Jim White*, vice-chairman of the Swans Trust and the man behind www.scfc2.co.uk and https://twitter.com/swansinfo, is one of Salut! Sunderland‘s established friends. This is not his first visit to the Who are You? chair. But his thoughts are always fresh and always appreciated, even when – as now – he foresees the worst for us. Ahead of Swansea v Sunderland, Jim detects similarities between our clubs and is happy to declare a soft spot for SAFC. There’s some kiss and tell, too: he reveals why Mrs White No 1 is no longer Mrs White. And you can come back tomorrow to see what our own Pete Sixsmith told Jim’s site …
Monsieur Salut writes: this is indeed the Swansea City v Sunderland AFC Guess the Score. From this game onwards, temporarily at least, we revert to ‘for fun only’. We will still come up with competitions whenever sponsors appear on the scene and it goes without saying that any reader who knows a potential candidate/business should get in touch. And in the meantime, have a go anyway …
We asked you to Guess the Score in the Arsenal FA Cup match, with a prize at stake for the last time unless and until a new sponsor comes along to replace Personalised Football Gifts, who depart with our thanks for generous past support (see https://safc.blog/2016/01/the-salut-sunderland-3m-hits-competition-nearly-there/).
And before that we asked you to let us know what we are doing well, what we could do better and what we shouldn’t be doing at all at Salut! Sunderland. To mark last week’s milestone – the three millionth hit since the site was launched eight years ago – we persuaded another supplier, Classic Football Shirts, to come up with a prize for the best response.
We have a winner to announce. And without trace of a fix, the same reader has won both prizes.
Goalkeeping is trade that packs the odd surprise.
When Arsenal beat us 3-1 in the Premier League on December 5, the man of the match was not Ozil or any of Wenger’s other stars but Petr Cech, testament to the importance of his saves in stopping Sunderland gaining a point from the game.
And despite conceding three goals in the FA Cup tie on Saturday, our own Jordan Pickford was the best player on the pitch, ahead of the excellent Hector Bellerin and, though he played only from the 67th minute, the game-changing Aaron Ramsey.
It wasn’t signed, sealed and announced as Pete Sixsmith succumbed to the editor’s pressure and wrote his customary piece welcoming an ostensibly smart and necessary new signing. It is now (see the official announcement at safc.com)*. We don’t often get to bring in players from one of the best two or three teams in Europe so it feels quite a special moment in Sunderland history …
Forget the idiotic media-fuelled and possibly media-created spat between Big Sam and some manager-come-lately on Merseyside. Either the whole thing is a nonsense or one or two men need to grow up if an honest disagreement about fitness is to be seen by either as a row. This is a piece of more significance for Sunderland supporters. David Preece, Sunderland-born, a SAFC fan and on our books until he embarked on a career elsewhere, can write as well as keep goal (he’s currently player/goalkeeping coach at Lincoln City but see that wonderful bit of action in the clip).
His well-argued article for the Sunderland Echo can be seen in full at this link. We reproduce extracts with the Echo’s kind consent …
And this is the posting that took Salut! Sunderland past the milestone of 3 million hits …
— Robbie (@Robert_S_Sweet) January 7, 2016
As one door closes, another opens. Personalised Football Gifts, the Weardale-based supplier of fine mugs to winners of our regular Guess the Score competition, has decided the time has come to end the arrangement. Quite simply, not enough readers followed links to their site so it is hardly a decision we can quarrel with. A winner of this week’s Arsenal v SAFC competition will still receive a mug. As a mark of appreciation of their sponsorship over the past couple of years, we have offered to keep the company’s ad on the site until the end of the season. Thanks to Ian, Hazel, Helen and, until his departure from the company, Alan, for all their support … and now let’s move on with Classic Football Shirts
The allegiance of our second Arsenal ‘Who are You?’ interviewee of the season is the product of boyhood rebellion. With a name like Sixsmith, you’d naturally expect him to grow up Sunderland through and through. But Andy Sixsmith*, sports presenter for Made in Tyne and Wear TV, is not made of the same stuff as Uncle Pete, Uncle Phil or his old dad, Michael (not to mention a maternal Mag). Peering into a crystal ball as a lad, he clearly saw it coming and wanted nowt to do with our chronic misery. Uncle Pete nominated him for this slot so let’s see what he makes of the questions …
Salut! Sunderland is in an irrational hurry to reach that third millionth hit. It will happen sooner or later but posting Guess the Score early in the week will hasten progress towards the milestone. Don’t forget there’s another competition, arising from our little statistical celebration, and that carries a prize worth £50 at https://safc.blog/2016/01/a-mighty-thank-you-as-salut-sunderland-reaches-three-million/. Now guess the score in Saturday’s FA Cup third round game at the Emirates …
Monsieur Salut writes: Pete Sixsmith remembers a player who figured in his youth and mine as we made our way every other Saturday to Roker Park. Despite having to slog for a regular place against gifted stars of the age, ‘Amby’ Fogarty was a good player who served our club, other clubs and his country well …
They don’t make players with names like that anymore. Ambrose Gerald Fogarty, born in Dublin in 1933, just before Hitler came to power in Germany, has died at the ripe old age of 82.
