Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City. Guess the final two, help Bradley Lowery

Jake: ‘sometimes we just like to other people’s business’

Look at the four FA Cup semi-finalists.

Is there another team in the land Sunderland supporters could care less about?

Read moreChelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City. Guess the final two, help Bradley Lowery

Sixer’s Manchester City Soapbox: our time looks up, but never say die

Jake: ‘no shortage of effort, but …’

The exchanges between Pete Sixsmith, up in the East Stand, and Monsieur Salut, watching and listening in his French bunker (thanks Nick Barnes for the kind mention), were not encouraging. At half time, Sixer bemoaned being both the better side and behind. Long before the final whistle, after the killer second goal, he’d given up the ghost and did not update a seven-word instant verdict sent as City fans celebrated Sane’s cool finish. Where do we go from here? Sixer and I both fear the word is ‘down’. Pete does at least offer a smidgeon of hope with his very last words …

Oh for the days of last minute goals by Ji Dong-won and Darren Bent and little scufflers from Phil Bardsley.

Read moreSixer’s Manchester City Soapbox: our time looks up, but never say die

Sixer’s Sevens: SAFC 0-2 Manchester City. Enough fight, no finish or finesse

Jake: ‘no lack of effort and only two nowt. I almost class that as a moral victory’

Monsieur Salut writes: we knew in our hearts how it would go. If only Fabio Borini’s header had been on target after Defoe hit the post and presented him with an open goal, if only David Silva’s passing wasn’t so precise, City weren’t so devastating on the break. If only. Positives: we put up a fight and, as Pete Sixsmith noted at half time, may well have been the better side until we went behind. In the end, though, we simply weren’t good enough. Sixer will be back to expand on the seven-word verdict you see below …

Read moreSixer’s Sevens: SAFC 0-2 Manchester City. Enough fight, no finish or finesse

SAFC vs Manchester City: catch up on the buildup and guess the score

Jake: ‘ha’;way lads, prove to Citeh we’re not 5-goal rollovers like Monaco, Huddersfield and West Ham. Back to 1-0 to us?’

Jake’s caption sums up the prevailing thought. Why cannot we go back to the time we regarded a visit from Man City as a 1-0 home banker?

I have been downbeat at ESPN about our chances, both for Sunday afternoon’s game and in the relegation battle.

Read moreSAFC vs Manchester City: catch up on the buildup and guess the score

Manchester City ‘Who are You?’: Roker Park veteran says our time’s up

Craig McGinty: fond memories of Benno and Marco

Where would Sunderland fit into a spoof list of films that have won or been nominated for Oscars?

Some fun has been had on this very subject by the people at enhancedbets.com: Leicester’s Gone With the Wins (sadly for us, a sequence than came to a halt earlier this week) and poor Bob Bradley remembered as An American in Swansea.

*******************Enhanced Bets Premier League Oscar Nominations - Ya Ya Land*******************

David Moyes’s Lads might qualify for their own version of this year’s best-film winner  – La La Land, sorry Moonlighting – since they must have been up to something away from work to explain their wretched under-achievement in the day jobs. And then we see that Suicide Squad won best make-up and hair styling (you honestly couldn’t make up some of our play, or Ndong’s hair for that matter).

Which leads us to Craig McGinty*, a Sunderland-educated Manchester City fan without whose expertise on websites Salut! Sunderland would never have been created. Back in 2008, Craig was the fist City supporter to grace our Who are You? series. It seemed about time to ask him back …

Read moreManchester City ‘Who are You?’: Roker Park veteran says our time’s up

Wrinkly Pete’s crystal ball: we’re bang on course, no need for panic

Peter Lynn, aka Wrinkly Pete

John McCormick writes: Colin has made it known that he felt a sinking feeling on Saturday.  And as such a feeling requires an SOS it’s appropriate that Wrinkly Pete’s update dropped into the Salut mailbox yesterday.

So here’s Pete, with a message that all is not yet lost

Read moreWrinkly Pete’s crystal ball: we’re bang on course, no need for panic

SAFC v Manchester City prize Guess the Score: winning helps Bradley Lowery’s fight

*****     Please just read on …      *****

The only thought that came to mind after the defeat at Everton was “that sinking feeling”. And so the phrase appeared in my headline for Sixer’s Sevens, Pete Sixsmith’s traditional seven-word verdict.

