The manager might be feeling the pinch of the increased fines he is receiving for refusing to speak to the BBC. This new press embargo may be a symptom of that, or rather an understandable reaction to his comments about Torres being mis-reported.
• Sunderland blog: We murdered them 0-0!
Many have written about our inability to win away from home in the league this year but few people seem to take the time to look at the actual league table. We are still very much in touch at the top and four games that saw us defeated twice last season have us record four stalemates this term. That’s okay. Never in the history of modern football has a league season been decided after 18% of its fixtures have been completed. 2010/2011 will be no different on that score.
Berbatov and Macheda choose a bad time to play 'Heads, shoulders, knees and toes'.
Indeed, our opponents have been scoring against us, but the return of Rio Ferdinand has been an instant tonic to that problem. The more cynical amongst us will call it a temporary solution but the optimists will not be writing off Johnny Evans as a footballer just yet.
Dismissing Rooney’s continued absence as merely a ‘blip’ is looking increasingly delusional though. He is bearing all the hallmarks of a guy who is really struggling at the moment. “I’m only human” read yesterday’s unnecessary headlines. Not many 24-year-olds will have to carry the expectations of a nation on their shoulders and then be vilified as the intimate details of their personal lives are pored over in the public glare. There is an argument to say that he could do with a week or two on a beach far away from the madding crowd.
The supporters who travelled to Valencia midweek had more than just decent sangria to show for the experience. A second win on Spanish soil in eight years against the La Liga leaders is a tremendous result. As is understandable in the aftermath of a World Cup, this side has not got into gear yet and that result takes a lot of the pressure off us in Europe.
Six points against Bursaspor should see us through but we’ll need six in the next two league games as well to keep pace. Our next away game sees us take on the stubborn mule that is Stoke City, not the easiest place to record a victory, but something we need to do if Chelsea aren’t going to speed away.
At Stamford Bridge, egos don’t seem to have deflated much after the defeat Manchester City last week. A loss to Arsenal might just send them into a minor panic, but I doubt it’ll happen. Their form against the Gunners has been imperious over the last few years and you suspect Dider Drogba is capable of beating them on his own he is so used to it.
Although we are not in trouble yet, if our midfielders don’t start to fire away from Old Trafford and our defence doesn’t start getting more consistent, Fergie might well have something to say about it when we play at Chelsea in December. If we haven’t won an away game by then, we will look like lambs to the slaughter.
Follow Mark at twitter.com/markjpayne