall or the t-shirt on your chest.