Despite – maybe because of – having supported Sunderland since the days of Charlie Hurley and Brian Clough, I cannot now approach any game without the same pessimism.

Read moreSAFC v Manchester City prize Guess the Score: winning helps Bradley Lowery’s fight

Return of Poznangate: ‘small-time’ pettiness (Manchester United view) or harmless banter?

***                       Click to enlarge                          ***

It’s a familiar question in the ‘Who are You?’ series: what do you think, we ask opposing fans, of Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city and region, David Moyes?

This is how Dale O’Donnell, our Manchester United interviewee (he’s editor of the the Stretty News fan site), replied:

‘Yeah, I thought we looked after you a bit when Steve Bruce was in charge with the likes of Brown and O’Shea. Then your fans took the p*** a bit and Poznan’d at our expense. That has to be one of the worst small-time things I have seen as a football fan, and I highly doubt it will happen this season if Sunderland face the inevitable.’

After reading Dale’s replies, which I generally found thoughtful and knowledgeable, I asked him: ‘… was it more petty to do it, or more petty to take it seriously?’ He generously allowed for ‘a bit of both maybe’

See the full interview here: Dale O’Donnell in the Who are You? hotseat

But what better, I thought, with no football until Boxing Day, than to offer you once again Stephen Goldsmith‘s thoughts on the subject. Stephen, you may recall, once graced these pages, which he also used with Gareth Barker to promote and develop the Wise Men Say podcast until they Poznaned off to the brighter lights of ALS. He’s fondly remembered all the same and this is probably the third time his piece, slightly modified, on the subject has had an airing (so apologies if it feels a little familiar and pardon the outdated references to Sir Alex – the thrust of the article remains valid) …

Dale with Gary Neville

Read moreReturn of Poznangate: ‘small-time’ pettiness (Manchester United view) or harmless banter?

The things we do for love: you tell Salut! Sunderland

Ask Jeremy 'Clock Stand Paddock' Robson where Sunderland play and he'll say 'Roker Park'
Ask Jeremy ‘Clock Stand Paddock’ Robson where Sunderland play and he’ll say ‘Roker Park’

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Sixer’s Soapbox: City relieved as Sunderland almost snatch a point

Malcolm Dawson writes….I switched on MOTD last night, not to see Gary Lineker in his underpants, but to play spot the celebrity in the crowd. And there he was – not Liam Gallagher, not Sam Allardyce, not comedian Jason Manford but our own Pete Sixsmith clear as day in amongst the Sunderland fans in the pre-match shots of the away end. And because he was there he brings yet another first hand account of the day’s proceedings in the land of barm cakes and Betty’s hot pot. Now I’m off to dig out my autograph book before the two of us head off to Hetton to watch a depleted U23 side (depleted because it seems half the side have been put on 1st team stand-by) take on Chelsea.

MANCHESTER CITY (a) 13/10/16.

MANCITYsoapboxAs far as opening day defeats go, that wasn’t a bad one. It was far better than the debacle at Leicester last season and light years away from the 5-0 thumping we took at the Baseball Ground in 1993. But it was still a defeat and it means that we haven’t won an opening day game since Darren Bent scored at Bolton Wanderers back in the days when Gordon Brown was still Prime Minister and the thought of a Match of the Day presenter hosting the show in his pants was, well, unthinkable.

The team selection was interesting, not least the inclusion of the greatest potential traitor since Lord Haw Haw, Lamine Koné. The runes were read to see what it meant. Was it reconciliation between him and the club? Had Ronald Koeman dashed over from Merseyside to have a proper look at him, the way that a potential buyer takes a car or a horse out, before coughing up £20m? Whatever it was, there were sharp intakes of breath as I conversed with fellow Sunderland supporters as we followed the tram tracks to Eastlands.

Jake's take of a man still in the manager's plans?
Jake’s take of a man still in the manager’s plans?

Donald Love made his debut at right back and Lynden Gooch came in to the midfield. The first one was predictable in that he is a right back and we didn’t have another fit one, the second was an interesting call. Gooch is a player that I have admired and enjoyed from the grassy bank at Eppleton – it’s a huge step up from there to the forced atmosphere of Manchester’s second biggest stadium. The set up saw John O’Shea playing in front of the back four a la Kirchhoff, with Borini sitting in front of the midfield three to try to get up and support Defoe. The planning had been done and Moyes comes across as a man who thinks carefully and plans meticulously. The press conference on Friday when he dealt with the Konégate affair showed that.

