The Lads at Everton: We Lose Again
When I mention to a Brit that I`m a Sunderland supporter, it`s usually met with a mixture of curiosity and pity. When I mention it to a Yank, it`s met with a blank stare. I`m the only one in any LA pub supporting the lads. I`m the only one cheering when 'Benty' puts another one in. (The Arsenal game at the Fox and Hounds in Studio City was an excellent example of this reaction - me among a room full of 'Gooners' screaming my head off.)
It is in this context that once again I, and I alone, will settle in to enjoy or cry over our second match against Everton this season. A fly on the wall of that aforementioned pub would have heard me scream "Fucking Fellaini!" when we conceded in the dying minutes at home last month. Hopefully this will be our first away win of the season - a statistic I`m having a bit of trouble processing as it seems it was just the opposite under Keano`s reign last season. I guess I have to chalk our recent dip in form down to injuries - especially of Cattermole and Mensah - but then we`ve not been winning away from home all season, regardless of who`s out. In any case, I`m writing this bit the night before our match. Here`s hoping we can shift things tomorrow and get into them like we`ve been able to on previous occasion.
"If you`re a Sunderland fan, after the beginning of this season, you`re asking yourself 'Where`s it gone wrong? Why`s it gone wrong? And how can we fix it?`"
That`s what the Scottish sportscaster (Andy Gray?) said about halfway through today`s shambles at Goodison. And to be honest, I don`t have an answer beyond maybe showing Bruce the door.
It`s tough to figure out. Obviously our defense is a shambles, but it didn`t always look that way. Our offense (barring the usually requisite goal from 'Benty') is toothless, but again, it didn`t always look that way. Our midfield doesn`t seem to be able to string more than a couple passes together, and again, it didn`t always look that way. Something is definitely rotten in the state of Sunderland and I can`t for the life of me figure out what it is. We`re once again in that old familiar place: watching a side without bottle stumble along towards a relegation fight.
Now it goes without saying that we`ve suffered as a result of all the injuries. But now that players are coming back, you`d think we`d enjoy rejuvenation of a sort. But today was more of the same poor passing, woeful defending, and amateurish offense.
And let me say something about Landon Donovan. As a Yank, I`m of course proud of the lad. I`m looking forward to World Cup and I hope this stint with Everton does him good in the same way playing abroad does most of our players good. Our national team cannot get better playing against the likes of Panama and T&T (sorry KJ!) so it is imperative that our nationals continue growing by playing in Europe and England. But really he was pretty awful his last time round when playing in Europe for Leverkusen. And he`s a really hit or miss player for LA Galaxy and the US Team. So it just had to be him to score against us, didn`t it? I feel like I should apologize to all of you. Sorry. I didn`t know he would suddenly get markedly better upon coming to Everton. Really. I didn`t. Outside of Clint Dempsey, the best players we Yanks can offer are a decent keeper now and again. We certainly aren`t known for our attacking midfielders.
And Tim Cahill? I hate Tim Cahill. I hated him at Millwall. I hate him at Everton. He always scores against us and I hate him.
All of this losing and bad feeling is made all the more difficult being out here in LA. When we win, I`ve nobody to share it with in person. When we lose, the isolation is even tougher to take. But strange as it may seem, I feel the pain of the loss every bit as viscerally as a local. See, I have no ties to Sunderland in any way. It`s the team I randomly picked to follow almost ten years ago. I`ve invested a lot of time in the lads now and I`m not going anywhere, despite (again) the looming threat of relegation (I think we can say it now). They are my team for better and for worse. Lately it`s been a lot of worse.
So, ironically, I feel fortunate that despite our form of late, despite our reputation as a yo-yo team, despite the many false dawns - I have a community online, even if it is halfway around the globe. Indeed thank god for the Internet! And again how ironic that through this window I can support a team that in its history has been twice the worst in Premiership history, that has been middling at best, but remains my team.