When Liverpool rained heavily on the Ellis Short parade

Oh dear. Safc.com was proud as punch to announce that Ellis Short was about to give one of his rare interviews.

And the day we lost 2-0 in utterly deflating fashion at home to Liverpool was the day he chose to deliver a message some Sunderland supporters would now regard as ridiculously upbeat.

“We will be doing everything we can to win those games,” he said of the four remaining home ties after Liverpool: WBA, Bolton, Wigan and Fulham, stressing the need for big crowds. “We are not looking behind us any more at what can happen at the end of the season. We are looking ahead at how far up the table we can climb.”

He also spoke of the match he was about to watch.

It was to be played in front of a near-full house but broadcast internationally {and legally) so that the world would see a packed stadium with passionate supporters. We know what happened next: a damp squib, our fans reduced to silence and early exit when a bright start evaporated, with a little help from abysmal match officials, into abject surrender.

Short’s words were noble all the same. You can see his interview for yourself here. Here was a man reminding the Sunderland-supporting world that the progress already made over the past two years had changed us from yo-yo to established Premier League club.

And what was important, more for the atmosphere and potential for intimidating opposing teams than for the money, was to get full houses for those games at the Stadium of Light.

Fat chance, the cynic would say after Sunday, of that.

Look at the league table. Ninth top. The top six are virtually out of sight but it’s otherwise quite respectable until you see how few points separate us from the bottom three. SIx from third-bottom Wolves, seven from second-bottom Birmingham City, eight from foot-of-the table Wigan.

We’ve taken one point in 18, We’re away at Man City next. Roll on the supposedly easy run-in that follows but which includes playing all of those strugglers – and others just above them – just as they are scrapping as hard as they can for points

But I still refuse to believe results can conspire to put us in serious trouble. We’ve already got 38 points for heaven’s sake; how many, beyond the usual 40, do you actually need, even this season? Long years, decades of supporting Sunderland make me a natural pessimist but even I cannot accept that we will will not finish higher than last season’s 13th, though it may not now be much higher.

I hope, as Short insists is the case, that this is a club on the right track, one that will never be relegated again but can look forward to an improving and regular “well into the top 10” existence.

But Pete Sixsmith was right to say in yet another excellent matchday report: “We are beginning to get a wee bit worried.”

And while Short is right to praise Steve Bruce’s achievements, he must surely be wondering why massive investment has still not produced a team of consistency and – following the bizarre saga of Bent Out No Striker In – firepower.

These pages could be filled with the wisdom that has streamed from the Blackcats e-mail loop since the defeat against Liverpool.

But since part of the reason Short gave his interview was to support Niall Quinn’s plea for full or at least fuller stadiums, we will select these striking words from a man who describes himself as a Scouse Mackem:

As usual, I watched this game in the company of my son’s father in law in the Liverpool Supporters’ club. Fresh from their European loss, the supporters who even ventured out to the club this afternoon to watch our surrender to an eminently beatable team were all of the same opinion … why pay to watch crap when we can see crap every day on the telly for nothing. Even paying for Sky Sports Crap is cheaper than paying your entrance fee to watch Real Life Live Crap. So it ain’t just Niall who is crying about losing seats in the stadium … it’s endemic in the game, when Liverpool supporters complain about having to pay to watch their team perform (or not perform).

Amid all this misery, which a complete turnaround against Man City would once more turn to joy, let us hear Ellis Short one more time.

There have been ups as well as down, he said – “soundly beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge”, injury time goals to draw against Arsenal and beat Man City, the way we played at home to Man Utd and the sight and sound of our “tremendous away support singing at the top of their lungs” after the battling draw at the Emirates.

“It’s a great club, with great support, we’re all going to do our best,” he said. “Not sure what we can achieve but we wil try our hardest to have a team that’s good, hard to beat, respected in the football world and one that we can all be proud to support.”


Monsieur Salut

Share this post
Next Post