We have been this way before. Early activity in a transfer window seems positive and our hopes rise accordingly, only to be dashed by a combination of factors: the questionable SAFC managerial merry-go-round, an imbalance of expectation and delivery and the air of thick gloom hanging over the club.
But Chris Coleman’s first move really does look like a sound one. Jake Clarke-Salter, a ball-playing central defender brought on loan from Chelsea, “is supposed to be rather good”, says a Chelsea-supporting friend.
They do not come much easier than Leo Bonatini’s first goal of the season, a mighty Sunderland-style defensive blunder by the Boro defender Daniel Ayala setting up his chance, well as he then took it.
But the Wolves striker has been on fire since, his total of nine including five goals in October and that is what made him the PFA Bristol Street Motors Championship player of the month as voted by fans.
Sunderland’s Lewis Grabban was one of five other nominees but came last in the shortlist with just three per cent of the votes cast. In fact, Bonatini polled more than all five rivals combined.
But hang on a second. Bonatini plays for the club currently topping the table and we all know which position Sunderland occupy. If we think about it for, say, half a second, we can probably hazard a guess as to which of them enjoys the more creative, thoughtful and effective service. So Grabban’s eight goals can be seen as an achievement no less than creditable than Bonatini’s nine – and he, too, scored five of them in October.
It feels almost surreal. But when you check that sliding green link you see at the foot of each page of Salut! Sunderland, the PFA player-of-the-month awards really do have a Sunderland player among the nominees.
Maybe it is a step too far to contemplate an award for someone playing for a crisis club rooted at the foot of the Championship table.
John McCormick writes: Pete Sixsmith has finally made it home from seat U2 in the Carrow Road football stadium (hence the reference in the introduction to Saturday’s Sevens). He probably has just enough time to grab some rest before he heads off to Sheffield. But before he gets his head down here he is with the heads up on a game more than a few of us expected to be difficult.
As ever, it’s a fine piece of writing. The bonus is that this time it’s about an excellent Sunderland performance:
Pete Sixsmith took his time in getting to Norwich, so we can look forward to an account of his ground-hopping as well as a match report from U2 at Carrow Road, where the seats have no name. (and perhaps Pete will include an explanation of what this means with his report**).
For now, though, we’ll have to make do with the instant, seven word verdict that he sends to M Salut immediately after the final whistle, and doesn’t it make a nice change from what he was sending last season? …
Towards the end of the 2015-2016 season, Sunderland went to Norwich and won 3-0 as part of the Big Sam race for survival. We stayed up, they went down. Before the game, we were able to introduce readers to one of the best Who are You? interviewees of the season, Gary Gowers*. So good were his replies that he took second place in the HAWAY awards – he never received his prize, but we are trying to rectify this now.
As Sunderland’s second Championship game takes us back to Carrow Road, it seemed an ideal opportunity to catch up again with Gary, the editor of http://norwichcity.myfootballwriter.com. Sit back for another terrific read in which he lays into the arrogance of City’s squad last season and expresses no surprise at our own predicament. He’d quite like Catts in Norwich colours but is distinctly cool on James Vaughan and Lewis Grabban. All the same, he predicts a top six place for Sunderland (and for his own side) …
Salut! Reflections has developed into a corner of Salut! Sunderland for outsiders, not usually supporters of SAFC. The contributions range from blandly stating the obvious to offering interesting or pertinent points about the progress or lack of it of our club. Even after heavy editing, those in the former category struggle to shine.
This is at the higher end, more imaginatively written, up to date and opinionated. Since we are assured the author, William Sundin, is a media production graduate from Sunderland University, there may be a good reason for that. What we certainly hope to be true is that his failure to see the qualities of Lewis Grabban reflects his shortcomings, not the player’s …