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November 30, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 11/30/2011

On this week’s Radio 5 Live Monday Night Club, there was obviously a lot of speculation about Steve Bruce’s future, and BBC pundit Steve Claridge suggested that the Sunderland manager would have been sacked that same day, but out of respect for Gary Speed’s memory and legacy, he would be spared for a while. So on Wednesday the axe finally fell.

November 27, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 11/27/2011

This game started so promisingly for Sunderland, but ended in unmitigated disaster. Unlike me, Steve Bruce, the Sunderland boss down played the importance of needing a victory against Wigan ahead of the game: "If we win it, we go into the top 10, probably, and what's all the fuss about?"

True enough, Stevie, but the problem is that a defeat could, depending on results, have seen the team in the bottom three by the final whistle. Meanwhile Roberto Martinez called on his basement side to stop relying on star players to pull them out of trouble: "We shouldn't put individuals under too much pressure to get the results. With just one win so far, they need someone to do something."

November 25, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 11/25/2011

There was not too much of note to report from the Sunderland vs. Fulham game last weekend when the Cottagers frustrated Sunderland at the SSOL. Obviously, as a fan I also felt frustrated by the two times Sunderland hit the bar through a Kieran Richardson header after 8 min. and an excellent shot by Jack Colback on the quarter hour, but Fulham also had their chances. Dembele tested Westwood early on and the Irish keeper had to grateful to Lee Cattermole who cleared off the line at the very end of the first half after an Etuhu header.

November 18, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 11/18/2011

Many analyses of the Premiership, including my own, show around 3 mini-leagues; one at the top for the Champion’s League slots, a white underbelly of teams in the middle of the table who are not quite in the top echelon, and the bottom 6-8 teams fighting relegation. The lower 3rd is where Sunderland find themselves at the moment; after what has been called a “mixed” start to the season – 2 wins and 4 draws in 11 tell its own story of what might have been. OK, we are not the only ambitious team which is suffering – Everton are there also, but it still feels uncomfortable.

November 14, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 11/14/2011

The problem with a game of football is that a narrow 1-0 defeat where your team plays well provides the same points yield as a 5-0 defeat, i.e. zero. And however well Sunderland played at Old Trafford, that is how the record boos will see it, another defeat. I sincerely hope that after 30 games of this Premiership season I will not be writing “another morale-sapping defeat”. We have lost 5 of our first 11 games this season, and desperately need to get a couple of wins under their belt to clear any anxiety at being in the bottom 6 of the best league in the world. The own goal from Wes Brown after a well-struck corner from the right at the end of the first half was enough to condemn The Lads to this reverse in an evenly-matched game.

November 5, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 11/05/2011

I remember the last league win at Old Trafford really clearly – I was very young and had recently been to my first Sunderland home game, by cycling to Roker Park. The climax of the 1967-8 season was upon us and Sunderland were clear of relegation, having won 4 times and drawn 4 on their travels, and got the points in 8 home games – the team were on 45 points in the modern, 3-points for a win parlance. The magic of that day on my young consciousness was also that Man. City were at Newcastle. Sunderland were expected just to roll over and let Man. Utd. just win the league, since Best, Charlton and Law were in that great team, with Man. City expected to be runners-up. Well, Sunderland stunned the Reds in a 2-1 win, with goals from Colin Suggett and George Mulhall – Hurley, Todd, Stuckey and Porterfield also starred that day. I was of course hooked as a fan, seeing the game in black and white later on Match of the Day – see the YouTube footage at

November 1, 2011
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 11/01/2011

This was a game I managed to take in live at our excellent home ground, and it was a chance to: 1. Enjoy the match and 2. To review the club’s progress since my last visit. There were a lot of changes since I last saw the team in the flesh; spending much of my time working in Pennsylvania, USA has its disadvantages, although I do see games live there on Fox Soccer TV.

Connor Wickham is now a “regular” starter – his second game on the trot, and the back four have an unfamiliar look, although Wes Brown and John O’Shea are both excellent players. It takes time to develop that familiarity with each other that all good teams have, but this team is well on its way.

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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