soccernet blog
April 29, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/29/2011

For those who like me who spend a lot of time in the US and follow many Premiership games on Fox Soccer channel, it is frustrating to hear the colonial commentators, who just do not cannot hack the proper football terminology. Calling a draw a “tie”, a penalty kick a “PK” and describing a shot onto the bar as “hitting the frame” does just not do it for me or any other Expat Brits watching “soccer”. Fox is a Sky Sports feed so why don’t they just listen to the English commentators and learn about the game we invented and gave to the world?! End of rant – for now...

April 23, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/23/2011

Sunderland were able to name an unchanged team for once after the slightly more encouraging performance last week against Birmingham. Could The Lads dig deep finally turn it all round with a win over struggling Wigan at the Stadium of Light? Major injuries to Richardson, Mensah, Bramble, Gordon, Campbell dictated the home line-up:
Sunderland: Mignolet, Elmohamady, Turner, Onuoha, Bardsley, Henderson, Cattermole, Colback, Sessegnon, Gyan, Welbeck. Subs: Carson, Zenden, Malbranque, Muntari, Riveros, Meyler, Ferdinand
Wigan: Al Habsi, Gohouri, Alcaraz, McCarthy, Gary Caldwell, Watson, N'Zogbia, Cleverley, Boyce, Rodallega, Diame. Subs:Kirkland, Thomas, Di Santo, Moses, Gomez, Sammon, Stam
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)
There was further heartbreak for Steve Bruce and the home fans after just 10 min. as Phil Bardsley was stretchered off with what appeared to be a neck injury. Just 15 minutes later there was another forced substitution when Danny Welbeck pulled up. Ferdinand and Malbranque stepped up to the plate, but these were the major incidents in the first half which was short of goalmouth action, but nobody at the SSOL could have expected what came in the next 45, which were nothing short of sensational for the home team. There was a torrent of goals which ended the drought in spectacular fashion.

April 22, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/22/2011

What makes a top team? Is there a magic ingredient, or set of ingredients that distinguish a team that consistently challenges at the top compared to one of the also-rans? Why are Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City and presumably Liverpool confident of finishing in the top six of the world’s best league year after year? It is surely not just their excellent resources, is it something to do with momentum?

April 11, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/11/2011

41,586 fans assembled in hope at the SSOL, optimistic that Sunderland would end their terrible run and prevail against newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion, just like I was. The positives: we scored twice! The negatives: the defence was unsteady, not quite at a chocolate teapot level, but the team slipped to another morale-sapping defeat.

This was at best a mediocre performance, with a few patches of good play thrown in. Where do we go from here? I and other fans have been asking that question too often recently. The club has an injury-depleted squad, there are not enough leaders out there on the pitch driving the team on, and morale is clearly low. Psychology is so important at this level.

April 9, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/09/2011

Today’s match-up against West Bromwich Albion is another opportunity then for the battered Sunderland players to turn things around. One point from the last 21 tells its own story, and injuries have been a big factor. A win would be great for morale, to end this miserable losing streak, but since Roy Hodgson started applying his managerial experience to this week’s opponents they have proved “hard to beat”. A win for West Brom. would give them a double over the Black Cats; that disappointing early 0-1 reverse at the Hawthorns was the Cats’ first defeat of the season.

April 3, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/03/2011

Sunderland’s tough away game at Man City brought the following team selections:

Sunderland: Mignolet, Bardsley, Turner, Mensah, Ferdinand, Cattermole, Henderson, Muntari, Sessegnon, Gyan, Welbeck. Subs: Gordon, Zenden, Malbranque, Colback, Elmohamady, Adams, Lynch.
Man City: Hart, Boyata, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, Toure Yaya, De Jong, Silva, Adam Johnson, Tevez, Balotelli. Subs: Taylor, Milner, Wright-Phillips, Dzeko, Barry, Vieira, McGivern.
Referee: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire)

The Cats fans were happy to see Michael Turner make his competitive return to the Premiership, and this is a new starting midfield line-up. City gave a rare start to Adam Johnson.

April 2, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 04/02/2011

The clash with City is a difficult game, with Sunderland on a terrible run at the moment. Bad runs happen to all teams once in a season, but this is a particularly torrid time for Black Cats fans. The question is, do we want games to come up quickly in succession, or do we prefer a break between games so that the team can try to get their act together? We have no choice, of course, but I for one hope the team are in better shape psychologically now that they have licked their wounds and key players like Campbell and Turner are back in contention after long-term injuries.

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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