In truth, the attitude predates the moneyed years of Roman Abramovich, whose £7.4 billion fortune puts him in second place (ie after Lakshmi Mittal) among the wealthiest characters in Britain. There was always a feeling that despite its fashionable name and location, there was something spivvy about the club. Going to the Bridge was almost always an unpleasant experience.
But has the time come to drop the kneejerk response to all things Blue?
It is worth remembering that what every Sunderland fan wants for the coming weekend – a morale boosting, midtable confirming victory over United would go a long way to ensuring the Premier League title goes to Stamford Bridge.
And would that be such a bad thing? Look at the season as a whole and it is not hard to argue that Chelsea have generally played the better, more entertaining football. Remove Rooney from the equation and there would be no reason to debate the point at all.
Both clubs ultimately disappointed in Europe. But somehow, it seems right that United will probably end the season with just the Carling Cup to show for their challenges for four trophies.
Chelsea, barring an upset to compare with Sunderland v Leeds in 1973 (brought about in large measure by Ian Porterfield, a player remembered fondly at both our clubs), will probably win a double by breaking Pompey hearts at Wembley on May 15.
We don’t actually have to start liking Chelsea very much. But after the demolition of Stoke, I cannot help recalling the gobby teenage girl in Blue who, as the goals mounted up in similarly alarming fashion against us, walked past Sunderland fans and offered the one-word advice: “Appreciate.”
Well, I wasn’t ready to appreciate much in the world of football on that particular day. But any team that dishes out seven-goal hammerings, in the space three months, to no fewer than three clubs supposedly occupying the same division has to have more to it than arrogance.
And on goal difference, Sunderland are not only now at the dizzy heights of 10th top – our owner’s target when the season began, remember. Thanks to Zenden and Bent, we are also top of the mini-league of teams crushed at the Bridge, ahead of Villa (goal difference -6) and Stoke (-7).
So if Chelsea’s title is clinched next weekend, courtesy of a win for us at the Stadium of Light and a win for them at Anfield, I will happily grant them a little appreciation.
With thanks for the Chelsea image to the Flickr pages of “Free-er”
* NB: a recent deluge of spam means comments from people who have not been this way and posted before will have to await moderation. Sorry.