Sunderland season reviews (1): the rocky road to survival

John McCormick:
John McCormick
looking forward to next season

It’s time again for Salut! Sunderland writers, regular or occasional, to look back on a season that carried the now customary threat of relegation before bursting into life with another of our extraordinary late escapes. The reviews will appear pretty much in the order they are received – feel free to have a go if there’s something pressing on your mind – and end with the thoughts of our indefatigable chronicler Pete Sixsmith. Accordingly, we start with associate editor John McCormick

Read moreSunderland season reviews (1): the rocky road to survival

Glad all over? At least we’re don’t support these Premier clubs

Peter Lynn: a musical and now marital theme for every moment
Peter Lynn: now, who else can I offend?

Peter Lynn, aka Wrinkly Pete, takes a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the Premier clubs he’s relieved not to support. He’ll clearly expect to make no new friends in the relevant places …

Well things were briefly a lot brighter following back to back wins inside a week but, as the weekend’s results at Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle showed, it is anyone’s guess how we will feel at the end of December.

With that in mind, I thought I would plan ahead – just in case – and respond to those Sunderland fans, myself included, who, when things are bleak, look enviously at other clubs, ie those who, Villa apart, are above us in the league.

I shall therefore offer a quick guide to why it’s better to be a Mackem than, well, not a Mackem.

In no particular order, here is my parade of supporters I’m glad not to be…

* A Mag: This is an easy one to start despite their win against a shocking Liverpool side. We may have raised a few eyebrows with, for example, some of our managerial appointments but can you even begin to imagine what it must be like to be a passionate Newcastle supporter and see the farcical way in which the club is run? It is a good reminder that having a mega rich owner is not necessarily without its problems.

* Blue: – in this case Chelsea. Another easy one (for me). I could never tolerate the arrogance that Mourinho exudes and would like to think that their present dip is in some way connected with his appalling treatment of their (now former) club doctor Eva Carneiro. Furthermore, how could you live with that irritating “Chelsea, Chelsea” song? Interesting that the original “Amazing Grace” song contains the words “a wretch like me”. That’s how I would feel – wretched.

* Baggie:
This one is a bit harder since, living in the Midlands, I think this club is the pick of the local bunch. However, the atmosphere in the Hawthorns is very subdued unless or until their team score and I personally find the use of the hymn The Lord’s my Shepherd as a club song a bit out of place.

* Toffee: Well, it’s a club that many Sunderland fans feel empathy with and, of course, in recent times they have seemed comfortable, playing wise; but Goodison is pretty grim, even allowing for the nostalgia associated with a “traditional” ground. Furthermore, their current location is land locked, preventing expansion. Compare that to our superb facility.

* Gunner: With us “it’s the hope I can’t stand”. With them “it’s the expectation I can’t stand”. There seems to be a belief that if you have paid £1,200 or more for your season ticket you have a right to success and to be richly entertained. Perhaps that explains the flat atmosphere other than when they score. Then, to cap it all, those “fans” bemoan their lack of success despite their successes being plastered round the stadium.

* Potter: Now I would like to feel charitable as we have just beaten them and they have a pleasing habit of letting us win when we are at our most needful. However, as long as they continue to employ whingeing managers like Hughes and Pulis who attend the very same games as me and yet miss every niggly, dirty foul perpetrated by their players despite having instructed them to do just that, I will simply wish them all the luck they deserve.

* Hammer: I had better be careful what I say here so I will make no reference to their hierarchy. Better to focus on their move away from the East End. Now when we moved our ground, despite all the emotional upheaval, we stayed local. I cannot imagine that the fans will be happy with their relocation, despite it seeming, shall we say, very reasonably priced.

* Villan: Well here we are with another example of huge wealth not necessarily bringing joy. We may question some of our player acquisitions and regret some player losses, especially when one of them goes to Villa, citing a desire to play for a “big” club (where is he now?). How would you feel though if you were a Villa fan and saw the team when O o o o o Neill was there and compared it to now?

So, I, along with every other Sunderland fan, will desperately try to find a solution to help when things are not going well on the pitch but I, for one, do recognise that Sunderland has in place the truly important things such as home, sense of community and a superb fan base (with decent songs).

PS Readers are free to add to my list. We wouldn’t want Manchester Utd/City, Liverpool, Palace, Saints supporters feeling left out …

It’s FootbalI Not Soccer: Sunderland, Newcastle, Norwich, Stoke and Southampton previewed

Pete Sixsmith: 'where did those 51 years go?'
Pete Sixsmith: ‘where did those 51 years go?’

It is fair to say
Pete Sixsmith does not care greatly who wins the Premier League title, at least not while we seem not quite up to the challenge ourselves.

So do not be surprised that he gives a different answer to the question depending on when he is asked.

