Let us mix fun, competition and a sense or proportion. First, treat this as a Guess the Score posting: usual rules, as recently modified – if you are the first to predict the correct SAFC v Boro score at the end of normal plus any extra time, that is before a penalty shoot-out, you qualify for a free Martin O’Neill mug provided you buy one too*. Now for the sense of proportion …
Commonsense is like London taxis and buses, Salut! Sunderland‘s “Who are You?” candidates and rain. You wait for ages to see/find/get any and then loads arrive all at once.
Having rattled off a downbeat little piece for ESPN, and read Pete Sixsmith’s superb but depressing account of Saturday’s grim events of the Britannia, I fully expected either silence or more doom and gloom about Sunderland’s present lack of flair, creativity or threat.
Rude awakenings come in different forms. Mine started with a headline above a piece at Ready to Go by Sharkey’s Shadow, a supporter based in Canada: “Boring, boring Sunderland.”
The first sentence of the article maintained the theme: “Could we really be the most boring team in the history of the Premier League?”
Time to feel vindicated in my own sense of disillusion, the sort that makes it seem pointless to stay up for MoTD and “highlights” of a game you’ve missed? Er, no.
Sharkey’s Shadow, who turns out to be a fine writer, immediately disabused me of any notion that he shared my unease at a start to the season I described at ESPN as dull as dishwater.
This is how he answered his own opening question: “Well, after a half century of being little more than cannon-fodder in football’s top division I’d take that back-handed compliment in a heartbeat.”
And here is the killer sequence:
… to hell with how many shots we have taken or not taken and to hell, also, with what other fans may think or say. If we have to grind it out then we grind it out. If our more skillful players are off-form then they can at least track back and stop the other team from playing. If we only have one shot in a match then make that one shot count. And if you still want entertainment then look for a DVD of the play-off final against Charlton.
It is an excellent read. Rather than pilfer any more of it, I will direct Salut! Sunderland readers to the RTG link: http://www.readytogo.net/archives/002398.html?#ixzz2Alvu8y8q
But there has been plenty of the same commonsense on show here, too.
From Phil Johnson, ever farther away from the North East than Sharkey’s Shadow: “The first thing that Brian Clough addressed, at both Derby & Forest, was the defence, in order to make his sides hard to beat. MO’N, as a Cloughie disciple, has repeatedly done the same thing (apart from, maybe, at Celtic) and I think that our current situation appears to be mirroring his first season at Villa.”
One or two others developed Phil’s point, broadly agreeing with him while also allowing for the frustrations felt by many supporters.
Then this offering from John Briggs summed up the optimistic view to perfection:
At the start of the season we all would have accepted away draws with West Ham, Arsenal, Swansea,Stoke and home draws with Newcastle and Liverpool. We’d also have expected a home win with Wigan and an away defeat at Man City. So why do we find these results unacceptable after 8 games of season? Is it just because the entertainment value has been low? Would you rather lose 4-3 or draw 0-0? Let’s be honest here if SB was still in charge we would have probably lost the lot!
I believe MON is a very intelligent manager who has decided to get it right at the back first to make us hard to beat. That is working so far. Now he has to work further up the park and get the attack functioning. I for one believe he will do it, it may not be this side of xmas though, although I sincerely hope it is. Some fans also seem to forget we’ve only played 3 home games out of the 8 we’ve played,winning those 2 home game to even things up will leave us in a fairly strong position.
Most fans on the whole can see this but many are short sighted, the criticism of McClean and Johnson’s play on Saturday is an example. While both were poor in their forward play both worked hard for the team off the ball and in defensive positions, both were an integral part of not conceding a goal.
No apologies for repeating words already published here and elsewhere. It is important that they are seen and digested. The thread from which John’s comments were drawn can be seen in full at https://safc.blog/2012/10/sixers-soapboxstoke-0-sunderland-0-purgatory-in-the-potteries.
He ended, as I do, by hoping the week now develops, starting tonight, in a more heartening fashion. Ha’way the Lads versus Boro and then Villa.
There is likely to be a delay following the Capital One Cup game in publishing Pete Sixmith’s seven-word instant verdict and Martin O’Neill’s post-match e-mail.
Do not wait for them to appear if you have something you wish to get off your chest about the way the game has gone. Post your score prediction now – even if you do so only in fun and have no wish to receive two mugs for the price of one – and return to this article to comment on the outcome … at least until Sixer’s Sevens and Martin’s Musings present more appropriate platforms.
* The Buy One/Win One format will continue until Salut! Sunderland finds a prize sponsor for the competition or comes up with a better way of limiting the cost. In the unlikely event of a Boro supporter not only predicting the correct score but also wanting two MON mugs, the design will be amended accordingly
** HOW BORO fans – including one whose first game was on Boxing Day 1946 and another with fascinating Brian Clough memories – view tonight’s game. Two more gems from the Who are You? series – https://safc.blog/?cat=23