Over the past few seasons it seems that Sunderland and Manchester United have enjoyed somewhat of a mutual respect, which undoubtedly came from putting Roy Keane, and then Steve Bruce, in charge.
So after hearing the great roar that erupted from the stands when United lost, can we expect to enjoy the same“special” relationship? Was there ever one in the first place? And what are the repercussions of this fan-to-fan roasting?
Well, first of all, I think this mild form of favouritism most likely only existed because the previous two managers were Ferguson protégés and will probably follow with them wherever they go.
Secondly, I think that as much as it was, in my eyes, just a bit of the usual jibing that comes with the football territory, there could be some annoying repercussions. Manchester United don’t seem to have taken it very well, with both Sir Alex and Mr. Rooney claiming that they “won’t forget” the way we reacted when the score-line appeared (how will we cope?).
Furthermore, I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, but Mancini and O’Neill don’t seem to be on the best terms either, after Roberto dismissed us as “easy” opponents (a bit rich coming from a man who couldn’t beat us at either his ground or ours and was lucky to only just grab a draw) and, as I just mentioned, Ferguson is still smarting at our rendition of the Poznan. It is now less likely we’ll be enjoying the luxuries of having the “first-pick” of either team’s youth squad that we have over the past few seasons.
But then maybe our doing this City-related celebration, and our obvious elation at the score-line, has enamoured the Boys in Blue to us? Not that they need us to act as a training camp for their bench-warmers and young guns in the way we did for their rivals, but I suppose what with the advantage of their endless wealth possibly coming to a closethanks to the FIFA Fair Play rules, we could be of some use.
Is that what we want, though? To be the bigger-boy’s bitch? Not really. I don’t and I’m sure you don’t either. I think maybe under previous managers (no names mentioned) that was the case, but O’Neill seems to have injected a healthy dollop of self-respect back to the club, at least behind the scenes. After all, Sunderland AFC were once known as the “moneybags” club of the North-East and were feared for their quality of play. It would be nice to re-take that place in time, which after seeing how O’Neill got us to perform after he joined, will be more likely to happen.
Overall I think Marty commands enough respect from everyone else not to have to worry about where we stand in the minds of those occupying Greater Manchester (or Surrey, for the United fans). Our celebration was probably an annoyance to him, as it’ll just put more fire in the belly of United when we next play them, giving us a harder time of it.
One thing that is for sure, though, is that next season will certainly bring some exciting changes, both off and on the pitch. Will Chelsea rise to the fore again and if so, who will be at their helm leading them? Personally, I think Di Matteo would be nuts to take the job.Mainly because the man who owns the club is an Oil-Funded Russian Oligarch, those four words alone evoke images that wouldn’t be out of place in a Bond Villain Retrospective.
Also, how will United respond to losing the crown? They’re the come-back kings and will make it as hard for City as possible to retain the title. Will Liverpool finally steady their ship and return to the top four? Questions, questions. All of which set me on tenterhooks for the 2012-13 season, as I’m sure they do you.