philipl Posted December 26, 2010 Share Posted December 26, 2010 The second of two away games on the bounce and part 3 of a 4 game sequence in 10 days. Sunderland Roker Park and Stadium of Light are grounds I have somehow never managed to go to and that is a duck I am not going to be breaking this season either unfortunately. Having said that I was going to a game at Roker and it got postponed so given the turmoil at dear old Rovers it might be a good idea if I start planning my journey up to Wearmouth right now. Sunderland are not dissimilar to Newcastle United in having their triumphs in the murky past- I vaguely recall Newcastle winning the Fairs Cup in 1969 but most definitely remember Sunderland winning the FA Cup in 1973- Jim Montgomerie's save, Ian Porterfield's goal and dear old Bob Stokoe putting paid to dirty Leeds. Oh what fun. And many barren years in the north east ever since! That is not to dismiss 6 Championships, 2 FA Cups and a 68 year unbroken sojourn in the top flight until relegation in 1958. However, since then they have been something of a yo-yo club including a trip to the third level and two mind bogglingly awful seasons in the PL in the last decade which saw them clock up 19 points in 2003 and 15 points in 2005, a low point which Derby undertook (?) with 11 points in 2007/8. Sunderland have been well backed financially by their current and previous owners who somehow managed to recruit players of the calibre of Gayan without firing their Manager and Deputy and double promoting the first team coach- no idea how they managed to do that. Despite all the outlay, it has taken time for Sunderland to get themselves securely established and this season look to be on course for a top half finish. Significantly, their squad includes 13 English born players, 2 Scots and one Ulsterman showing a clear preference for home grown talent despite American ownership. The Manager is Steve Bruce- a man whom I don't rate particularly highly after witnessing an intemperate rant against Rovers from him after we were cheated 1-0 at Old Trafford in the Championship winning season. He somehow managed to make Paddy Crerrand appear sane and unbiased. Notwithstanding that, Bruce is a Manager I would imagine most of his fellow PL managers fancy out-witting when they send out a team against his side so this should be a great opportunity for Steve Kean to prove some tactical nous at this level. I also saw Bruce score against Rovers more than once- the first at Priestfield when we beat Gillingham 2-1 after Bruce's late goal forced extra time in a League Cup game. Bruce was a teenage superstar in the making. Back to Saturday's game and frankly I am full of foreboding. Sunderland have many of the characteristics of the Stoke side which took us apart today with two differences - they are a better side and they can play football when they want to. Ask the shell-shocked Ancelloti; Sunderland murdered Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and the 3-0 scoreline did not flatter them. What side will we put out? No idea- depends whether there is a night of the long knives or of Gerald Jackson's pyjamas if the Venky's are vindictive against every player who has spoken out (Ryan?). But at least there will be no Jason Roberts grin after he misses an open goal which has become a trade mark of recent Rovers' visits to Sunderland. Come to think of it, it would be a major achievement if Rovers got into position to miss an open goal after the way the West Ham and Stoke games went. Will we continue our revival of our winning ways in the North East after collecting 3 points from St James's? I just don't see it. Think this will be a losing start to 2011 and we will do well to keep the damage to our goal difference to just 2. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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