I’m getting a bit tired of the title (and Monsieur Salut should apologise to any reader lured here by thoughts it was a poll on religion; the word inexplicably replaced relegation in the headline when published and still appeared some time later at the newsnow.co.uk site) .
But just because we have some decent players, led by one of the Premier League’s most experienced managers and backed by a tremendous crowd, we can’t assume we’re safe.
Our record is not good. We’ve been one of the survivors for too many seasons and we can’t take anything for granted. Even now there will be some fans somewhere rubbing their hands as they look at the fixtures and thinking ‘Sunderland, that’s an easy three points’.
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 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.
John McCormick writes: back in January various sources ran the news that all of 2013-14’s Premiership clubs were in the world’s top 40 in terms of revenue. While Norwich, Fulham and Cardiff won’t stay there for 2016 I expect Burnley, QPR and Leicester to replace them. Looking ahead to 2017, Burnley, Hull and QPR should drop out with Norwich reappearing, along with Watford and Bournemouth; that’s the power of the Premier …
Salut! Sunderland naturally observes strict political neutrality in everything it says, does and feels. If, for example, we wanted to say we’d seen the play Enron last night and thought how nice it was to watch this warm portrayal of Mr Cameron’s natural allies, we’d keep such impudent notions to ourselves. Nor would we dream of adopting Oysterband’s brilliant phrase from an earlier election (“We voted Labour but didn’t inhale”). But
Pete Sixsmithhas a soapbox and what’s a soapbox for but spouting a spot of rhetoric? His column, therefore, is not for the faint-hearted – and that’s just the bit about the football despair May can bring …
Very soon now, we will be on our way to electing a new government of whatever persuasion. Will it be red, will it be blue, will it be yellow, will it be yellow and blue, will it be yellow and red, will it be red and blue? What if we are colour blind? All will be decided on Thursday night.
Footballers are not supposed to be interested in politics. Some show their allegiance openly – Lampard has declared himself a dyed in the wool Tory (so there’s another reason to dislike him), while James Beattie supports the Eton Boys because they don’t believe in taxing those earning astronomical amounts of money – they will raise money by reducing tax credits instead.