After a relatively quiet summer it seems the great Premier League machine is once more waking from a deep sleep, ready to start roaring again. This time, it seems our roar in particular, will be heard across the globe.
Last week, Ellis Short sat with the BBC to give only his second press interview since taking over in 2008 and what he spoke of was a brighter, more financially-sound Sunderland, using our heritageas a solid foundation to build upon, “to now be sponsored by a big initiative [Invest In Africa] who are backed by some serious companies is a good reflection on us and does indicate that we’ve taken a step up.
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.
Earlier this summer, I was contacted by someone on the SMB who asked if there were any location in Los Angeles that might be showing the Derby game. He was going to be on his honeymoon and was aggrieved to potentially be missing his first Derby in thirteen years. We corresponded and I learned he would be spending three weeks on the west coast of the US, so I gave him a list of some places he might like to visit, and told him that as it got closer, I’d find a place for him to watch the match and that I was buying the pints.
We’re quickly approaching the first anniversary of what I consider to be the worst day of my life* and most certainly the toughest day in my relatively short time as a supporter of Sunderland AFC.
I’ll set the scene - it’s Halloween, although the natives of Newcastle and Sunderland don’t know this: as far as we’re concerned it’s Derby Day, and nothing else matters. The build up for the match has been the same as every year – harsh words at school between rival supporters, bets laid between mates at work, relationships strained and challenged all because of one rivalry.
Back when the beautiful game was played on clarty, down-beaten pitches back in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, it was not uncommon for most English sides to have a couple of hard nuts amongst their ranks, whose sole purpose on the pitch was to belt members of the opposition as high as they could into the air.
Over the years at Sunderland, we’ve had cult heroes such as Kevin Ball, John Kay and Joe Bolton who were all loved for their passion and ability to break up the play with a crunching tackle.
In each and every issue of Seventy3’ we ask our guest editors to give us their greatest starting eleven of players they played with at Sunderland.
I went to my first game as a five year old and have seen just about everything in the 15 years since – there is definitely never a dull moment as a Sunderland fan and we’ve undergone rapid change since I was a kid. We are almost unrecognisable from the club who played at the much loved but dated Roker Park, without any real self sufficient financial structure or backbone globally.
As I write this, I have just about overcome the dramatic change Sunderland has under gone in the last few days. Niall is the most loved chairman Sunderland has ever had, maybe in the world; in fact he’s the most loved man in all of Sunderland, so a sense of insecurity is normal after he stepped down, replaced by Ellis Short.
Niall has taken over a new role as ‘Head of International Development’, obviously we’ll all find out more about the role the more he gets bedded in, but it means he’ll have less involvement in the day-to-day running of the club.
Academy players need to breakthrough sooner rather than later.
Despite having a long list of ‘top prospects’ at the club for some time, Jordan Henderson seems to be the only academy player to have made any real impact on the club. Just what is it that turn these prospects into top players? The answer, I’m sure, is first team football.
I can’t help but think that we are missing the boat with some of our players, letting them sit and wait around in the reserves and on the bench because they are ‘not ready’.
When Niall Quinn took over the reins as Sunderland chairman back in 2006 I was a little surprised and unsure as to whether he had the necessary skills and experience to run a football club. Five years on and any doubts are firmly erased from my mind.
Quinn put together the Drumaville Consortium at a time when our club was in need of a fresh injection of money and enthusiasm. At his first press conference he promised to take us, the club’s fans, on a “magic carpet ride” – a quote which has become synonymous with the great man and in many respects been fully delivered.
Niall Quinn is probably the most loved chairman Sunderland have ever had. Everybody likes him, he can do no wrong, and he was our saviour. But why is it nobody has kicked up a big fuss now he’s ‘stepped down’ as chairman?
Because it’s the right call.
Quinn seems to have finally made the decision he can’t take the club any further as chairman, and as usual, not many fans disagree with him. Stepping into the breach and taking over the reins, is owner Ellis Short, but the big question is what can he bring to the club as chairman?
Steve Bruce split opinions when he was appointed manager of Sunderland back in June 2009, two years on and the doubters seem to be on the rise after a run of abysmal results which has seen us take just one win in the opening 8 games of the season.
