David Jones: Why derby celebrations didn’t last long in my household

editorial image
0
Have your say

The celebrations didn’t last long in my household. Perhaps it’s because I’m geographically removed from Sunderland.

Or perhaps it’s because working in the business for so long has hardened my soul or perhaps it’s simply because we’re not used to winning – apart from in the derby.

It’s almost six months since Sunderland fans could cheer a victory in the Premier League but all that pain will be forgotten if Sunday’s win acts as a springboard for the rest of the season.

And it wasn’t long after the final whistle had signalled the start of a party on Wearside that I started to think about the next challenges that face our club.

Probably the joy of triumph was tempered by the concern of just how poor we were in the first half at the Stadium of Light.

In the cauldron of the derby we showed no urgency, no control, no cutting edge and surprisingly little fight; Sam Allardyce must have been deeply concerned on the sidelines at the lack of improvement after a week on the training ground.

But, as we know, one infringement changed the game and, maybe with it, the course of our season.

Even against 10 men, we looked desperately short of confidence at the start of the second half but that sensational save from Costel Pantilimon seemed to be the wake up call we needed.

Our Romanian goalkeeper has had his critics – me among them – but that stop to deny Aleksander Mitrovic was extraordinary, his teammates owe him greater protection.

The second goal killed the contest and it was only then you could see our players grow, finally playing with the same confidence they’d shown in the first half against West Ham: that’s the feeling Allarydce has to bottle moving forward.

And now Big Sam has to do what no Sunderland manager since Paolo Di Canio has managed – and that’s to come through the game after the derby without losing.

It’s a worrying trend for our club which began under Gus Poyet.

Having won his derby debut, Sunderland went to Hull and endured a nightmare first 45 minutes which saw our goalkeeper Kieron Westwood injured, Carlos Cuellar put through his own net and both Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena sent off!

Later in the same season Hull came to Wearside – just days after Poyet’s team were the toast of the city having won 3-0 on Tyneside – this time Wes Brown was sent off in the fourth minute and we lost 2-0.

And then on Boxing Day last season after Adam Johnson’s last-minute winner in Poyet’s final taste of the derby, Sunderland again found themselves up against guess who ... Hull City.

You know what happened next, Steve Bruce’s side hadn’t scored for five and a half hours but we somehow contrived to concede three after Johnson had opened the scoring.

Thank goodness they were relegated! As for Dick Advocaat, his sole derby success was followed up by a mauling at home to Crystal Palace, and the less said about that the better.

In fact, it was David Moyes’ Everton who were the last team we managed to beat after a derby.

You might remember it for Stephane Sessegnon’s winner but I recall Di Canio’s unabashed celebrations in the centre circle after the game: a taste of things to come.

So now it’s Everton again where the football gods smiled on us last season.

And Big Sam will know Sunderland have to show a huge improvement to get anything from that game despite Everton’s tricky current run of form.

The point is that joyous as it is twice a year, beating Newcastle rarely signals a turning point in our season.

We can only hope this time it’s a different story and we don’t have to wait quite so long for the next victory celebration.