Luke’s world: banish Benfica blues – see our fantasy England team

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AND come back later today for our Eric Roy interview

Here would be as good a place as any for people to post their thoughts on Benfica 2 Sunderland 0. The official club site’s stuttering text coverage had us playing some good stuff at times, though we were often second best. Consolation for two Sunderland players (one of whom played last night): they’re both in the make-believe England team Luke Harvey selects in case Capello banned his entire World Cup squad from the next game, as Laurent Blanc has done in France …

When Laurent Blanc announced that the 23 French players who travelled to South Africa would be banned for the next match, the English media made sure we knew just who the new manager could call upon to face Norway.

Real Madrid players Lassana Diarra and Karim Benzema, alongside Arsenal’s Samir Nasri will be likely call-ups for the match, having been omitted from the World Cup squad.

Read moreLuke’s world: banish Benfica blues – see our fantasy England team

The report card: (5) Pete Sixsmith measures the progress

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The team has been ordered to Mr Sixsmith’s study. They fear the worst after that dire mid-season run, the unfulfilled promise, the indiscipline and the damp squib of a season’s ending. But no, Sir is in a good mood. He sees really encouraging signs. Here, in our final review of the season, those signs are assessed by a man who has provided exemplary analysis of Sunderland AFC week after week …

We would all agree, I think, that the season just gone has been an improvement on the last two. I think that we would all agree the dip in mid season was worrying. I think we would all agree that the disciplinary record has been poor and needs to improve.

So, let’s try to put a different slant on 2009-10. Let’s look at where we were four years ago and let’s look at where we are now in the overall context of the Premier League.

Read moreThe report card: (5) Pete Sixsmith measures the progress

Recognition for Sunderland’s Spurs reject (and Hull hero)

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Real fans, real opinions. Sounds a bit like us, but it’s footballfancast.com, which lists 10 success stories from the Premier season so far – “men who’ve done a lot better than anticipated and have an enhanced reputation as a result”. We’re happy to pass the news on with due credit to the site in question …

Guess which club has two players in the list. And guess which position in this unofficial mini-league is awarded to one of those players. Think “striker not as good as my missus, says cuddly ‘Arry” and “defender whose departure broke Hull hearts”.

Read moreRecognition for Sunderland’s Spurs reject (and Hull hero)