Monsieur Salut writes: back in January, before one of those games against Charlton we probably should have won but didn’t, our Addicks ‘Who are You?’ interviewee, Richard Justham, told us: ‘I think you will win the league. You have a squad not just a team and would have more pulling power than the rest of us in the January window .. if you wanted to sign – let’s say – Tom Eaves from Gillingham to help you over the line I am sure you would have both the finances and prestige to do so. Partly for this reason I suspect you will brush away Barnsley, Luton and Portsmouth’.
Well, we know what happened instead. Here is Richard’s Charlton perspective on the playoff final, what went wrong for Sunderland and what will happen next …
Monsieur Salut writes: it wasn’t in truth so different from what many of us expected. If you’re not sufficiently older than 46 to have seen our last win at Wembley, as opposed to being a babe in someone’s arms, losing comes naturally.
This was awful. We didn’t even huff and puff very much. Gifted a goal, we retreated as if to defend for 85+ minutes what would have been the most bizarre winner in playoff history. And soon surrendered that marginal early dominance.
Did we proceed to create a chance, beyond the tame Grigg header? No. Did the supersub work? Yes, Charlton’s ex-Sunderland man Jonny Williams, who was instantly a threat; not the probably semi-fit Aiden McGeady, remembered mostly for dangerously losing possession. Did our neat little passing triangles by the touchline ever lead to anything better than a passback to McLaughlin? No. Did our centre backs distribute well or make defensive headers go anywhere near fellow-Sunderland players? You already know.
It could all go right as it did when we last lost to Charlton in a playoff final. Equally, it could be a turbulent summer in and around the club. We’ll see. Hats off to our marvellous support (long-suffering is now a given, an adjective that doesn’t need to be inserted each time) and apologies to my granddaughter, Maya, aged 10, for making this her first outing as a Sunderland supporter.
Pete Sixsmith tells the sorry tale …