It is the fourth Thursday of November so maybe already too late for turkeys in the US to take cover. They tend not to approve of Thanksgiving. Robert Simmons, Salut! Sunderland’s US contributor, will presumably be tucking into the roast and also the pecan pie (sounds ike another bird but isn’t). First, he has some thanks of his own to direct towards the Stadium of Light …
One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. It’s a real shame that the rest of the world doesn’t get to share this one with America. Now I won’t say that the origins of this holiday are all worth celebrating, but I’m a huge fan of family gatherings, big meals, and being thankful.
Since most of my friends and family don’t share my love of Sunderland, I decided to make this Sunderland specific thankful list just for the SalutSunderland readers.
* I’m thankful for Martin O’Neill. The turnaround he brought to the club was nothing short of remarkable. We are obviously suffering a slight dip in form, but I have no doubts that he is the man to lead the club. Ellis Short has done us all a huge favor by placing his trust in O’Neill.
* I’m thankful for Simon Mignolet, who I would argue has been our player of the season so far. He has almost single-handedly kept us competitive in almost every single match this season. I don’t think his brilliance is such a secret anymore, and hopefully we can sign him on long-term.
* Our captain, Lee Cattermole, has been nothing short of brilliant this season. Just consider this stat from Chris Weatherspoon of RokerReport. “With Lee Cattermole on the field, Sunderland have conceded once every 144.25 minutes in the league this season (or, roughly, every one and a half games). Without him, they have conceded once every 51.625 minutes (or, almost every half!).”
* How outstanding has Danny Rose been this season? I was skeptical of his signing when we brought him in on loan, and now I hope we do all we can to make his move permanent. He’s said all the right things about loving his time on Wearside, and he’s hardly put in a foot wrong on the pitch this season so far.
* The signings of Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson last summer signaled the intent of the club to establish itself as a top half contender. Unfortunately it hasn’t been a smooth transition for Johnson, but I’m thankful to have such quality players want to sign for Sunderland and I’m hopeful that last week at Fulham showed some of the things we have to look forward to from our new signings.
* On top of the summer signings, I’m grateful that Sessegnon and Cattermole pledged their future to the club by signings new contracts. The longer we keep the core of our club together the better we are going to be going forward. With each passing game it’s clear that these two players are essential to the success of Sunderland.
So Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I’m celebrating this year surrounded by family, eating huge meals, and getting ready to watch the lads take on West Brom this weekend!
See Monsieur Salut’s contributions to the ESPN Soccernet pages: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/610?cc=5739