The game vs. Aston Villa on Saturday was a solid performance from Sunderland. Aside from the first 10 minutes the team rarely looked like conceding, and the goal by Bendtner that was disallowed for offside would have been given on most other days. I also felt that James McLean has been off colour recently, and he was also wasting chances in this crucial match. There is no doubt that Martin O’Neill’s comments after the game were right on the money, and we should have won the game.
I feel sorry for Villa, and sympathise with the situation they are in. They have had to sell some very good players such as Ashley Young and Stuart Downing. The injury to key players Darren Bent was devastating for them, and I do not blame them for signing our top striker. I still blame him for walking, though. The Petrov situation is obviously also hanging over them.
All football events this week have been overshadowed by the quite amazing Barcelona vs. Chelsea game on Tuesday. It was truly incredible and showed how British grit, no little talent and decent tactics won over the neutrals, and more importantly won the game for Chelsea.
The team was not all British, of course, and John Terry made sure by his silliness that only Cole and Lampard represented our home country…but the style of football was British by a group of 'Anglicised" players, gutsy and to quote Bobby Robson, of the Terry Butcher blood-stained headband game, the Chelsea team had the “they shall not pass” mentality. It was one of the great footballing moments, like Man. Utd beating Bayern Munich in the 1998/99 final, Arsenal winning 2-0 at Anfield, etc., etc.
This led into the main news of the week for Sunderland fans: the chance that a 4th place finish may well not enough for Newc**tle to get into the Champions’ League next season. There are two reasons for this:
The first is that Newcastle is something that Sunderland fans have suspected for some time: Newcastle is in Scotland. I took the train each day for 10 years across Hadrian’s Wall to attend school in the city, so I often had that feeling.
The Northern Echo has reported “A CONFUSED holiday company in the South of England is insisting that Newcastle is in Scotland. Bemused Jamie O'Neill e-mailed lowcostholidays.com - based at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex - to point out their geographical error.
The 24-year-old, of Cumbernauld, near Glasgow, had been searching for holiday deals on the company's website for airports north of the border - but the results kept including Newcastle. "I only emailed with the subject heading 'Newcastle isn't in Scotland', didn't expect a reply."
But he was left astounded when Rajesh Bangera from the firm's customer services department did reply and insisted: "Newcastle is indeed located in Scotland. It is a city, not a capital. Please feel free to call us for further assistance." See: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/local/tyneandwear/9662598.Expert_holiday_firm_insists_Newcastle_is_in_Scotland/ - this is priceless.
For Sunderland fans, being North of the Tyne often feels like foreign territory. And Newc**tle fans never go to Sunderland unless they really have to.
Secondly, if Chelsea win over Bayern Munich, and who will bet against them after this week’s events, Newc**tle finishing 4th in the Premiership will mean that they end up in the Europa League. What a let-down that would be, but having said that, Toon have had a great season.
Their fans will obviously still gloat, but I presume that Robbie Savage will save money by not having to buy that taxi…
©Lars J.S. Knutsen