Sixer’s selection: The Good, the OK, the Downright Awful and the Borrowed

Sixer keeping cool

John McCormick writes: I’m remaining neutral in respect of a preference for promotion but I have to express an opinion about last night’s result. While we were outplayed for a lot of the second half Fulham only won because of two decisions the ref got wrong. One was to allow a goal where the scorer had moved offside before a free kick was taken – a close decision, this, and perhaps forgivable to get wrong. The other was much clearer, although I didn’t see it until a post-game replay. We should have had a penalty. That we didn’t hardly affects us but there may be consequences for Cardiff.

Bob Chapman, our man at the match, may not agree with me and I won’t know for a while as his report is expected to be late in arriving. To keep us occupied and entertained until it does here’s a little something from Pete Sixsmith. I’ve given you Patrick and Jozy, can you put names to the other faces?

Read moreSixer’s selection: The Good, the OK, the Downright Awful and the Borrowed

Sixer Says: can’t play like Chelsea, can talk total sport to The Guardian

Pete thinks "this was supposed to be a walk round the ground."
Pete: ‘wasn’t this supposed to be a walk round the ground’

John McCormick writes:some 7,687 votes have been cast in our relegation poll. I wonder if Guardian writer Louise Taylor is among the voters. She’s one of a team that predict we’ll finish 15th, according to the opening line of her assessment of our chances for this season.

Read moreSixer Says: can’t play like Chelsea, can talk total sport to The Guardian

Sixer’s Sentiments: pots, kettles, lies, damned lies and statistics

With Year 8 otherwise occupied finishing off their selection boxes whilst playing on their i-pads, Pete Sixsmith has time to study the financial pages of The Guardian. Then, when he’s finished that he can study the latest in football statistics published in the sports section.

Pete preaching the gospel according to The Guardian

It’s amazing what a couple of wins can do.

Like the mystical pick me up with which Jeeves fed a hung-over Bertie Wooster after a particularly heavy night at The Drones Club, three wins out of four makes the day look brighter and leaves one longing for the next game.

I gather that some think that I have been too harsh recently. This may well be the case and I would be delighted to eat a massive helping of humble pie come May and a top 8 finish, with local rivals trailing many points and places behind. But it has been a dismal three months, with one win from August to November and good football as scarce as a love in between Ferguson and Pardew.

Isn’t that a wonderful spat? Pardew, hardly a gentleman, launches into Ferguson for voicing his red faced opinions at Mike Dean, forgetting his manhandling of a linesman in August and his attempted assault on MON in February.

On the other hand, Ferguson feels that he is perfectly entitled to launch a puce faced attack on a referee as he enters the field after half time. He didn’t swear, but having the spit flecked face of a ranting pensioner pushed in yours is hardly conducive to refereeing in a calm and civilised manner.

This morning’s Guardian published a selection of statistics from the season so far. Surprisingly, we don’t appear in that many. None of our players are in the top six scorers, passmakers accurate or otherwise, or chances created.

The team is nowhere to be seen in the best half dozen for shots, passes, goals or comebacks, where the Puce Faced one’s players have taken 24 points from games in which they have fallen behind.

Nor do we have a player in the top six of fouls committed which may make those critics of Cattermole sit up and take notice. The players who have the most fouls are Fellaini and Holt with 44 each.

We do have Simon Mignolet 3rd in the most saves category. He has made 66, one less than Wigan’s Ali al-Habsi and one more than Mark Schwarzer, while the clear leader is West Ham’s Jussi Jaaskelainen with 80.

The stats tell us that we do use the long ball a bit. 14.78% of our passes are knocked long, putting us in fifth place. West Ham are fourth (surprise, surprise), Reading are third, Stoke City are second (even bigger surprise, surprise) but the table toppers with 16.74% of their passes long balls up field are our near neighbours Newcastle United. Read into this what you will.

Tricky game for us on Saturday. Spurs can be unstoppable when they click, but they only do it intermittently. Hopefully, the discipline and concentration we showed on Boxing Day has been bottled and stored and we will take a huge drink of it pre match. I am looking forward to it.

Ha’way the Lads.

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Jonathan Wilson: the candystripe passions of grandfather, father and son

Jonathan Wilson''s book on a Sunderland great

NB: A tweet by the author, coinciding with World Alzheimer’s Month, has brought this poignant and outstandingly written article a deserved new burst of interest, causing Salut! Sunderland to promote it back to the front page of the site nearly a year after it first appeared. It will stay prominently displayed for the rest of September …

I am proud to say that permission has been received for the reproduction of this quite exceptional and moving account by Jonathan Wilson*, the Sunderland-supporting Guardian sportswriter, of memories of his dad, and an exchange as death approached, that summed up the passion handed down through generations …

Last year, after my dad had died, I stayed holding his hand for about quarter of an hour and then left the nurses to it. In the hospital waiting room I made three calls. The first was to Sunderland Civic Centre to register the death. The second was to the undertakers. And the third was to The Independent to tell them that I was, after all, free to cover Sunderland v Burnley the next day.

I know a lot of people found that odd. To be honest, looking back, it seems odd to me. At the time, though, it seemed perfectly natural.

Read moreJonathan Wilson: the candystripe passions of grandfather, father and son

SuperKev quiz: see how you fare

Salut! Sunderland‘s daily newspaper of choice, when not in France, is The Guardian, just as its preferred Sunday read is The Observer. It would love there to be a whole day without Graun suits warning of cutbacks and crisis (OK, that’s an exaggeration; a whole month would be fairer.).

But for now, let us just repeat one or two of the questions posed in today’s Guardian on a subject close to our hearts: Kevin Phillips.

Read moreSuperKev quiz: see how you fare