Read moreIt’s FootbalI Not Soccer: Sunderland, Newcastle, Norwich, Stoke and Southampton previewed

Congratulations Chelsea. But eyes down for the drama (Burnley, QPR, us, Leicester, Hull, Newcastle,Villa)

Seb: flashback to our own Stamford Bridge glory
Seb: flashback to our own Stamford Bridge glory

Let’s see if the Sunderland ‘will we survive?’ poll can perk up a little more from our viewpoint. The Yes and Maybe votes, though still lagging well behind, are higher than at any time since poll was launched but always bear there have been many No camp followers among fans of other drop zone clubs) …

[polldaddy poll=8818549]

And now for a quick expansion of the poll to find out who Salut! Sunderland readers (who, don’t forget, may well again include supporters of the other six clubs) think will go down.

Read moreCongratulations Chelsea. But eyes down for the drama (Burnley, QPR, us, Leicester, Hull, Newcastle,Villa)

Predictions League: Southampton, Sunderland, Newcastle, Q.P.R, West Ham, Everton – How will they fare?

Our panel give serious thought to this weekend's fixtures

I realise our massive fan base will be more than anxious to check out the latest Salut! Predictions League table, but they’ll have to wait.

Lack of time and a steward’s enquiry into the accuracy of the league table, means I will get to it during the not so festive period. Right in between the darts and one of my many siestas.

As I generally don’t know my arse from my elbow during the Xmas fortnight, trying to figure out which day it is becomes practically impossible. I’m an advocate for the Xmas break in the Premier League – so we’re certainly having one here.

So, I’ll take this opportunity to wish everybody a merry chr… hahaha – I’m afraid I can’t bring myself to. Here’s the predictions yaaaa’ll.

Southampton v Sunderland

Jake: Saints 0 Sunderland 1. I don’t really believe this.

Malcolm: My head says we won’t get anything from this one and will lose 2-0. My heart expects us to get something and a 2-0 win. So I’m going with my epiglottis and well settle for a 2-2 draw.

Sixer: A game neither side can afford to lose. They have tightened up their defence while ours is as stable as a Christmas jelly. Wickham to get at least one. 2-2.

The rest: Goldy 1-2. Bill  0-1.  Colin 0-2. Robert  1-2.  Jeremy 1-2. John Mac 1-2.

Newcastle v Q.P.R

Colin: I’m afraid I really want the Mags to win this and keep ‘Arry deep in trouble. Newcastle are also relegation rivals so there is merit is them losing, too, but not quite as much as things stand. I also regard them as a better team than Rangers. 3-1

Bill: Newcastle 2 QPR 0  If the Barcodes can’t beat QPR at home, then maybe it’s Alan “Christmas is cancelled” Pardew who should be looking for another job. It’s by no means a cut-and-dried result, though.

Goldy: Neee snidey copying tactics from me this week, I promise. Let’s get this right, I’m not particularly enjoying Newcastle’s slump – not while we’re in danger ourselves. It won’t always end like it did in 08/09 and that’s frightening. There’s jitters eleven miles up the road, however, and a rejuvenated Q.P.R to nick a point here. 1-1.

The rest: Jake 1-1. Malcolm 1-1. Sixer 1-2. Robert  2-1. Jeremy  1-2. John Mac 1-1.

West Ham v Everton

Robert:Without Fellaini Everton will struggle to dominate teams like they have so often this season. I expect a dull 1-1 draw in this one.

John Mac: EFC haven’t had it all their own recently but Sam’s had a couple of injuries and tends to fight hard at home. So 1-1 with neither team firing on all cylinders.

Jeremy: It doesn’t matter whether or not you approve or admire Big Sam’s approach to management. The man tends to get good results wherever he goes. West Ham are galvanised under Sam’s leadership and have surprised those who expected a relegation battle for the Hammers. This should be a really tight game so I’m going for West Ham 1 Everton 1.

The rest: Jake 1-2. Malcolm 2-0. Sixer 1-1. Colin 1-2. Bill 1-3. Goldy 2-1.

See also: Monsieur Salut talks all things Sunderland at ESPN FC:

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Predictions: Sunderland, Man Utd/ City, Newcastle, Stoke, Everton – How will they fare?

A very productive week for all concerned in the Salut! Predictions League, a fact which must frustrate Bill and Robert no ends as in other weeks they could, and would, have moved up the table swiftly – so crap are our usual collective predictions. This week, however, no fewer than five of us gained 4 (four) points. We have our friends Newcastle largely to thank for that one

Jake ponders Poznangate.


Malcolm and Sixer are doing their best to allow the rest to catch up by picking up solitary points, while John Mac and Colin slide down the table despite gaining a point. The first week everybody has scored at least a point, in fact.

We really are rubbish at this.

