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Sunderland
August 20, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 08/20/2012

The big question on the opening day was could Sunderland, after their less than impressive pre-season, make an impression against a potentially demoralised Arsenal? The North Londoners seem to be making a habit of selling their best players, and have moved their captain on in each of the last 3 seasons.

August 7, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 08/07/2012

We have less than 4 weeks to go to attract new firepower to the club in this transfer window, and I do really like the idea of Wolves’ Steven Fletcher joining us, after news of today's improved £12M bid for the Scotsman. He has always done well against Sunderland, he is a proven goalscorer, and he seems to have the right temperament, interacting well with his team-mates

July 24, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 07/24/2012

What is it with Sunderland and strikers these days? And I don’t mean the ones who may hold them up in passport control as they return from the Peace Cup in South Korea.

The love-hate relationship with Asamoah Gyan ended a few days ago, with the club recouping their outlay as he signed for Al-Ain in the UAE. I do feel let down by the guy and his agent, as he was part of one of our most dramatic wins in recent times, the November 2010 3-0 rout of Chelsea.

But former manager Steve Bruce ultimately lost his job by not being able to provide consistent goalscoring in the first team, which along with the Darren Bent saga, resulted in what was a real slump for the team in 10 of the 12 months of 2011.

June 17, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 06/17/2012

It’s been a while, and I suppose we are all still recovering in some way from the amazing last day of the Premiership season, despite the start of the Euros coming round in what seemed like no time at all.

I am long enough in the tooth to remember Manchester City’s last top-level title in 1968. I was very young, but that amazing final day also stuck in my memory, as Sunderland won 2-1 at Old Trafford and the Blues won 4-3 at a place that was then called St. James' Park, Newcastle. Such days really stick in the mind, when The Lads made sure that the title did not go to the Reds. We did not have such media intensity in those days, but it was still memorable.

May 13, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 05/13/2012

Tomorrow is a huge day for the Premiership in what has been a very exciting season. To have the title decided on the last day is always something special. It is all just about over in the Blues' favour.

Let me first say that I much prefer Man. City to Man. Utd. City to me are just nicer, they have style, and when they lose, they lose with grace. Their rise to the top has been momentous. Their rivals have won too much, and Ferguson is of course talented but arrogant. How, you may ask, has this affected Sunderland? Well in my memory it goes back in part to the way he unsettled a very gifted French striker, David Bellion, who scored his first senior goal for the Black Cats against Aston Villa in September 2002, as related in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bellion). After a game United won at the SSOL in October 2002, Ferguson complimented Bellion after he had come on as a substitute.

Following that Bellion completely lost interest in playing for the Black Cats, and went AWOL to France at a time when the team needed him most. Upon returning, Bellion claimed he had been visiting his sick grandmother, and made himself temporarily unavailable for selection, claiming he was "mentally unfit" to be playing in a relegation battle. At the time, speculation was rife that the Frenchman had been "tapped up" by United, and sure enough he agreed a move to the "Red Devils" after his contract expired in June 2003. Luckily, Bellion was under the age of 23, and Sunderland was eligible for compensation, the clubs eventually agreeing a fee of £2 million out of court. Even former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein claimed Bellion had been offered to Arsenal by his agent illegally and that United had been paying for Bellion's mobile phone bills whilst still at Sunderland.

You could fault the star-struck player for never really seriously kicking a ball again for Sunderland, but I put the blame firmly at the door of Alex Ferguson, who unsettled a talent that Sunderland had unearthed, and the Scotsman essentially transformed him into an ineffective wreck, in a season when the Black Cats just avoided relegation. These sleaze-ball tactics have made him less popular than such a hugely successful manager should be.

May 5, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 05/05/2012

Sunderland made the surprise choice of Craig Gordon as keeper, and he put in a creditable performance, and was blameless for the visitors’ two goals. Cattermole returned, and came away with his usual booking. Our line-up was 01 Gordon, 02 Bardsley, 04 Turner, 12 Kilgallon (Bridge - 82'), 16 O'Shea, 06 Cattermole, 14 Colback, 23 McClean, 28 Sessegnon, 09 Campbell, (Elmohamady - 72'), 52 Bendtner.

