Back to Premier basics: does Megson sacking help or hinder vs Bolton?

Sunderland 3 Barrow 0 had a mildly satisfying ring to it. Sunderland 3 Bolton 0 or Portsmouth/Coventry 0 SAFC 3 would feel even better. Steve Bruce and his team have little time – or cause – for self-congratulation before sleeves need to be rolled up for the more important tests ahead …

On a forced march through Parisian department stores, I felt the mobile vibrate. Salut! Sunderland readers know all about Sixer’s Sevens, Pete Sixsmith’s indispensable seven-word summary of each game. This was what I call a Sixer’s One, a goal alert and, happily, the single word was Steed.

First thought? One up and only three-quarters of the game left to try to avoid what has become the inevitable equaliser. Second thought? Hang on, we’re playing Barrow, not Everton. And of course, another name that doesn’t normally appear on the scoresheet featured in Sixer’s subsequent one-worders, except that the last one was stretched to two to read “Campbell again”.

So, job done. As Pete remarked later, we did exactly what was expected of us, proceeding to round four, to be – as it turns out – sent to Coventry or on an unappetising trip to Pompey.

But first there is the small matter of Sunderland v Bolton, at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. In bleaker seasons, we’ve talked about games we absolutely have to win, as if failure would bring relegation closer. Surely, our Premier status cannot be seriously at stake this season, after all the promise, all the expenditure.

Supporting Sunderland means never saying never to such a scenario. But I cling to the belief that we will not be sucked into yet another battle at the bottom.

That confidence needs to be nourished, however. We simply cannot afford to get things wrong against the likes of Bolton Wanderers, managerless as I speak and the only club we’ve managed to beat away in the league this season. If you doubt my word, remember who we have next: Chelsea away.

As it happens, we also need – if we genuine in our ambitions – to regard the fourth round of the cup as eminently winnable, a tie that represents a challenge, whoever we play, but one we must, with our squad, feel ready for.

Whatever transpires in the transfer window, and whatever happens to us at Stamford Bridge, these – Bolton (h) and Portsmouth or Coventry (a) – are two games we should regard as ones to define the turn our season is about to take.

Will the dismissal of Gary Megson, a manager who divided Bolton fans, make things easier for us, or – especially if an appointment is made quickly – harder? Can we be trusted to defend as well as attack for once? Bolton will not roll over for us this season any more than they did last.

It’s early in the week to be fretting about Saturday’s home game, and much too early to worry about the next round of the cup. Let’s just call it mature reflection, and hope for the bloody best.

* Click here for Pete Sixsmith on the pre-match encounter with a Samaritans fundraiser that had him briefly wondering how he’d be spending Saturday evening.

Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

3 Responses to “Back to Premier basics: does Megson sacking help or hinder vs Bolton?” Subscribe

  1. Bill Taylor January 4, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    I know a good Cup run is a wonderful thing but I can’t help wishing we were out of it so we could concentrate on consolidating our position in the league.
    The optimist in me thinks we could come away from Stamford Bridge with a point. The pessimist fears Bolton will leave the SoL with ditto.

  2. Geoff Mangan January 4, 2010 at 10:09 pm #

    It is Sod’s Law – whenever a team gets a new manager, you can put your money on the fact that their next game when they want to go out of their way to please their new boss – it will be against us. We’re also inevitably on the receiving end of Goals of the Month/season/decade. I seem to remember that the first player ever to play with a pacemaker played for York City against us – and they won. Was this true or is my Alzheimers kicking in? It may have been an artificial leg.
    I still think we will get those precious 3 points on Saturday though – boy are they going to be precious. The stress of my previous day job gave me a pacemaker, think I’ll see if York City are short this next week.
    BTW, this was my first day of retirement today – nice.

  3. Pete Sixsmith January 4, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

    Now that Geoff has retired, we look forward to seeing him at The Stadium and at Hetton for the Reserve games. Some of us still have to work to fund his lavish pension – although not today and maybe not Wednesday if John Penman’s promised snowstorm arrives.
    As for Bolton, it looks like Coyle will take over and it may well turn out to be a difficult game for us, although we lost our first game under Bob Stokoe in 1972. You can read about that in Lance Hardy’s superb book Stokoe, Sunderland and 73. It’s a great read!!!!

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