Malcolm Dawson writes…….Sixsmith Towers was a haven of joy and celebration this morning as Pete Sixsmith listened to Test Match Special’s description of Durham cricketer Ben Stokes totally destroying the South African bowling. World records tumbled as the highest ever partnership compiled by two ginger headed batsman put the game (and probably the series) beyond the reach of the home side. There were celebrations yesterday too, though somewhat more muted, following Sunderland AFC’s third home win of this season’s Premier League campaign. On the way to the game we speculated that recent injuries to Kaboul, O’Shea and Coates left Big Sam with few options at the back so it was with some relief that we heard the team news as we parked up pre-match. O’Shea and Brown, a well tried but ageing partnership was surely better than any available alternative. It didn’t take a genius to realise that anything short of a win would have left us with as much chance of avoiding relegation as South Africa have of winning the second Test. We achieved that at least and the lifeline, through frayed is still intact. Here’s how Pete saw things.
Aston Villa (H)2016
In our dire situation, a win is a win and three points should be gratefully accepted – and we do, oh yes, we do. The first win since current media darlings Stoke City were seen off at the end of November saw us regain a grip on the coat tails of Newcastle United and Swansea City in the swamp that is the bottom of the Premier League. Much can change between now and the darling buds of May appearing. We could go on a blistering run a la Leicester City and pick up 30+ points between now and the final game at home to relegation rivals Chelsea. Or we could slip away with barely a murmur as Aston Villa appear to be doing after their loss at The Stadium of Light yesterday.
It depends on the calibre of footballer that arrives on Wearside in the next 28 days. The squad needs bolstering, of that there is no doubt, but which players can be tempted to sign for a club which started the season as one of the favourites to go down and who have done little to make the bookies sell their Jags and replace it with a second hand Lada.
Yesterday’s win was welcome but was against opposition so poor that it would have been an utter disgrace not to have beaten them. If this was the best that Reme Garde could produce, what a shame that he isn’t in charge at The Sports Direct. I said in the 7 that it was the old boys who got us through this, and it was. John O’Shea and Wes Brown have known little other than relegation struggles since Steve Bruce brought them to Wearside, which must be strange after a lifetime of winning things with Alex Ferguson. Brown has hardly played this year and is clearly winding down his career. Sunderland must hope that his experience and professionalism rub off on Thomas Beadling, a young central defender who may well get a game at Arsenal on Saturday. Both central defenders did well in this one. Brown may have missed the speed merchant Traore for the equaliser, but his no-nonsense defending and ability to boot the ball out gave us a relatively secure base, while O’Shea’s complete domination of Gestede meant that any chances Villa created came from their midfield.
Lee Cattermole grew into the game and was excellent in the second half, tackling, cajoling and passing the ball as if his life depended on it. With the always reliable M’Vila (we’ll forget the attempted trip on Traore) behind him, we had a reasonable base to win the ball and move it forward.
And up front we had Jermain Defoe. According to the ever reliable Sunday Mirror, he is on his way to the retirement home that is Bournemouth, swapping a crowd of 41,000 for one of 11,000. The climate may be more agreeable on the Costa del Geriatrica but if he wants s to play his football in front of a proper audience, he will stay at Sunderland. He took his two goals well. His first was a joy to behold, not least because it put us back in front. He received an excellent ball from Johnson and then stitched the ageing Joleon Lescott up beautifully before beating Guzan at his near post. A classic striker’s goal and one that spelled doom for the Villa.
His second came after a comedy of errors that would have shamed the Brandon and Byshottles Sunday League Division Three as Villa threw the ball to Cattermole who took it up to the corner flag and then from the resulting throw allowed Graham to play in Toivonen, who calmly squared it for Defoe to rattle the back of the net. If ever a goal summed up the ineptitude of the opposition that was it.
What about the others? They did OK. Nobody was totally off the pace, although Borini looked unhappy on the wing. There was plenty of effort as there had been on Wednesday and this time we were able to go on and win. Mistakes were made but that happens – our errors were nowhere near as catastrophic as those perpetrated by the visitors.
But we have no identifiable style and it always strikes me as 11 blokes playing football. Villa, for all their weaknesses, played some tidy stuff in midfield but they ran out of steam, with Grealish being the main culprit. Yet another example of a player choosing to believe what is said about him rather than focusing on performing. He is clearly the next Joe Cole/Jack Wilshere. (or Connor Wickham? MD)
There is still a long way to go and a win over Villa is nothing to get excited about – they may struggle to beat our 15 point total and could even fall below the alarmingly low 11 points that Derby County (Robbie Savage and all) achieved in 2008.
We now go into an FA Cup tie with Arsenal and I expect to see a very different team from the one that turned out yesterday with some of the younger players given a chance to show what they can do. Then, we go on to Swansea, where I expect to see at least one new player as we go into yet another crucial game. Win that one and we give ourselves a chance – lose it and we are back amongst the dead men yet again.
Villa are already there and waiting for the coffin nails to be banged in.