Stoke v Everton is an interesting one this week – so I’m going with that alongside the North East’s big two fixtures against Manchester’s big two. Well, against Salford’s big one and Manchester’s big one, perhaps. You know what I mean. Easy three points for the lads, I suspect – this despite Wayne Rooney bouncing about in his stripey pyjamas tonight like a kid at Christmas. He’s foaming at the mouth and all excited for revenge, strangely. I must misunderstand the concept of revenge. All sorts of threats coming our way from the Old Trafford faithful (and not so faithful) due to the youthful element in one corner of our ground mocking them with the Poznan at the summit of last season. They seem mad…..

OH NO……….

maybe they’ll beat us………


Here’s the predictions:

Man Utd v Sunderland

Robert: Wayne Rooney is convinced Sunderland need to be taught a lesson after some fans celebrated City winning the title after United defeated us on the last day of last season. My hope, that Rooney gets all wound up, kicks someone, and gets sent off. Unfortunately I don’t see that happening, and United will stroll to a 2-0 win.

Jeremy: It’s difficult to envisage anything for our fans to “Poznan” over in this one. Man Utd to probably run us ragged and stick a few past the increasingly brilliant Simon Mignolet. Man Utd 3 Sunderland 0

Colin: Can’t see anything better, much as I naturally Iong to be proved utterly wrong. Pete Sixmsith summed it up by asking whether the win against Reading was papering over the cracks. Well, there are still cracks. If this is unwarranted pessimism, over to MoN and the Lads to make me eat my words. 4-1.

The rest: John Mac 5-6. Bill 2-2. Sixer 1-2. Goldy 1-0. Jake 3-0. Malcolm 3-0.

Newcastle v Man City

John Mac: Man City look to have too much against a lacklustre team whose manager has peaked (only 7 years 8 months of him to go, boys!) 0-2.

Jake: Hopefully the Skunks slump will continue. I really can’t see anything other than a City win.

Goldy: Now then. I’m gonna be honest here, I obviously fancy a City win but I’m going tactical with my prediction. I was umming and aghhing regarding the score – but my mind has now been made up by the other predictions. I’d kick myself if they all come in and mine didn’t. Observe the first four predictions proceeding mine and you’ll see what I mean. 1-3.

The rest: Robert 1-3. Jeremy 1-3. Bill 1-3. Colin 1-3. Sixer 0-2. Malcolm 1-2.

Stoke v Everton

Bill: With only three points separating Potters and Toffees, this might look like an obvious draw. Stoke are the great stonewallers – unbeaten at home since the Cats’ victory last February and with only two goals against them at the Britannia ground this season. But that can’t last and I think Everton just might have the edge. 0-1.

Sixer: No rugby score here. Both sides thrive in adversity, unlike some I could name. 0-1.

Malcolm: I always feel that Everton should be better than teams like Stoke, with more flair and technical ability at their disposal but as we know the Potters never make it easy for visiting teams. A one all draw is my feeling. 1-1.

The rest: Robert 1-1. Jeremy 1-1. Jon Mac 2-1. Colin 0-1. Goldy 1-1. Jake 0-1.

Something’s gotta give if 0-1 or 1-1 comes in at The Brittania then.

Here’s the table:

Correct Results Correct Scores Points
Malcolm Dawson 20 5 30
Sixer 17 5 27
Jeremy Robson 17 4 25
Jake 20 2 24
Colin Randall 16 3 22
Goldy 18 2 22
John McCormick 15 3 21
Robert Simmonds 12 4 21
Bill Taylor 13 3 19


Predictions League: Sunderland, Baggies, Newcastle, Southampton, Liverpool, Swansea – How will they fare?

I think it goes without saying that we all just KNEW that Q.P.R would have an appointment sorted in time for our game. But, at the old cliche goes, one game at a time n all that! let’s see how many go for the tactic of predicting Sunderland to win and Newcastle to lose this week.

It certainly would have bagged people points last week, adopting such methods. Dinner time kick off (not lunchtime as I’m Northern and working class) and the Sky cameras for the lads today. And it’s coooold. My toes are numb and spirits surprisingly high, despite watching the horror show that was Plains Farm Under 9’s losing to a far inferior opposition. Oops, I’m not allowed to speak like that in junior football, as it’s the sole reason England are crap at senior level. Apparently.

The predictions are:

Sunderland v West Brom

Bill:The Baggies have been playing above themselves and look rather like a square peg in a fourth place round hole. It can’t last. The Cats have a bit of momentum going, have rediscovered where the net is and should knock them off their Chelski-beating pedestal. There are half a dozen of our guys capable of scoring the goals. 3-1.

Colin: Wins back-to-back are not something we tend to do but if we want to be taken seriously, we must build on the Fulham result and show we can beat 11 men as well as 10.  I’ll not be as bold as I’d like to by predicting goals galore for us, coming from midfield as well as Fletcher, and will suggest an edgy but just about deserved 1-0.

