SAFC Tour diary: Costel must sing for his supper

Costel Pantilimon (right) with Vito Mannone in Portugal

Costel Pantilimon (right) with Vito Mannone in Portugal

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A TRADITION exists in the Sunderland camp.

New signing arrives and they are forced to showcase their singing abilities during their first trip away from home.

Now with Sunderland in the Algarve for 10 days, the karaoke carnage has been spread out.

Billy Jones has already fulfilled his responsibilities by appropriately performing Sunderland anthem Three Little Birds.

And Patrick van Aanholt was coerced into singing R Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly.

Jordi Gomez and Costel Pantilimon are yet to take to the microphone though.

Given that the tradition is to stand on a chair while singing, the latter may struggle, particularly after inadvertently crushing his plastic seat as he watched the Under-21s against Recreativo de Huelva on Tuesday.

SEVERAL days of indulgence on the Algarve have taken their toll on the hundreds of Sunderland fans out here in Portugal.

It’s not surprising given the bar tariffs.

Three of us went to a restaurant yesterday and got a free beer, plus taxi ride, thrown in with the bill. That’s better than a Glacier mint!

But there was a far more subdued atmosphere among the masses at Sunderland’s second tour friendly against CD Nacional on Wednesday night.

While there were still a few chants to emerging cult hero Billy Jones, the dominating feeling was of sore, tired heads.

There was a subdued – and dare I say it – almost civilised atmosphere in the stands.

But some had learned their lessons from over-consumption.

One fan, who shall remain nameless, had swallowed so much Super Bock on Tuesday night that he endured two falls down the stairs of the Albufeira Stadium terraces and broke his crutch on the way.

His pleas to Sunderland’s medical staff 24 hours later to see if they had a spare crutch unsurprisingly fell on deaf ears.

ANYONE needing a splash of extra motivation to return to their revelry could do worse than heading to Garrafeira Vintage, in Albufeira.

This offy shamelessly relies on celebrity endorsement to sell its various vintages – Cliff Richard helping to lure punters to the shelves stocked with local vino.

Not sure Cliff will be receiving a huge royalties check in return though...

THIS pre-season has been tough to draw any conclusions other than the obvious one that Sunderland are still in dire need of fresh faces.

Several fans have asked over the last few days how Sunderland have performed in Portugal.

Well, it’s been normal, run-of-the-mill pre-season stuff – neat, tidy, but nothing spectacular.

Probably the stand-out players over the course of the games have been the likes of Charis Mavrias and El-Hadji Ba, who are understandably desperate to impress Gus Poyet and improve their first-team prospects.

But there is an overwhelming sense that Sunderland’s prospects remain up in the air. Until the new boys are in the door, it’s impossible to draw any conclusions about what lies in store.