We can blame living too far away (me), not fancying a midweek game (many), being cross after Hull (many, I’d guess), Northumbria Police for demanding that contemptible late change of date (a few).
But however we look at it, and whatever excuses we dig out, 15,966 is an embarrassing attendance for a game that brings the possibility of Wembley a step closer. We had much more for a couple of reserve games a few seasons back. Or is it just that we couldn’t care less about the league cup, with or without a desperate relegation battle on our hands?
This is from my ESPNFC.con article published at http://espnfc.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/2343?cc=5739. If you fancy a say, here or at ESPN, you know the drill …
A penny for Poyet’s innermost thoughts? Even that would surely be an extravagant outlay to determine which of the two home games against Chelsea, within a fortnight of each other in December, he more passionately wants Sunderland to win. Sunderland’s owner, Ellis Short, appointed him to keep the team up, not to win the league cup. Win both games by all means, but the greater importance rests with the need for three points on December 4.
Other supporters appear to agree with me. With fewer than 16,000 in the stands, the Stadium of Light takes on a deserted look. It was a pathetic attendance for any first-team game, all the more so given the bait that a win would take Sunderland to within two games of a place in the final.
A part was played by the inexcusably crass handling of matchday arrangements by the authorities, from Northumbria Police to the club’s safety advisory group, that led to the fixture being “confirmed” for Oct. 30 only to be changed — without the least consideration for fans making non-flexible plans for travel and accommodation — to avoid a clash with Newcastle’s home tie on the same evening. Nothing had altered in the 10 days between first decision and about-turn; the police had always argued against playing the game on the original date.
But that alone does not explain so paltry a turnout. It is easy for me to say that if I still lived in the North-East, I would have been there. I do not, and never seriously contemplated a 550-mile midweek round trip. There was no mainstream television coverage but thousands of others did not even consider it worth a quick hop on the bus for Gus.