The goalless deadlock last Saturday at Fulham did not really entertain the vast army of travelling fans, especially in the first half. So what can we take from this game? Further evidence of Sunderland’s resolve and determination not to be beaten is the main message. For example, a potential turning point in the game came when our born-again centre-back Ferdinand had to be substituted after a hamstring injury after just 10 minutes. Without a decent squad of adaptable defenders, this would have been another injury disaster for the Black Cats, but on Saturday Bruce’s strategy was to bring in El Mouhamady to take over at right back, and to move Nedum Onuoha to centre-back alongside John Mensah, aka The Rock. And the team did fight hard for another clean sheet.
Simon Mignolet proved himself yet again as an excellent stand-in for Craig Gordon, who along with Asamoah Gyan was an injury doubt before the game. The Belgian shot-stopper made several excellent saves, including one from a classic goalmouth scramble in the last quarter. It was clear, though, that Fulham missed England striker although Andy Johnson was valiantly trying to fill the gap.
So a stalemate away from home against a team with a very good record at Craven Cottage was a result which was probably not unexpected on the basis of recent history between the sides – now 1 goal in the last 3 meetings. A little more stealth and self-belief from The Lads and we could have come away with all 3 points, but with Darren Bent looking strangely off-colour and Gyan showing he is human after all, this was probably a fair result, Welbeck cannot always carry the attack himself. How many times has it been said “Win your home games and get a point away, and you will be doing OK?” This precise sentiment was reflected by BBC Radio Newcastle summarizer and Sunderland legend Gary Bennett.
A word about Sunderland’s away support – the radio and TV commentators often suggest that it will a happy/sad journey up the A1 for the Sunderland fans. But these days Mackems are spread right through the country, with for example a well-organised London Branch of the SAFCSA. The trend is that once students from Sunderland go and study away from Wearside, they rarely return to the North East. So basically, we are spread all through the country, especially in the SE of England. I am sure that my old school friend Phil Clarkson, the ticket office manager at the Stadium of Light, can confirm what % of the allocations for away games are sold to addresses away from the team’s home city. I find going to away games is a great way to catch up with old friends and to see a decent game of football, and there is nothing like being part of the Red and White Army, driving the team on with our vocal support.
©Lars J.S. Knutsen
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