Monsieur Salut writes: I had an itch to get this week’s Guess the Score out there, but an e-mail from a Hull City supporter exiled in Sri Lanka removed any doubt. You may recall that last week, despite Sunderland’s inactivity, we offered a mini-edition of Nick Barnes’s splendid Matchbook for the first to post correct scorelines in two games of interest to but not involving SAFC, partly because some unexpected advertising enabled us to do so and partly because the publishers, Tales from Red and Whites are paying £5 into the Bradley Lowery fund for each copy bought. So there were two winners – a Hull supporter and Bradley. Read on …
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ESPN FC ran a fascinating survey on whether their blogger for each Premier League club – Monsieur Salut does the honours for Sunderland with occasional stand-ins by Mr Sixsmith (think Colin Todd on the bench for Gareth Hall and you get the picture) – would buy Jermain Defoe and if yes, what they’d pay.
The brands – so many of whose supporters find it a struggle to locate “their” club by pointing to a map – all voted the same way: No.
Everyone else, save for West Brom, jumped at the idea.
Monsieur Salut says: the international break makes me twitchy. No serious interest in the football, lots of time to worry about Sunderland. So let’s have a poll …
Are we, then, resigned to Jordan Pickford becoming another Jordan Henderson, red-and-white through and through but grasping, understandably, at opportunities higher up the footballing ladder than where Sunderland find themselves placed?
Do we reluctantly accept that pressure from Everton, or West Ham or someone else with pots of money to spend and heads to turn, will lure away Lamine Kone in January?
And could we live with one or both departing provided – are you listening, Mr Short? – adequate replacements are secured before anyone is let out of the door? So not just Vito Mannone fit again – though that matters, too – but people coming in, and coming in as a pre-condition of anyone else’s departure.
John McCormick writes: If that had been us scoring the goal would have been disallowed. No ifs, buts or maybes. It shows just how much the Gods of football have taken against us in recent years and it makes me think, despite my optimistic nature and the presence of Hull, Boro (got to give them credit today) and Burnley (if Boro get credit what do they get?) that this could be the season we go down.
But maybe not. I know nowt about football and for an informed opinion I have to peek over M Salut’s shoulder as he opens the letter written exclusively for him (and maybe one or two others) and couriered across London at vast expense:
Around this time of every year, there are certainties we take for granted. The calendar will tell us it is October, trees shed leaves, shops advertise Christmas as if it’s only next week and Sunderland supporters still await a first win of the season.
We generally don’t draw too much comfort for we have actually won twice, because there is something distinctly hollow about beating lower league opposition in the League Cup when you can barely pick up a draw in the Premier League.
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 …
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 …
We didn’t want supporters of any of the shortlisted clubs to feel left out. They were omitted from the heading of today’s earlier announcement of the start of the process for Salut! Sunderland‘s annual HAWAY awards for the opposing fans who gave us the best interviews this season. This second bite at the cherry completes the shortlist: 13 interviews, 12 clubs (there are two Man Utd nominees).
And we have our first prize sponsor lined up: our pals at the half-decent football magazine When Saturday Comes are putting up a year’s subscription, for which we are very grateful as will be its recipient. With just two more ‘Who are You?’ interviews to be published, the final results should be available soon after the season ends – with SAFC, we hope, still in the Premier League…
A new era, even if turns out to be a mini-era, dawns. It is fitting that the first Guess the Score with Dick Advocaat in charge of the team should be a rollover, offering two mugs from which to drink your generous servings of what Wikipedia calls “Advocaat or Advocaatenborrel, a traditional Dutch alcoholic beverage made from eggs, sugar and brandy”.