On Saturday, as remarked upon by everyone including Bournemouth fans, Sunderland’s support was magnificent.
I came across one little Cherries snipe about the one-minute silence being interrupted at our end and even that was simply wrong. The noise wasn’t much and came entirely from the concourse, where no referee’s whistle signalling a tribute was about to begin could have been heard and no one can have had any idea what was happening on the pitch. And even then, people near me went “shhhh …” as if the innocently noisy could hear.
But I do have one whinge …
I cannot think of many circumstances in which I would join a chant that exclaims “you’re not fit to wear the shirt”.
But that chant was heard, albeit briefly, in the period following Bournemouth taking the lead and was directed at Lamine Kone after a single mistake. Yes, I know we have reason to resent his apparent lack of commitment to the club, but this was an ugly response and went too far. I cannot even clearly recall what he did – lose possession cheaply, put a pass astray – beyond remembering that I was angry with him, too. But shout at him that he is effectively an unwanted disgrace? Never.
To be fair, some people around me seemed to share my view. I saw a couple look round at the culprits in what I took to be disgust. Like me, they probably wondered what those chanting actually hoped to achieve.
Kone went on from that shaky start to play fairly well. He may or may not think his future lies with us. I’d like to think it does; I’ll be as hard on him as most if, having won himself a presumably lucrative new contract, he kicks up a fuss in January and demands a move to Everton, West Ham or elsewhere.
For now, though, he is ours. He owes it to us to play his heart out for the cause. And we owe it to him to support him. He is not the player he was after arriving for the second half of last season but nor can he any longer draw strength from an important reason for that success, the partnership with Younes Kaboul.
None of this detracts from my wholehearted admiration for the passion, loyalty and sheer volume of our support. For that reason, while I felt the above was worth saying, I shall ensure it appears beneath the positive accounts from Rob Hutchison and Robert Chapman.