soccernet blog
May 13, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 05/13/2012

Tomorrow is a huge day for the Premiership in what has been a very exciting season. To have the title decided on the last day is always something special. It is all just about over in the Blues' favour.

Let me first say that I much prefer Man. City to Man. Utd. City to me are just nicer, they have style, and when they lose, they lose with grace. Their rise to the top has been momentous. Their rivals have won too much, and Ferguson is of course talented but arrogant. How, you may ask, has this affected Sunderland? Well in my memory it goes back in part to the way he unsettled a very gifted French striker, David Bellion, who scored his first senior goal for the Black Cats against Aston Villa in September 2002, as related in Wikipedia ( After a game United won at the SSOL in October 2002, Ferguson complimented Bellion after he had come on as a substitute.

Following that Bellion completely lost interest in playing for the Black Cats, and went AWOL to France at a time when the team needed him most. Upon returning, Bellion claimed he had been visiting his sick grandmother, and made himself temporarily unavailable for selection, claiming he was "mentally unfit" to be playing in a relegation battle. At the time, speculation was rife that the Frenchman had been "tapped up" by United, and sure enough he agreed a move to the "Red Devils" after his contract expired in June 2003. Luckily, Bellion was under the age of 23, and Sunderland was eligible for compensation, the clubs eventually agreeing a fee of £2 million out of court. Even former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein claimed Bellion had been offered to Arsenal by his agent illegally and that United had been paying for Bellion's mobile phone bills whilst still at Sunderland.

You could fault the star-struck player for never really seriously kicking a ball again for Sunderland, but I put the blame firmly at the door of Alex Ferguson, who unsettled a talent that Sunderland had unearthed, and the Scotsman essentially transformed him into an ineffective wreck, in a season when the Black Cats just avoided relegation. These sleaze-ball tactics have made him less popular than such a hugely successful manager should be.

May 5, 2012
Posted by Lars Knutsen on 05/05/2012

Sunderland made the surprise choice of Craig Gordon as keeper, and he put in a creditable performance, and was blameless for the visitors’ two goals. Cattermole returned, and came away with his usual booking. Our line-up was 01 Gordon, 02 Bardsley, 04 Turner, 12 Kilgallon (Bridge - 82'), 16 O'Shea, 06 Cattermole, 14 Colback, 23 McClean, 28 Sessegnon, 09 Campbell, (Elmohamady - 72'), 52 Bendtner.

Bolton made the short trip north, recalling Kevin Davies in this team: 01 Bogdan, 18 Ricketts, 25 Boyata, 31 Wheater, 32 Ream, 07 Eagles (Miyaichi - 64'), 10 Petrov, 16 M Davies, 19 Reo-Coker (Vela - 78'), 14 K Davies, 24 Ngog (Klasnic - 64').

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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