No game, and no need – or desire – for a relegation review so soon after the last one, which means I’m taking another meander around the Northwest to bring you up to date, more or less, with some of the clubs on this side of the Pennines.
I was going to title this piece “take a walk on the west side” in homage to wrinkly Pete’s propensity for including songs. You’ll find out why I didn’t at the end.
Blackpool, Bolton, Blackburn and even Morecambe. Is there a warning for us?
John McCormick writes: I was thinking of updating our “Relegation watch” this weekend, seeing as there’s no football on, but with a couple of days to go before the transfer window shuts it feels like it’s too early to complete the “before and after” picture. I could have given you my view of Deloitte’s Money Football League but in recent seasons that has been pushed into the summer and I like it there. So I’ve decided to do another of my occasional visits to clubs on this side of the Pennines, where there is plenty of food for thought.
Good old Arsenal. Sincere sympathies to Wigan
Here’s where you can say what you wish about the fact that we have stayed up and the manner in which that was achieved.
The Lars Word: energy, drive, enthusiasm and entertainment just around the corner
Either that or shattered nerves have sent Lars Knutsen round the bend. He expects Wigan to stumble at the Emirates tonight and we all know what that would mean, unless stumble were to equal draw and they then thumped Villa by a cricket score while we lost heavily at Spurs (a combination of 6-0 and 5-0, for example, and we’d go down on same goal difference, fewer scored). That’s clearly not a scenario Lars envisages, but he does expect a surviving Sunderland to reinvent themselves as punk’s footballing equivalent. Without, Monsieur Salut trusts, the music …
Sunderland, Newcastle safe (ish). And the losers are … QPR, Aston Villa plus Reading or Wigan
It may not seem a good time to be predicting relegation for Reading (just after they’ve beaten us), QPR (buoyed by big new signings with an escapologist in charge) and Aston Villa (didn’t we somehow contrive to make even them seem half-decent?). But John McCormick has been pottering around with his blinding statistictal science again, attempting to calculate the impact fluctuating goal differences can have on survival prospects. As things stand, he sees safety for Sunderland but not by a comfortable margin and a possible lifeline for Reading, at Wigan’s expense …
Wigan winter warmer confounds Notts Forest fan’s predictions (SAFC down, Newcastle 9th)
Pete Sixsmith did not expect to be at the DW Stadium. His original plan involved a trip to Bitton, not far from Bristol, to see Shildon in the FA Vase but he wisely changed his mind even before all Saturday’s games in the competition were called off. So he became one of the 5,000 candidates for Man of the Match at Wigan as he joined the fabulous travelling army roaring Sunderland to victory …
Martin’s Musings from Wigan: praise for fans’ cure of Bolton hangover
In his post-match e-mail from Wigan Athletic, Martin O’Neill once again praises the red and white faithful who risked becoming snowbound on the journey over the Pennines to provide the players with the vocal encouragement to help them deal with an early setback. Things got a little more hairy as the final whistle approached but overall the manager was pleased with the performance.
Sixer’s Sevens: Wigan Athletic 2 SAFC 3 – backs-to-wall triumph
This is where Pete Sixsmith records his instant verdict, in seven words, on each Sunderland game. When he cannot make it, a supersub steps in and his (or her) seven-word summing-up is preceded by an asterisk. Today, Sunderland overcame an early setback to take a commanding 3-1 lead at Wigan only to waste chances in the second half to put the game out of reach and instead endure the jumpiest of finishes as Athletic piled forward. We saw the lead cut but managed to cling on. All the same, this was an utterly crucial victory in terms of both points and post-Bolton morale. Another great performance by the fans – 5,000 as at the first Bolton game – and reason to hope for more composed football as the second half of the season progresses …
A view of Wigan from Sunderland via FC Union Berlin
The Wigan Athletic fan site This Northern Soul (co-founder B Ramsdale, a lay visiting preacher in this parish) wanted to chat to a Sunderland supporter ahead of WAFC v SAFC this Saturday. It opted to look beyond the culture and eloquence of Salut! Sunderland. No hard feelings here; the man Bernard and his mates found was one Mark Wilson, a Mackem on manoeuvres in Berlin. Here is the resulting conversation, preceded by This Northern Soul’s introduction …
Wigan v SAFC ‘Who are You?’: Bernard Ramsdale returns with ominous news for Newcastle
Bernard Ramsdale, a founder of the Wigan Athletic fan site This Northern Soul has been a friend to this site for a few years, so much so that one of two Wigan fans raised doubts the ensuing “love-in”. He remains a great, albeit electronic pal whose contributions to these pages have been outstanding. After a rest from “Who are You?” duties, Bernard is back. That friendship does not extend to playing to the gallery – Bernard simply speaks his mind – but he has, shall we say, interesting thoughts on the relegation battle …