However, as the poet Burns said, “The best laid plans of mice and men oft gang awry.” Scotland’s finest may well have been writing about the effect of the harvest on the life of a wee field mouse – we are looking at it from the point of view of Patrick van Aanholt.

After a bright start, where we forced a save and a tip over the bar from Willy Caballero (he always sounds like a failed Flamenco singer), Raheem Sterling ran at our left back and skipped past him into the box. The PVA of the closing stages of last season may well have passed him on to another defender. Unfortunately, he tried to tackle him and gave away a penalty that was so cast iron that a whole lorry load of Agas could have been made from it. Up stepped Aguero to tuck it past Mannone. Up went the flags and the barrage balloons. The music played and the stadium announcer shouted out the name of the scorer. The crowd cheered, although not very loudly, and sat back to watch City demolish Sunderland.

For twenty minutes, they almost did. Sterling played well and Villa (a lovely footballer) made Love work hard to stay in the game. Watmore covered the young Scotsman, a man with the kind of name that Burns could have written a poem or song about, and we rarely got out of our own half. But they didn’t create much. They were slick and moved the ball well. Aguero’s touch is still a delight and the new man Nolito looked useful. Clichy did well in midfield, but we hauled ourselves back into the game due to diligent defending by Kaboul and Kone and some lung bursting work in midfield by Borini. Oh for a Cattermole or a Kirchhoff or an M’Vila to help us seize control.

A surprising omission from the starting XI?
A surprising omission from the starting XI?

We hung in until half time and, having dampened the crowds’ expectation, came out with more of the same in the second half. Off went Gooch and Watmore and on came Khazri and Januzaj, both far more experienced and far more technically accomplished. At first, it looked as if the balance had been disturbed, but both got into the game and Januzaj in particular changed it. He moved across the box, played a good ball to Rodwell, who in turn played a wonderful ball to Defoe. The man who should have been in France in the summer, got in front of the defender and slipped in a splendid equaliser, leading to celebrations on and off the pitch. When the hubbub died down the thought on everyone’s mind was: “Can we hold out for the last 20 minutes?”

Er, no. We tried. The defending was committed and the work rate was tremendous, but the introduction of Navas made the difference.

City now had two wide men and it was Navas who was causing more problems for van Aanholt. With three minutes left, his low cross was turned into the net by the unfortunate Paddy McNair (surely the name of a man from a poem by Seamus Heaney) and we were done for, despite Mannone attempting to do a Mart Poom at the end.

The sheer relief from Guardiola and the City crowd was testimony to a job almost but not quite well done and he was gracious in victory in his post-match summary – far more gracious than his counterpart across the city would have been. A pal of mine, a City supporter since the days of Les McDowell, Harry Dowd and George Heslop, agreed with my observation that we had scored the only “proper” goal and that we would not struggle this season.

The game cost BT £11m to televise all over the world. Viewers in Kazakhstan or Bolivia would have never heard of Lynden Gooch [surely the name of a character in a Richard Ford novel – and certainly not the son of Graham, as Monsieur Salut was misled by online references into having him in his ESPN report, albeit briefly until the player himself graciously corrected it] and Donald Love. But they may have been impressed by the obduracy of a Sunderland side that worked hard, showed some flashes of brilliance and who looked comfortable under the tutelage of their new manager. The expectations facing Moyes are nowhere near as great as those facing Guardiola. He would not be satisfied with finishing 10th and having a cup run – and nor would the Emirati owners.

The day was an enjoyable one. I declined the attractions of Bury and took the 135 into Manchester. The trip lasted 50 minutes, cost nothing and took me through Cheetham Hill, spiritual home of the novelist Howard Jacobson. The upper reaches of the hill are populated by Manchester’s Jewish population, many of them Orthodox or Hassidic. As the bus descends, it enters a polyglot community made up of all races, colours and creeds with their distinctive foods, places of worship and styles of dress.

Coming from a town where someone from West Auckland is regarded as a foreigner, these cosmopolitan areas make me realise that this country should be proud of the welcome it has given in the past to those from other countries. It has affected our football. On Saturday we had two Italians, an American, a Tunisian, a Cote d’Ivorian, a Frenchman, a Dutchman, a Belgian, two Irishmen, a Scot and three Englishmen on the field at one time or another. I remember when Dariusz Kubicki was regarded as an esoteric signing. We have come a long way since then.

Ha’way The Lads.