I for one have backed Steve Bruce since he was appointed, the fact that he was a Mag irrelevant in my opinion. He had done reasonably well with Palace, Birmingham and Wigan and his activity in the transfer market seemed to show he could find relative unknowns and make them successful players in the highly demanding Premier League.
Money – the root of all evil?
Well folks, another week and another week of disappointments – both on and off the field for all involved with Sunderland AFC. The legends of yesteryear must be turning in their graves.
Since Niall Quinn took over at the helm of our club I have happily bragged to all that would listen (and many that didn’t want to) about how magnificently our club was being run. We seemed to steer clear of controversy and wrongdoings, instead focusing on the positives – such as the time Niall Quinn (should I call him Sir?
WEST BROM - 2 for 1 offer!
Look out for our sellers out around the ground who will be offering issue 4 along with issue 3 for the grand total of £2! Support a local business - Seventy3 are one of many new SAFC fan produced media outlets looking to grow and continue to develop a huge fan base!
Wow, that came out of left field a little. Following a summer of speculation about Gyan leaving us, the transfer window closed and we could all relax (yes, I’m including Steve Bruce in that statement), knowing that the Ghanaian would be with us, at least until January. Wrong!!! This being Sunderland, events were happening behind closed doors that would leave us all in shock – more at the timing of the deal than anything else.
So, despite repeated statements on twitter by Gyan and his agent, he has decided to head off to that hot bed of football, the UAE Pro-League on a season long loan deal with the football giants that are Al Ain.
Anton Ferdinand is a frustrating footballer. He has the talent, the attitude, the athletic attributes and various other credentials to be a top player.
His time at Sunderland has been quite up and down for Anton, he signed from West Ham United in 2008 for a staggering £8m, at the time though, the fee could be justified easier than today. He was being talked up as the next bright English prospect and was even in contention to break into the International scene.
That never materialised, though, and he went through a tough time on the field with a string of poor performances, before eventually losing his place in the team.
Currently, Sunderland have three recognised goalkeepers on their books and they all undoubtedly have talent, however with Mignolet only 22 and inexperienced (excluding when he was thrown in at the deep-end last season) and Westwood, a Summer signing from Coventry, adjusting to Premier League life, do we really have a fit goalkeeper capable?
Obviously our number one for the past four seasons is Scotland international Craig Gordon, who is currently out with his fourth lengthy injury since signing from Hearts in 2007.
If the moral crushing defeats against the scum and Brighton teach us Sunderland fans anything, it is that major improvement is still needed in certain positions on the pitch. It has to be the priority of the manager, chairman and chief executive to bring in more quality players to strengthen certain areas of the side, because continuing into the season without that strength may determine whether we push further up the table or finish in a lower position than last season.
For me, we have to look at the left back position as a matter of urgency.
Going into the Swansea game, we have to decide whether we persist with the 4-4-1-1 formation or if we want to try something else.
Being the doom monger that I am, I've already decided that the 4-4-1-1 will not work and that a change is needed. Question is - who plays?
It's obvious that Bruce will lead the line with Gyan. From what I have seen in pre season and the first three games, he is nowhere near the level of performance or fitness that you expect from a player of his supposed quality.
As Media73 look to take strides in making our products Seventy3' and Terrace Talk more and more popular and more readily available to Sunderland fans, we are constantly looking to improve.
As of today, the site blog will be updated on a regular basis, with transfer gossip, general crack, match build up and of course the day to day highs, lows, moaning and groaning about SAFC.
I only wish that I could have picked a better day to start this but I find myself full of dread following the pitiful defeat at the hands of Championship newcomers Brighton in the league cup last night.
Okay then, before I start I just want to thank Mal Robinson and Andrew Brewster for supporting Sunderland World and I am delighted to be supporting Seventy3 and their cause.
Now, back to why I’m writing this article… I own Sunderland World, an unofficial Sunderland football fansite. Historically, we are a forum and have an active and loyal community that have stayed together for over three years. Forums are great in the fact they are like a local pub, you speak to the same regulars, of course you welcome new punters and hope they stay around and join in the craic.
