By now you should have read part one of this series, the preview of the Christmas period which I wrote for the SAFC programme. You might even remember some of the words I wrote, especially the conclusion:
“Christmas and early January remain crucial, which for us means holding our own away and completing doubles over Bradford and Shrewsbury at home. I’m not one for predicting results or tempting fate, and am all too aware there are no easy games in this league but I think we can do that, and I can see us still being in contention when the decorations come down.”
Regular readers will know that the Salut team make occasional appearances in the official matchday programme. Recent visitors will know that my last contribution came at the end of 2018, when I wrote about my take on the year before the Shrewsbury game.
However, that piece only came about after Sunderland had to fit in an extra cup game following our draw at Walsall.
I was originally asked to do something for the Bristol Rovers programme, with a focus on League One’s promotion challengers over the Christmas/New Year period. The extra game forced a change to the timetable and then other events took over, with the result that the piece I duly sent off never made it into print.
We could have done with another striker in, and few obvious suspects out, and can only hope loan deals are in the pipeline for such movement.
For now, Salut! Sunderland welcomes the 12th signing off the summer, Max Power on loan from Wigan until January with a view to sealing a permanent transfer in the new year.
Amid all Sunderland’s more pressing problems, it seems almost incidental to reflect on how old you now have to be to have any dependable first-hand memory of May 5 1973: Porterfield’s goal, Monty’s double save, Stokoe’s sprint and our cup.
Never forget that the London branch of the SAFC Supporters’ Association voted years ago to change the name of its newsletter from 5573 to Wear Down South, an excellent title but the choice reflecting younger – and also some older – members’ reluctance to be reminded quite so regularly of how long had passed since the arrival of serious silverware at Roker Park or the Stadium of Light.
And we all know what has happened to the status and allure of the FA Cup in more recent times. It was different in 1973. And if Monsieur Salut’s younger daughter, Nathalie Randall, were somewhat older, enough to have seen that win against lofty, dirty Leeds, it’s a fair bet that the emotion and glory of that day – and her father’s celebrations – might have have steered her into lifelong support of Sunderland, not Liverpool.
But let Nathalie explain how her own feelings about the competition have been affected by two unexpected results, Wigan’s heartening act of giant-killing and Rochdale’s draw against Spurs to ensure at least one day out at Wembley …
Every now and then, when there is no meaningful football on I take a wander around the NorthWest, focusing on some of the clubs we might otherwise forget. I must add, however, that I do mention big’ns when necessary, as you can see, which brings me to Everton FC who, having gained plaudits for their supporters’ player of the month, went one better with their magnificent gesture to help Bradley Lowery. Well done EFC, who surely are, as Sixer said after they tonked us, a class club.
We might have another blank weekend but it’s only two weeks since my last relegation watch so, even though things are hotting up, what with Norwich drawing with Citeh and Rafa Benitez taking over the horse punchers after the dismally drawn out sacking of Steve McLaren (and this in the week Mr. Ashley was warned he might be held in contempt for his failure to meet MPs who want to discuss the treatment of his employees), it’s too early to go back there.
What a website! On 15th June, in response to my “who went down, who’s going down?” Dave left a comment which included:
“… I think Pearson will, at some point, have a big row with a player or a fan, and the team’s spirit that kept them up will dissipate…”
Two weeks later Leicester City’s website contained the following:
“…it has become clear to the Club that fundamental differences in perspective exist between us. Regrettably, the Club believes that the working relationship between Nigel and the Board is no longer viable…”
The effect on team spirit remains to be seen but as I said at the start, what a website!
A week ago I left you with a poll whose results were suggesting the targets of my dodgy numbers “relegation watch” would be the three promoted clubs and Leicester. Since then another couple of thousand votes have been cast but they didn’t make much difference, despite the turmoil at the Kingpower . Here are last Friday’s and this Friday’s results:
Strange, isn’t it? I spend Monday evening idly browsing the MLS (aka Major League Soccer) website trying to work out how it (the league, not the website) operates and then along comes David Millward with a piece about a football convention in the USA. I wonder if the fans he mixed with can get their heads around relegation and promotion better than I can handle the subtleties of the MLS.
As we’re not playing this weekend, I thought I’d provide some March-flavoured comment. I see it as my duty as a citizen of the European Capital of Culture (2008) to bring enlightenment to the denizens of the runners up, Newcastle-Gateshead. You’re one of them, by the way. The Angel of the North is part of Northumberland according to the opening of Robson Greens’ latest TV series, and Hadrian’s wall marks the border with Scotland according to independence referendum pundits, so anywhere up north must surely qualify as part of Newcastle-Gateshead, which are and always will be two distinct towns as far as I’m concerned.
I must include references to football, of course, which allows me to begin by saying March down here saw quite a few miserable faces following Everton’s exit from Europe and then Stevie G’s early bath, which no doubt contributed to a defeat at the hands of Liverpool’s arch arch-enemy. Ha!
This post is about relegation, something never far from our minds, and who this season’s three might be. Over the summer I looked over a little bit of history and generated some numbers in order to bring you more of my dodgy predictions. Enjoy them or argue with them as you will. Just don’t nick the family allowance and run off to the bookies.