The best thing Gus Poyet can do to show his players how much Sunday means to the people of Sunderland is to play back the DVD of the 1973 Cup Final on Sunday morning. I assume managers have probably done so in the past before big games in an effort to bring the players to our level, and some may have failed when it came to the big occasion, but I sense that the current group of players might respond well to it, knowing in hindsight what their potential achievements can bring to their lives and their status within the world of football.
What do you want your club to achieve as a fan? An occasional win against one of the big boys, another win against the Scum, a top half finish, winning the league, a European place, survival or a trip to Wembley and a cup win?
The Premier League has felt like a sideshow, and in recent weeks an inconvenient one, since Vito Mannone’s save sent SAFC into the Capital One Cup final. The players have had four League games with a FA Cup tie sandwiched in between to stake their claim for a spot in Gus Poyet's starting eleven – so who deserves it? I’m sure most of you won’t agree with me but this is the team I’d like to see walk out at Wembley.
I am partial to a piece of humble pie. I wrote back in the beginning of October that John O’Shea should be stripped of the captain’s armband, advocating that his influence on the pitch wasn’t enough to warrant the accolade and lambasting his naïve and hesitant defending. Ask most Sunderland fans regarding the most talented defender in red and white and they will invariably point to Wes Brown (and quite right they should do so) – but it’s about time O’Shea gets a huge pat on the back. It’s took a while, but I’ve prised my own foot out of my mouth to do just that.
Sunderland have had undeniable success in the loan market this year, with Ki Sung-Yueng, Fabio Borini and Marcos Alonso all establishing themselves on Wearside. But what is SAFC’s best loan team? In the first of three parts, we’ll look at some of our best defensive loan signings.
Following Sunderland’s loan successes this season, we’re looking at the best loanees to arrive on Wearside. In part two of this feature, we’ll look at which three midfielders will be joining SAFC’s best loan eleven, alongside the defence of Shay Given, Alan Hutton, Jonny Evans, John Mensah and Danny Rose.
Ever wondered what a team made up entirely of Sunderland’s best loan signings would look like? In the final instalment, we’ll look at which strikers have impressed at SAFC after being temporarily brought to Wearside.
Regardless of whether Sunderland are still a Premiership side in May, Gus Poyet is guaranteed a busy summer. An incredible fourteen players are out of contract at the end of the season, five of whom are currently on loan deals at the Stadium of Light. Crucially however, six of the fourteen are first team regulars. So which players should be rewarded with a new contract, and who need to be looking for a new club?
First off, I realise this is all based purely on what ifs. I also realise every team could do this and probably come to a similar conclusion. However, we do seem more susceptible than most to crazy moments leading to unnecessary red cards. Surely this has had an impact on our season and an impact on where we are in the table? Sunderland have received six Premier League red cards already this campaign, more than any other side. So, because I’m at a loose end this evening, allow me to recap them all and mull over how many, if any, points each cost us.
Bottom of the league at Christmas, with ten points from seventeen games. With half of the season gone, not a single league win against another team in the bottom half of the League. Twelve goals in seventeen games, five league wins in the whole of 2013 (only one more win than we have had managers in this year). Right now, Sunderland are a shambles, and look like relegation certainties (and as Sunderland fans, we should know what a relegation side looks like, we’ve seen plenty before).