The first word that jumped into muy mind upon first sight of the fixture list was: 'wow'!!! It is seemingly impossible to make the start of the season more exciting. We start with an away trip to Anfield where we will renew our acquaintance with the young million pound Mackem that is Jordan Henderson. With both teams teeming with new talent this game will be unpredictable as both sets of players will be only in the beginning stages of gelling!
Next up is the big one! The masterpiece, the main event, the game that my eyes scanned the list for from the off.
Who do we trust?
Well, it’s that time again, the start of the media bollocks and lie factory for the start of the next transfer window!
It is only the 15th of June and I am already sick to the back teeth of all the ridiculous rumours and utter nonsense that seems to be in circulation about who our manager and cub are chasing this summer.
The latest joke that I read came from Alan Nixon for the Daily Mirror, better known as ‘the transfer gossip specialist’, or to me a complete and utter liar in order to unsettle our players and cause unrest.
Graham Mason's blog looks back on his trip to Birmingham away a couple of months back....
ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER DEFEAT, ANOTHER REASON TO LOVE SAFC
It's a story.
Me and my Bury-born pal spent this weekend in Birmingham, so thought we'd share our story.
How did it start? 7am..or rather 4am for Tom after work finishing at 3am on Stevie Dean's Jarra bus. It seemed we had escaped the noisier of the 2 buses and Tom tried to get his head down for the next 4 hours before embarking on our first win since that great day down at Blackpool.
Having read last weeks football echo letters page and numerous internet forums etc I cannot believe some of the stuff that people are coming out with. When did we suddenly turn into the Barcelona of the North, I thought they subsided 12 miles north of the SOL. Before todays game we were one point away from our 3rd best points total since the 1950s. Steve Bruce is only in his second season at the club yet some people have been questioning his position for whatever reason. Bruce has his faults, his teams always seem to falter in the second half of the season, tactically he can be naive and some of his substitutions are bizarre and very rarely change a game but people need to look at the bigger picture.
The Return of Big Mick
I find myself thinking one of two ways about next weekend’s
final home game of the season against Wolves. It would be great to sign off a
topsy-turvy campaign with victory before going on to send West Ham down at
Upton Park a week later. But I’m also taking Big Mick McCarthy into my
thoughts, and I – for one – would begrudge him taking a point away from the
Stadium of Light if it helps him keep Wolves up.
I know it is wrong to consider your side dropping points at
home, particularly against a team struggling at the wrong end of the table. But
I’ve got plenty of time for Big Mick and it is my view that all Sunderland fans
(okay maybe most, or perhaps the majority) appreciate the job he did when in charge
at Stadium of Light and would want him to keep Wolves, whose side include
another former Stadium of Light favourite in Jody Craddock, up.
Unable to save us from the relegation almost certainly
brought about by the appointment of his predecessor Howard Wilkinson, McCarthy
transformed the squad back in the Championship. His purchase of relatively
unknown players from the lower league – the likes of Dean Whitehead, Liam
Lawrence, Jeff Whitley, Darren Byfield and Tommy Smith, amongst others – proved
to be exactly what we needed to get back on our feet and we went so close in
that 2003/04 season too, losing out to Crystal Palace in the play-off
The following year we were even better under Big Mick, his
young side playing some attractive football as we marched our way to way to the
Championship title and McCarthy will always be held in high regard thanks to
The return to the Premiership was not quite as we, and him,
had hoped. A lack of money available meant the squad wasn’t improved upon and
we struggled. For goals. For points. To be competitive. We basically struggled
to achieve anything. As a result McCarthy departed before the new era under
Niall Quinn was ushered in. The lack of financial backing was the cause for
that dismal season and I don’t blame McCarthy at all for that.
He’s a likeable chap. What isn’t there to like about him.
Even his dry sense of humour is likeable. Even his dour demeanour. And to be
honest I would love to see him keep Wolves up. I’d rather see them still in the
Premiership than have Wigan around next year, or even West Ham for that matter.
And that is where my dilemma stems from. Would I rather we picked up another
win? Of course I would. But would I also like Mick to get a point? I would like
that too. Here’s hoping he doesn’t need to win at Sunderland to stay up, but if
he does takes points and stays up then so be it. He’s a nice guy after all.
