It’s time to forget about Saturday, the sure approach of relegation and idiotic, contrived controversies about Graeme Anderson’s Jozy Altidore tweet*.
Not yet – quite – time for all Salut! Sunderland contributors to rattle off their pieces for what we shall call the Wembley and Bust series. What’s it going to be about, someone asked. I’ll leave you to guess.
Everyone is invited to offer thoughts on the catastrophe that has befallen our club. The series will not start until (I wanted to write “unless”) we are down.
And then it will be first come, first posted. I suspect readers will quickly tire of an inquest that lasts as long as the phone-hacking trial. But all contributions will be posted; if they become too numerous, I will find a special off-piste home for them with links from here.
But for now, Guess the Score is back. And the promise holds: no mathematical certainty just yet so it’s another prize edition.
That elusive Salut! Sunderland mug remains the prize. Elusive for two reasons: no winners in recent weeks and even those owed them (whether for winning Guess the Score, subscribing to Friends of Salut! Sunderland or for favours done) are having to wait. So apologies to CSB, John Mac, Ken Gambles and anyone who sees every approach from the postman as a source of hope. It will be done.
Tomorrow, the fortunate Capital One Cup winners are our opponents. They will be hoping their luck holds out against such stiff opposition. Be the first to guess the correct score and post it, necessarily before kick off, and you will join that little list of recipients-to-be of the mug, suitably modified if you happen to support City. Monsieur Salut’s decision shall, as always, be final.
* In case reference to the Graeme Anderson tweet mystified you, let me explain. The Sunderland Echo’s chief football writer tweeted the following from the Everton match:
“Half time. @ConnorWickham10 has contributed more in first half than @JozyAltidore has in his last three appearances.”
A few people have taken offence, arguing that it was anything from unnecessary to dreadful to tag the player. I completely disagree. As I wrote at the Off the Post website today:
I cannot see a single justification for reproaching the journalist (whom I have never met, incidentally). He made a valid comparison of two players competing for more or less the same position, one in which everyone has failed miserably this season.
Now had Jozy been a shrinking violet whose sensibilities must at all times be protected, as opposed to a high-profile sportsman with 680,000 Twitter followers, maybe the reporter should have thought twice about tagging him. Sunderland Echo staff also tag him when tweeting about positive references to what he does (off the field, necessarily), as has been the case with this story.
Please try to imagine what it feels like to be a supporter of this grand old football club, constantly let down by incompetent management and fabulously paid players. The last thing we need now is gloves-off, mollycoddling journalism from the local paper.
And you may disagree with me. That’s allowed in the sort of free society that others, wishing to stifle debate, find so irksome. Jozy, incidentally, strikes me as being a top man – as the Echo also acknowledges with this report, mentioned in my Off the Post comment, and a subsequent tweet by Graeme’s colleague, Chris Young – and I salute him for his classy response to Graeme’s message from the Stadium of Light: ““That’s good. Happy to see him playing well.”
Now that it seems probable Sunderland are going down, does it surprise you we collapsed so wretchedly after Wembley – and do you think we have a chance of bouncing straight back?
Mark Barber, secretary of the City Disabled Supporters’ Association:
I am stunned at the way your season has gone. There are some very poor teams at the bottom of the league and I expected you to survive on the basis that the others were simply too poor to stay up, but since Wembley you have been in freefall which is hard to explain. Is it down to loss of confidence having been beaten at Wembley, poor management or the team just not being strong enough? Whatever the reason it is a real shame, there are certain games that should always be in the top league and the Sunderland v Newcastle games are right up there as highlights of the season.