October 30, 2010
This is why we follow football, for games like this. Derby games are huge matches, in an area of the world that is football-mad, and we all have great memories from our favourite Wear-Tyne battles. My best are from those two Quinn/Phillips-inspired 2-1 wins at St. James in 1999 and 2000 - see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-_NOH2X05w and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lgvunhc-My4&feature=related - stunning goals as well as great times for the Red and White Army! Since the two cities are separated by less than 16 miles, and with towns and residential areas in between where supporters are mixed, bragging rights are so very important. The scum, aka the deluded barcodes, as the opposition are known to Sunderland fans, come into the game on the back of a decent win at West Ham.
October 25, 2010
I am sure I speak for a lot of people when suggesting that I feel I have seen enough of the craggy face of Alex Ferguson this week. You could say the week ended well for the guy; Man. Utd. won at Stoke and Rooney is on a new 5-year contract. Too many lines have already been written about the talented striker who has been throwing the toys out of his pram to get what he wanted, a higher salary and a potential £100M investment of new players at the club.
What, you may ask, does this have to do with Sunderland? Well 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). United won at the SSOL in October 2002, and Ferguson complimented Bellion after he had come on as a substitute.
October 23, 2010
Make no mistake, this was a hard-fought win decided by the unlucky Richard Dunne who forced the ball past his own keeper at the near post after 25 minutes. That is now 8 Premier League own goals for the unfortunate Irishman, who did manage to get his act together to produce a sound second-half performance, with a superb intervention to dispossess Darren Bent in the box late on. Villa are an excellent side, but they have been stuttering away from home. The Midlanders were looking to score on the break, and had a period of dominance in the middle of the second half, but this just was not their day in front of goal. The possession ratio of 66% to the home side, although favourable, does not tell the full story; again it was the Black Cats’ defence that performed outstandingly to record their third consecutive clean sheet. The Lads had a great first half, and managed to avoid the 6 consecutive draws record, but I would personally be extremely happy to see this defence challenge the run of 6 games without conceding a goal which Sunderland set in the top division around Christmas 1982 (see http://www.thestatcat.co.uk/Mseasons/MSG104.asp - by the way an excellent source of Sunderland Stats).
October 21, 2010
The solid performance by Sunderland in the 0-0 stalemate at Ewood Park on Monday night did leave a couple of unanswered questions about the tactics employed by the Black Cats. There is no question that Sunderland had the better chances in what was a rain-effected game, but I agree with Eric Black in his conclusion that the team lacked guile in trying to break down 10-man Blackburn in the second half (http://www.sunderlandecho.com/sport/sunderland-afc/safc-news/black_we_lacked_guile_1_2164594) when Blackburn put up solid resistance. What the supporters may have questioned is why Steve Bruce waited until the last third of the game to bring on a second true striker, Asamoah Gyan.
October 16, 2010
Results on Saturday have conspired to leave The Lads in 14th place just ahead of our Monday night opponents Blackburn on goal difference, both with with 8 points. This was partly due to Newcastle forcing a late comeback in a 2-2 draw with Wigan, so Newcastle are currently one point ahead of us, having played one game more.
I was not surprised to see them struggle against an improving Wigan who have made great progress after their nightmare start to the season, but still carry a minus 9 goal difference; overall the point Sunderland gained there with 10 men on our last visit to Lancashire now looks like a decent outcome.
October 11, 2010
So with no games this week in the English Premiership, this fixture break gives a chance to reflect on the season so far. In the Premiership we have Chelsea in pole position, but they have not looked unassailable, possibly because they have not played any in-form teams, aside from Man. City at Eastlands. Arsenal played quite well last week at Stamford Bridge, but did not take their chances. As a caller to the Radio 5 606 phone-in said, there is a rectangular thing at the end of the pitch, where the ball is meant to go if you want to win games. Pretty approach work does not count in the end. Overall that game was an example of Chelsea’s power wearing Arsenal down, and the blues scoring two great goals, and impressing overall.
October 3, 2010
This is one of the many great quotes from Bill Shankly, and it perfectly described Sunderland’s performance against Manchester United on Saturday. Radio 5 reported that Sunderland held Man Utd to a 0-0 draw, but in fact it was the other way round!
There was again an autumnal chill, this time running through Sunderland’s ranks, who have shown a cool determination to succeed against the top clubs. And I for one put this performance ahead of the excellent 2-2 draw at Old Trafford last season. The first half was total domination by the Black Cats, with Cattermole, Malbranque and Zenden bossing Scholes and Fletcher in the middle of the field.