Another international weekend with Sunderland players called up. You might wonder how, given that we’re a League One club and we can barely score, never mind keep a clean sheet. But let’s be thankful for small mercies, not only does it give the players a weekend without conceding, it also gives me a chance to bring us up to date before Pete Sixsmith starts a new series (I won’t tell you what it is but I will assure you of its quality) that will take us to Christmas and the site’s wind-down.
For my part, I’ll be keeping things brief. I still have neuropathy following my treatment (follow the link to find out what I’m on about) and it’s likely to last a lot longer. Typing isn’t easy and creating and manipulating graphs takes forever, which explains why this lot aren’t a uniform size.
Still, things could be worse, I’ve now had two all-clear blood tests and we are still within spitting distance of the playoffs, as you will see below:
NB: our technical problems have not been completely fixed. Readers cannot post comments. We are working on this.
In the meantime, you can always have your say on anything that appears here, or for that matter any SAFC topics which do not, at Salut! Sunderland’s Facebook group. Click on any of the preceding four words. If you are told that you need to join the group, you can do so easily. Approval is very quick.
In the Premier League, we moaned as Sunderland put in one rotten display after another. In the Championship, it was the same as, far from pushing for immediate promotion, we disintegrated as a side and almost as a club.
Last season, we whinged about all those draws. Yet we reached Wembley twice and nearly got back up again, gifted an own goal in the opening minutes of the playoff final only to devise a way of losing.
And this season, we find ourselves with a new manager rather earlier in the season than appeared in the script. And in 10th place after more rotten displays, most recently a 1-0 defeat at mighty Wycombe Wanderers.
Monsieur Salut writes: abject apologies to all our readers. A technical issue shut us down for a while but we now appear to be at least on our way back to normality. Bob Chapman once again filled Sixer’s boots in style and ought to have a cheerful match report to offer. But hey, this is – as we well know only took well – Sunderland. Phil Parkinson can hardly be blamed having been in charge for only three days. Where we go from here – a lowly 10th – is anyone’s guess …
With the knowledge that there was a south of Lincoln match embargo in operation, I contacted Pete
to find out who was going to do the match report from Wycombe.
He informed me that he was in Prague with an ex Ferryhill colleague of ours, Peter Malkin and would I mind volunteering for the task.
Thinking that this was the start of a new era I readily confirmed that I would be more than happy to oblige as there would undoubtedly be plenty of positives to report back on.
At first glance, the League one table makes for depressing perusal. Sunderland and down to ninth and are now eight points behind the convincing leaders, Ipswich Town, with no games in hand.
The second glance makes it seem more respectable. We are just one point behind a top six place and have two games in hand over Blackpool in sixth with the same pathetic goal difference of +2.
This Saturday’s opponents, Wycombe Wanderers, are second and only four points ahead of SAFC having played one game more. So leave aside Ipswich’s so far exemplary sprint to the top and we remain competitive.
On Friday we had over 3,000 visitors, followed by a quiet weekend. Not everyone took part in our top six poll but over 1200 votes (not voters) have now been cast. That’s not bad, I suppose, for a League One fans’ site but I am expecting a few more will chip in before the season kicks off.
Early results suggest the headline I used then – for which I visited a couple of betting sites to find the promotion favourites – was on the right lines. Of the six clubs I named five are in the top spots. Lincoln (currently lingering in 8th place) are the exception with Sunderland, unsurprisingly, replacing them. There’s a gap – slight but quite evident – between the top three and the next three, after which numbers drop off, so Lincoln and Doncaster, who made last season’s playoffs and now lie seventh, have quite a bit of ground to make up.
All of the clubs in the League received votes, which I’m taking to signify that we managed a wide reach. It will be interesting to see if enough fans of so-called smaller clubs, which are predominantly towards the bottom of the poll, visit in large enough numbers to move their favourites upwards. Crowdwise, numbers are against them but we have only small numbers voting so you never know.
Last season our punters got it more or less right and correctly predicted most of the top six. Luton were missed but that was mainly down to the Coventry Ninjas, whose hijack of last year’s poll pushed them (Luton) out of the top places.
Maybe the ninjas or another club’s fans will do the same again this season. As far as I’m aware the polldaddy vulnerability that allowed multiple voting still exists and all I can do is disable the ability of readers to see the results in real time. That might change how the poll coding works (it’s built-in and can’t be changed) but it takes something away. A pity, but there we go.
I’ve got a lot on for the next few weeks so I won’t be conjuring up a novel method of tracking and displaying our chosen clubs’ progress or the lack of it. All I’ll be doing is monitoring the accretion of points for now, though I might come up with something different later in the season.
As always, your comments are welcome. We hold posts for moderation but they do go up eventually, subject to meeting commonsense rules of decency, manners, libel etc.
As ever, visiting fans are welcome to post comments, corrections, updates and their thoughts on their and other clubs’ prospects for the season.
For earlier posts in this series try these links:
Clubs from M (MK Dons) to R (Rochdale): From MK Dons to Rochdale via Oxford, Peterborough and Portsmouth: it’s a short financial ramble
It has become a bit of a stuck old gramophone record, Salut! Sunderland‘s pride in a tremendous season of Who are You? interviews with opposing supporters.
Judging is at an advanced stage for our HAWAYs – annual awards for Highly Articulate Who are You?s – and with only a couple of sets of votes still awaited, front-runners are emerging.
League One has been a goldmine for the series (not forgetting our cup-game interviewees from other divisions)
As Monsieur Salut put it when writing to the judges: “I could have put them all in a hat and drawn three at random, so good have so many of the interviews been.”
As befits a man returning from the county of Buckinghamshire, wot is down south, Pete Sixsmith, imbued with culture, has written a masterly account of a divided nation, of skulduggery and of a last minute reprieve.
Those of you who, in the Bard’s words “lack the stomach for this fight” are advised to turn your heads from this page.
Those of you who have seen Friday nights in the singing ends of the CIU will be all right
First of all, I was not there. I have no first-hand idea of whether Lee Swabey is a model referee, a man who leaves each game with head rightly held high, or a disgrace, the worst of a bad bunch allowed to officiate the third tier of English football. Or somewhere in between.
There wasn’t even Barnes and Benno to guide me. Sometimes I cannot locate the link and others direct me to it. Yesterday, that “audio commentary” prompt at safc.com did not display itself at its usual top left corner spot, whatever screen or browser I tried. The club site was having its own problems and kept apologising for the shortcomings of its text commentary.
But there is powerful consensus among the SAFC fans contributing to social media, and the more measured North-eastern football writers who tweets and report I see, that Mr Swabey was not up to yesterday’s task.