Goldy: If we hadn’t had grabbed that win at Fulham on Sunday, I’d be bricking it about this fixture. West Brom are having the season we were supposed to be having – keep an eye on Steve Clarke. I love a good theory based on law of averages, and that’s what I’m going on here. Only whipping boys and top four side are normally good/bad enough to break the wonderful concept of law of averages and I’m hoping we are above the whipping boys level. West Brom shouldn’t win two consecutive Premier League games away against mid table sides and we shouldn’t lose two at home. That’s my rationale. A nervous 1-0.

The rest: Jake 2-0. Malcolm 3-1. John Mac 2-1. Jeremy 2-1. Robert 1-1. Sixer 2-0.

Southampton v Newcastle

John Mac:Nufc’s lack of form continues and they struggle to contain Southampton’s attack. 1-1, with at least one red card

Robert: A draw against Swansea and a win against QPR will have Southampton
full of confidence. Newcastle will be short on confidence as results
haven’t been going their way and Cabaye just had surgery which will
rule him out for awhile. All that adds up to a 2-2 draw.

The rest: Jake 1-0. Malcolm 2-1. Bill 2-2. Jeremy 2-0. Colin 1-2. Sixer 2-1. Goldy 1-1.

Swansea v Liverpool
After Swansea’s great, nae, magnificent win against the enemy last week, they will keep up the good work and win 1-0.

Malcolm: You’ve picked another toughie here. Both sides are playing reasonably well but for the Scousers it will all depend upon whether Suarez fires or not. I’ll sit on the fence 1-1.

Jeremy: Liverpool are anything but predictable it seems. I do foresee and away win here at Rogers returns to his short lived stomping ground in the west of Wales. Two nout to the Scousers in this one. 0-2.

The rest: John Mac 1-1. Bill 2-1. Robert 2-3. Colin 2-1. Sizer 1-1. Goldy 1–1.

Salut! Predictions League: Predictable derby draw sees no correct predictions

Stephen Goldsmith writes: Despite the well documented fact that Sunderland have only won once at home to Newcastle  since the invention of the wheel, it goes without saying that not one of us predicted anything other than a home win on Sunday.

John McCormick admitted that he always predicts with the heart when it comes to the lads’ results, which gives me an automatic inferiority complex as it’s now clear that by him constantly predicting a Black Cats win, it means I should be in a better position than him due to the sheer numerical advantage – yet I’m nowhere near him in the table.

Jake assesses the quality of our panel


Whatever it was that people used to predict with for our game – heart or head – nobody scored from it.  Only Bill, Malcolm and Colin scored from the Spurs v Chelsea game, however none of the above got the exact score right.

All in all, a notable lack of movement in the table – something that the Sunderland midfield can surely relate to! Malcolm’s e-mails now come attached with the obligatory note reminding me that he’s not bragging about his league position, which means he’s clearly doing exactly that.

Here’s the table marras:

  Correct Results Correct Scores Points
Malcolm Dawson 12 5 22
John McCormick 10 3 16
Bill Taylor 9 2 13
Jake 11 1 13
Sixer 8 2 12
Goldy 9 1 11
Robert Simmons 7 2 11
Colin Randall 8 1 10
Jeremy Robson 8 0 8




Salut! Predictions: the big one, Spurs v Chelsea! Oh and Sunderland, Newcastle

Stephen Goldsmith writes: Let’s all be honest here. As my weekly e-mails float out in an attempt to gather people’s predictions and thoughts, enthusiasm isn’t always, shall we say, bouncing from the computer (or crap phone) screen when I read the replies. As the two main sources of our predictions – Sunderland and Newcastle – meet this weekend in what will surely be some sort of love fest played all in the right spirits, asking people for another two predictions seemed pointless. Especially when I annoy everyone and ask for a summary. This week, I wouldn’t blame anyone if they had simply replied:


Jake assesses the quality of our panel

Read moreSalut! Predictions: the big one, Spurs v Chelsea! Oh and Sunderland, Newcastle

Salut! Predictions League: Sunderland and Chelsea win, Newcastle and Reading draw

Jake assesses the quality of our panel

Stephen Goldsmith writes: Apologies for my rather botched attempt of the predictions last Saturday. Everybody must have been sick to their back teeth of my requests for their predictions; believe me, I wasn’t enjoying it either.

Add to that
my computer deciding it was less competent at creating and editing Salut! posts then it was last week, and I was ready to take my fists to some machinery or other (akin to that scene from Office Space where that bloke punches his photo copier to pieces). After spending the rest of the day sulking, I have kind of made my peace with modern technology.

Read moreSalut! Predictions League: Sunderland and Chelsea win, Newcastle and Reading draw