Sunderland fans have a proud history, with 6 League Championships and 2 FA Cup wins behind us, maybe a bit too far behind us…but we also have a sense of humour! The “With all due respect to Wigan” line from my last entry came from a Monday Night Club discussion on Radio 5 Live and I for one found it quite humorous. And for all that Sunderland fans have had to endure at times, especially in terms of winless runs, we need a sense of humour! We like to joke with away fans, and when we travel to grounds that have limited capacity, the old “My Garden Shed” song comes out: “My garden shed, my garden shed, my garden shed, my garden shed, my garden shed is bigger than this, it's got a door and a window, my garden shed is bigger than this!” That song is sung as a joke, it is football banter, not to be taken literally and just like my last blog, it should be taken with a pinch of salt!
Following my last treatise an anonymous Wigan fan suggested “You talk as though you're a big club, like newcastle are, but I'm sure it wasnt to long ago that you were playing championship football while the latics were still in the prem, have a bit of respect yeh?” and another who gave his name said: “Not a Wigan cast off, pal. We would keep him if we could. Why would he want to go to play for a bunch of cast offs? He will follow Bent and play for Villa rather that a manger who wouldnt know youth if it hit him in his big face” (spelling errors retained).
This in turn brought the following retort from a fellow Black Cat: “To the two Wigan fans... Firstly, Newcastle were in the championship just the other season, so even by your own comment how can they be bigger than us now? It's a fact that you barely stayed in the Prem. while we finished 10th, it's not a case of showing you no respect! Also, Sunderland had the youngest average side in the Premiership last season... How does Bruce not recognise youth? That comment is beyond me.” I am sure Wigan do have more than two fans, BTW...
And when Newc**tle fans call Sunderland “the Village of the Damned” we don’t quote the fact that the boundaries of Sunderland and population make it a bigger city than Newc**stle, we just laugh and get back at them by singing “We beat the Scum 2-1” or by calling them the “deluded barcodes” from across the river! None of this is of course serious, but to be honest there have been a few titters heard around the SSOL since Mike Ashley bought the club, and since Christmas they seem to have been selling their best players and not necessarily replacing them with like-for-like talent. So when reading the following from Luke Edwards in the Telegraph it seems like more of the same:
Enrique has launched a stinging attack on his employers Newcastle United for the lack of ambition they have shown under owner Mike Ashley. Enrique was offered a new contract by Newcastle United two months ago, but has refused to sign it and has made it clear he wants to leave this summer. But, having been prevented from speaking to the media since the close of the January transfer window, the former Villareal player used Twitter to air his grievances, insisting the club will never again challenge for honours because of the board's parsimonious approach.
"They don't want spend in the club and bring quality players, that's why everybody (wants to) go," said Enrique. “The club has allowed all the major players in the team to leave, Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan etc. Seriously, do you think this is the fault of the players?
"This club will never fight again to be among the top six with this policy. "They tell lies all the time. They have not offered me more money. They have offered me the same money I am on now. But it is not about money.
"I think you fans are the best and you deserve the best, not what they are doing with the club. Thanks to everyone for supporting me."
Telegraph Sport understands Enrique, who is in America with Newcastle on a pre-season tour, was quickly summoned to a meeting with manager Alan Pardew, who is said to have been "furious" with the player.
Newcastle sources have indicated the player will face severe disciplinary action, although it remains to be seen whether it hastens his exit out of St James' Park. Although Enrique, who has one year left on his contract, has made it clear he wants to go, Newcastle claim they have not received a bid, despite long-standing interest from Liverpool. Enrique's comments, though, have stirred up resentment among some fans unhappy at the failure to re-invest all of the £35m they received from Liverpool for Carroll in January, in new players. Managing Director Derek Llambias has publicly assured fans none of that money will leave the club, although their net spend on transfer fees this summer is just £500,000.
Having a team owned by a burnt-out shopkeeper who is constantly looking to sell the club, is not a recipe for success. In a perverse sort of way, I like it when Newcastle are doing reasonably well because it provides good rivalry and keeps Sunderland Football Club on its toes. It is good for the North East when all three top teams are doing well, as long as Sunderland are on top, of course…and despite our Halloween hammering at St. James’ in 2010, that how it finished last season. I just do not understand why Kevin Nolan was sold to West Ham, but his relationship with former manager and Sunderland centre-back Sam Allardyce must have been strong.
More of the same, then, hopefully, with both clubs up a few places next year. It felt a bit lonely in the Prem. in 2009-10 with both Boro’ and the Scum out of the division. More success, more banter…all due respect to Wigan, especially when they play us…and may the football gods stop them producing the sort of performance that gave them that 1-0 win at White Hart Lane, which ultimately kept them in the top division in 2010-11! One respects any team that plays good football, and on that day, they played superbly.
©Lars J.S. Knutsen
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