Drinking For The Lads
Seen as I am skint after purchasing a new home I am unable to go to The Reebok this weekend to watch my beloved Sunderland struggle away from home again. Instead I will be supporting the boys in red and white from my local boozer on “illegal sky”, much to the anger and disgust of our hero chairman Niall Quinn.
I was shocked when the news story broke about Quinny, a legend amongst men, said that he “despised” fans who watched the games in the local boozer. However, as predicted the media misquoted the Irish striker and his point was valid about how men of a certain age and demographic would avoid going to the Stadium of Light in order to spend the same amount on beer near the ground.
After recent results and last weeks humiliation at the hands of Fulham you could forgive the 4000 or so travelling fans for not being in the most optimistic of moods on the trip down to the Reebok Stadium. However after a few light ales the mood always turns to one of blind optimism and the odds of 10-1 on Sunderland to be winning at half time and full time seems too big of a price to turn down so £20 is staked on a Sunderland win. I was told I was tossing my money away as Bolton had won their last 5 at home and had only lost to Chelsea and Liverpool all season on home turf but blind optimism was allowed to overrule my head which was thinking of a low defeat at best.
The Walking Wounded
It is funny how the next issue of Seventy3 has a theme
entitled “The heat of the battle” because this season just seems like one
massive war with injuries and suspensions!
Is our training ground planted with landmines? Is the Stadium of Light
pitch surrounded by ‘hamstring hit men’? Are away ground changing rooms filled
with slippery floors and knives hanging from the ceilings over the treatment
table? You get my point, it seems this
season just gets more and more ridiculous on the injury front.
What other team in the English Premier division has to make
two substitutions within twenty minutes of play…three games in a row at
home? It is as though some voodoo doctor
is unhappy with our earlier form and decided to rip every Sunderland doll in
half and keep them out for as long as he sees fit! Why do we have absolutely no luck at all with
injuries? If there is going to be an
investigation by Quinny and Short as to why most of our squad has missed at
least a fortnight of play I worry. I
worry, because knowing our luck both Quinny and Short will end up falling from
the top flight of the Premier concourse and end up impaled on one of the corner
We are currently top of the Premier league, for
injuries. At present we have eight injuries
in total and top the list on a website named physioroom.com – something to be
proud of at least but the laughing has to stop in case we break a rib and turn
our attentions as to how this can stop.
If we did not recover from the Wigan opener and lose this
important clash we would be well and truly screwed with the team we would have
left to see us to safety. Even Steve
Bruce joked we currently have 13 fit players in training today but I really do
not think he was joking, we are literally down to the bare bones of a team.
Imagine if we had to play Fulham, Bolton, Wolves and West
Ham still under the 40-point barrier with not one fit recognised striker? We
were nervous with Gyan and Welbeck on a run of 9 games without a win but this
would have sent me over the edge in depression.
The importance of that 4-2 victory cannot be dismissed, that win saved
us from a desperate struggle that only Sunderland AFC could create and go
How can these injuries stop?
Do we have to entirely change the whole academy and training team? Do we need to change the whole training
regime and ensure all players are warming up and down correctly and eating the
correct diet? Something must change
because this happened last season and has developed into a growing concern this
season and as Steve Bruce said: “it is not just bad luck”, so what is it Steve?
One thing for certain is Mr Short has to deliver another
hefty chequebook to Bruce to replace the long term wounded and replace the
loanees who may not sign over the summer transfer window. However, if these players return to their
parent clubs they may tell other players not to join as it is cursed by the
evil voodoo doctor and their fitness will be taken as soon as they swing through
the Stadium of Light entrance!
Roll on Fulham this Saturday, let’s
hope the paramedics and physio’s are on full alert as they may have ran out of
stretchers and sponges by the 25 minute
Seventy3 Scripturez blog - get with the script
Welcome to a new feature of the site where me, myself and i will be getting with the blog culture and pushing your way, a weekly dose of scriptures on behalf of the Seventy3 revolution. I will be covering everything going on in the world of football, fanzines and future projects.
So, lets start with the last game and the mixed emotions left in its wake. Going into the fixture no one needed to state this was a must win game against a Wigan side struggling for survival.