It would be pretty easy, in the heat of emotion following Sunday’s almost stereotypical Sunderland meltdown, to dismiss Lee Cattermole. The same Cattermole that many of us have lauded this season for perhaps being the one player who was up for this relegation dogfight. Most footballers have their pros and cons – but which outweigh the other?
Well, that was certainly fun but now we have got to face up to the stark reality once more that we are still stuck in the rut of a relegation battle. It would be pretty ludicrous of me to suggest this weekend’s game against Hull City is as important our win against the Mags – but it can’t be too far behind in the context of our season.
I think it is about time we dust ourselves down a little and try to shed a little perspective on the aftermath of 2-1. With that in mind, I had a bit of a think about three things which were huge encouragements to me and three things which get the pessimism flowing once more.
Whilst we are still revelling on our tremendous derby win – there is another football match to think about as Sunderland take on former gaffer Steve Bruce’s Hull City. Andy from the Tigers’ former fanzine and most established website Amber Nectar (@Amber__Nectar) kindly took the time answer a few questions on Sunderland, Bruce, their season and a match of huge importance for both clubs.
So we beat the Mags and it was incredible. Now this should kick start our season and help catapult us up the table – right? Well, let’s have a quick look at what history tells us…
One of the key tasks for Guy Poyet is to bring some semblance of stability at Sunderland. His challenge is all the greater with more than a third of the 27-man squad he inherited facing uncertain futures even before his arrival.
Before a ball was kicked this season, Niall Quinn hit the nail on the head when querying whether Paolo Di Canio has the right interpersonal credentials to make Sunderland succeed. “The big question mark is over Di Canio's man-management skills. Will he be able to get the players he has kept to gel with the many new signings he has brought in during the summer? That is a big ask because, make no mistake, the Premier League will punish weaknesses”.
In a recent Sunderland Echo article there was short quote from Paolo di Canio which gives an indication on the financial situation at the club, which determined much of the summer transfer activity and the supposed “revolution”:“We have to be honest, at the end of the transfer market we couldn’t spend any more money and in Borini we were able to loan a player with the characteristics I had asked for”.
It's one of football's oldest clichés; when it comes to derby games, the form book goes out the window. So how true is it? Well, looking at one of English football's fiercest derbies - Sunderland against Newcastle - suggests that, like all good clichés, there is an element of truth in it but it doesn't tell the full story.
As we begin to contemplate the proposition of Sunderland departing the familiar habitat of the Premier League on the eve of the derby, it'd probably be best to reflect on our ventures against the mags over the course of our current residence. Since the Keano-inspired promotion in 2007, our fortunes against the rivals against whom we crave victory most have been very mixed.