Bolton made the short trip north, recalling Kevin Davies in this team: 01 Bogdan, 18 Ricketts, 25 Boyata, 31 Wheater, 32 Ream, 07 Eagles (Miyaichi - 64'), 10 Petrov, 16 M Davies, 19 Reo-Coker (Vela - 78'), 14 K Davies, 24 Ngog (Klasnic - 64').

April 28, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/28/2012

The result of today’s game will depend on 3 factors: who wants it more, which Sunderland team shows up, the one that demolished QPR and almost won at Man. City and how the new midfield functions for the Black Cats.

Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill will be without several key players. Midfielder Craig Gardner is suspended following his sending-off at Aston Villa, while Kieran Richardson and Sebastian Larsson both went under the knife this week for hernias and miss the rest of the season. Skipper Lee Cattermole could return to the midfield, after battling a persistent knee problem; he is subject to a late fitness test. We still of course have defenders Brown and Bramble missing.

April 27, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/27/2012

The game vs. Aston Villa on Saturday was a solid performance from Sunderland. Aside from the first 10 minutes the team rarely looked like conceding, and the goal by Bendtner that was disallowed for offside would have been given on most other days. I also felt that James McLean has been off colour recently, and he was also wasting chances in this crucial match. There is no doubt that Martin O’Neill’s comments after the game were right on the money, and we should have won the game.

I feel sorry for Villa, and sympathise with the situation they are in. They have had to sell some very good players such as Ashley Young and Stuart Downing. The injury to key players Darren Bent was devastating for them, and I do not blame them for signing our top striker. I still blame him for walking, though. The Petrov situation is obviously also hanging over them.

April 21, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/21/2012

The big question for Saturday is: will Sunderland pull themselves out of their collective funk and win at Aston Villa? Craig Gardner and manager Martin O’Neill both have incentives to impress against their old club – and so does Phil Bardsley, who had 13 games with them under O’Neill in a loan deal when the Scottish International was at Man. Utd.
Sunderland are likely to be without our talismanic captain Lee Cattermole, but on the positive side John O'Shea may return to the team for the first time in a month, with Matt Kilgallon possibly making way for the Irish defender.

Apparently our chairman and owner Ellis Short has set manager Martin O'Neill the target of a top-6 finish in the Premier League next season. This will require some investment, especially in our strike force, but it does not sound too crazy when one considers we just had 2 wins up to the Northern Irishman’s arrival in December.

April 16, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/16/2012

For Saturday's game the weather was quite warm, but there was a strong wind and the players were showing signs of perspiration rather than inspiration.

Sunderland welcomed back Richardson and Bendtner, in the following line-up: 22 Mignolet, 02 Bardsley, 04 Turner, 11 Richardson, 12 Kilgallon, 07 Larsson, 08 Gardner (Campbell - 78'), 14 Colback, 23 McClean, 28 Sessegnon, 52 Bendtner.

Wolves came to scrap, as their season would have been over with a defeat. It’s pretty well over for them anyway, and that can have a positive effect on a team, when the tension goes and the pressure is off. We forget that Wolves won their first three games this season, and they have been a bogey side to Sunderland in the past couple of years.

They featured: 01 Hennessey, 05 Stearman, 11 Ward, 16 Berra, 32 Foley (Zubar - 82'), 07 Kightly (Edwards - 76'), 08 Henry, 26 Davis, 37 Forde (Jarvis - 61'), 09 Ebanks-Blake, 10 Fletcher.

About
Lars Knutsen Lars Knutsen was born in Sunderland of Norwegian parents across the Wear from the SSOL back when shipbuilding not car manufacture was the city’s main industry. His first game was in 1968 and he has followed the Black Cats since then, with great memories of the 1973 FA Cup. He hopes the “yo-yo” days are over and defines supporting a team by whether the result affects your mood (but maybe not in the way portrayed in the book “Fever Pitch”!) so has been cheerful recently. He endured school in Newc**tle, has a Ph.D. in Chemistry, a Professorship at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, and works in the Pharma industry as a consultant Medicinal Chemist.

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