Who approached Tuesday night thinking “we can rely on old Brucie to mess it up and do us a favour?”,Elmo will have the sort of stinker he played for us and Jordan Henderson will lead Liverpool to victory for our sake as well as theirs?
I thought my phone screen was frozen when it kept saying 1-0 every time I looked. Bruce had got his result, Elmo providing the cross from which Dawson scored the winner, and Hendo could do no more than huff and puff with the rest of a misfiring Liverpool side.
So the night ended with Hull a lot closer to safety than us. Heaven knows what Leicester will do to Chelsea tonight to make us even glummer.
If you were supporters of the other strugglers, you might be thinking that at least your Lads had some gumption, could pull off important wins. We can look back, so far, on just two of those – both against Newcastle. The other victories, at Palace and at home to Stoke City and Burnley, now seem like aberrations in a season of rank disappointment even by our dismal recent standards.
And now, of all the teams we should have to beat to stave off relegation or at least make it look less likely, Southampton are the visitors to the Stadium of Light.
The “match” at St Mary’s was the first attended by Monsieur Salut after he began his hibernation in the UK, though the limp 1-0 defeat at QPR had been seen on a fleeting earlier visit.
A grand day out, pints with Pete Sixsmith and others at the harbourside before a short stroll in sunshine to the ground, someone went spectacularly wrong – starting with that spectacular volleyed own goal by Santiago Vergini just as we were looking the better side.
A week later, it seemed bizarre to be asked by a friend at the Arsenal home game what I had made of our penalty shout. When you’re tonked 8-0, and play for an hour as if you’ve never met the other team members of, indeed, tried this football game at all, it is surely clutching at straws top cry “but we were robbed”.
The more I have thought about it, though, the more merit the grievance has. Two-nil down, Fletcher cleaned out by their keeper Fraser Forster and the referee Andre Marriner (who else?) cheerfully waves play on rather than reducing the Saints to 10 and the deficit to one.
Saints fan will mock the thought, noting that 8-1 has a nice ring to it, too. But can we take revenge on Saturday or will the undeniably greater skills, better organisation and genuine confidence swat aside our best efforts? Seb Larsson shoud be back, which is comforting, and there’s just a chance that playing in red and white stripes instead of against them will help the direction of our passing.
Over to the Salut! Sunderland jury. Guess the score, win a mug if you’re the first to do so correctly before kickoff – Southampton fans very welcome to enter; a winner from their ranks would receive a mug with design appropriate to Saints allegiance – and try to to relax.
And if Bill Cowell must win yet again – guess who had 1-1 as the score at Stoke – let it for once be with a Sunderland-to-win forecast.