Strange Days, Indeed
Hello again. Sorry to have been absent from this place for a couple. I think I`ve had loads to write about but not much time and a lot of trouble putting it all down. After all, the last three games have left me just shaking my head. And smiling. But mostly shaking my head.
I had been calling for Bruce`s head for quite a few games before the Bolton match, after all. So I`ve been slightly confused as to how to weigh in on what I feel is a miraculous transformation on the part of the team I love. The Bolton game was a must-win for Bruce and the team and we won it comprehensively. The City game was one we were probably expected to lose and we nearly won it (more on that later). And so I fully expected us to slip up when we faced Birmingham. Sorry to be negative; I`m a Sunderland supporter.
But I was wrong again and despite losing our way for much of the second half, we won.
We won? We didn`t give up a late goal to SKP? Didn`t get fooled on a cross-cum-shot that disappeared into the top corner (I`m talking to you Adam Johnson! That was a shot, my arse!) Nope. We won. Bent further built his case for the World Cup; Henderson`s comeback was stellar; Steed continued to be awesome.
Weird. This whole season has been very, very weird. I still don`t understand how we went from being so, so horrible to being really pretty okay. We`re playing like we were when we started the season and I just don`t understand it. If I could read anything about this season when it`s all over, it would be an account from players and coaches and Bruce himself as to what was going on behind the scenes over the course of the year. It would be fascinating. It`s like someone turned a switch back on. Campbell`s been wonderful; Steed is like a different player; our back four is solid; Gordon`s playing like a £9m keeper. Weird.
So back to that City game, I had an interesting experience in the pub that Sunday morning - one you lot probably have all the time, but here it`s rare.
I walked in and sat in the back. Everyone else in there was a plastic City fan, most of them Yanks and Latinos who like Tevez. But there was one Manc in the bunch who, upon spotting me, said, "Oh! A Sunderland fan! How`s life down there?"
Now that pissed me off. But why? Why should that have bothered me? It really shouldn`t have. I should have just laughed. But I scowled and said, "Fine."
"Well, we`re only worried about one of your players," said the Manc.
Really. Only one. Bent, I`m guessing. I suppose you`ve figured out how to neutralize big KJ then, have you? Right then. Well, we`ll see, you bastard.
But that was what I wish I`d said. Instead, seething, I replied, "Okay," and ordered my tea and toast.
Imagine my pleasure when the player he wasn`t worried about scored a few moments later. And believe me, I made plenty of noise.
The rest of the match was an unacknowledged war of words between the Manc and me. His "play Seanys" were met by my "That`s it, Bentys". His "Come on, Citeh" matched by my "Come on, Sun`lun". It was excellent. Of course, he had his bit when Johnson`s cross found the back of the net.
It was then that I surprised myself. A lot.
See I`m not a fighter. I haven`t really ever been in an actual fight, barring the odd punch thrown at a close friend I`m irritated with. The only harsh words I can be caught uttering are at the television in the privacy of my home or from the window of my moving car. So I try to avoid situations where my words can get me punched. But when the Manc said, on the heels of their goal, "Come on Citeh, we can win this," I lost it.
"Based on what?! You`ve been shit the whole game! That wasn`t a fucking shot - it was a cross!" Or something to that effect. It just came out of me. And I was really embarrassed the second it did. And more than a little nervous. But the Manc backed down, mumbled something like, "we did get lucky" and avoided me for the remainder.
Money and time permitting, I really want to come over to Sunderland some day. I`d like to make a vacation of it - see two or three games, see the Northeast. It doesn`t even matter if we win or lose while I`m there. Because moments like the one described above still make me feel like an imposter - despite loving the team so deeply that I`m unable to control my temper when someone is mouthing off about our team. I cannot begin to describe that strange disconnect.
In any case, I`m breathing a sigh of relief and despite the fact that we`ll probably get battered by Villa on Wednesday, I think we`re going to be okay. I hope Bruce can get everything settled and I`m still a little wary of him, but for now he`ll do.
Ha`way the Lads.