April 30, 2010
Some say that mid-table obscurity is what a team has if there is nothing to play for at the end of the season. Well, I am happy to swap the “excitement” of the last 2 seasons, both spent flirting with relegation, with what has ended up with comfortable mid-table position in the best league in the world. We can still make 9th by catching this season’s surprise package Birmngham City.
That dire 14 game winter winless run showed that Sunderland, despite record transfer spending, could still fall foul to injuries and low morale. Playing 17 different back fours in a season tells its own story, but on the bright side, having up to 9 players out for some of those games at least gave an opportunity for Henderson and Meyler to shine, and show that Bruce is planning for the future. Great news that both these young lads have signed 5-year contracts!
This week the Black Cats have loaned out Marton Fulop to Man City, to help with their keeper crisis, after Shay Given was seriously injured at Arsenal last Sunday. That shows what a fair and decent manager Steve Bruce is. Most ex-Man. Utd. players would not even breathe in the direction of Man. City (with the notable exceptions of Denis Law and Carlos Tevez!). Ironically, Given showed what a great keeper he was when on loan with Sunderland from Blackburn in 1996 under Peter Reid.
This week also saw Darren Bent crowned the fans’ Player of the Year – so well deserved for an incredible season of sharp and consistent finishing – the guy is a legend already, and only 26! He can now look back at that Spurs Twitter and Rednapp’s insults with an ironic laugh.
I will preview Sunday’s sure sell-out against Man. United in my next blog, and given Sunderland’s record against the top teams at the SSOL this season, an upset may well be on the cards.
©Lars J.S. Knutsen