John McCormick writes: Patrick’s impending departure leaves me quite unmoved. It’s just on a year since I saw him score the opener at Spurs, after which he disappeared as they swept past us. And that seems to epitomise his play since. What does move me is not only how will we replace him but how will David Moyes rebuild a squad that is depleted, underskilled and getting older by the minute? Pete Sixsmith may have some of the answers in his report on events at Hetton:
Malcolm Dawson writes: New Year’s Eve and the aftermath was spent down in the Midlands, with my mate the Leicester City fan who is convinced that he will be off to Cardiff to see the Foxes in the final of the Champions League, despite my reminding him that I have seen Leicester City play more often than he has over the past 30 years.
I travelled up the A1, kind of hoping that the accident which slowed my progress might delay me sufficiently to make the trip to the Stadium of Light impracticable. I had told the Liverpool fan I got talking to over breakfast at the Little Chef (excellent black pudding btw) that I was expecting a 3 or 4 nil hammering but I got through and made it to Sunderland just in time to park up and hear the team news on Radio Newcastle, before re-claiming my scarf from a certain Mr Sixsmith, who had taken it from my car after the Chelsea game, donning my thermals and making my way to my seat.
Well worth the effort and a typical experience for Sunderland fans everywhere. We can get beaten by poor sides then play well against the title challengers but, unlike when we played the Pensioners, we got a point from a decent performance. I’ll let Peter take up the story.
Monsieur Salut writes: what a transformation! Here was a performance unrecognisable from the dross seen at Turf Moor. Most of us would have taken a point before the game; against title contenders, we might easily have won had Anthony Taylor, who had curiously patchy curate’s egg of a game (ie good in parts), given us not two but three penalties, the disallowed one no less a stonewall spot kick than the two he awarded. A good game and Pete Sixsmith‘s instant seven-word verdict reveals a happier man than we heard from at Burnley …
HAPPY NEW YEAR
It is not often that a Who are You? interview is re-posted. On this occasion, 24 hours (23 actually) ahead of our home game against Liverpool, it seems a natural thing to do. Why? Well, it’s a good interview but that alone wouldn’t be enough. Nor would the fact that not all readers will have seen it first time around.
It is simple really. The juxtaposition of fixtures over the New Year period, two in three days, led us to publish the Liverpool WAY even before the Watford match had been played (albeit by only the home side since Sunderland didn’t turn up). Even without the latest injuries (Kone and Anichebe), this seemed a tough old game, the sort you go into after a fine away win against a side much lower down the table. That went wrong, of course, so we need heroics tomorrow. Watching Watford v Spurs gave an idea of the gulf between top and lower midtable, so we must expect the worst while hoping for the best when second top meets third bottom. You can still enter Guess the Score, by the way – just forget the Burnley part! …
Just a quick update ahead of our two games over the New Year period, away to Burnley tomorrow and at home to Liverpool 48 hours later.
It seemed sensible to bring together Guess the Score into one joint competition, though structured to allow for single entries too.
Do you remember Evertonian Hannah Myers*, who came second in our “Who are you?” annual awards (beaten only by former manager Denis Smith) a couple of seasons ago? Now it’s her brother’s turn to grace our website, but he happens to be of the red persuasion.
So you might detect a little sibling rivalry as Tom Easby gives us the lowdown to set the scene for our first game of 2017, the congestion of fixtures bringing this interview ahead of the Burnley game …
Liverpool’s ultimately easy 4-1 win against Stoke City confirms what we already knew – that Monday’s game against Jurgen Klopp’s side will be tough. Even if Simon Mignolet keeps his place and makes more errors than usual, they have bags of goals in them.
That makes Saturday’s game all the more important. The good work of the past eight games, producing 12 points and giving Sunderland a fighting chance of getting out of trouble, would be undermined if we came a cropper at Turf Moor unless we then rose to the occasion at the Stadium of Light two days later.
Is there a team in the land in which Jermain Defoe would not score goals? Probably not. Is our extraordinary little striker just not fashionable – or young – enough a footballer to appeal to the Peps, Joses and Antonios and the brands they manage? Maybe. We’re just lucky we have him. And Monsieur Salut’s daughter, Nathalie Randall, who has an irrational love of Liverpool, relegating Sunderland to second place in her affections, wishes he earned his living at Anfield …
I’ve always been a big fan of Jermain Defoe. My dad thinks its only because I fancy him but he’s too short for me..
Two good wins followed by a logical defeat at Anfield after we’d held out well for 75 minutes and even had two good chances to go ahead.
The positive way to look at our last three games is not to think in terms of two-steps-forward-one-back but to see each of them offering signs that we can break free of the bottom three.