Tony Gillan: Solace for Sunderland in pre-season disappointments

Jermaine Defoe, center, celebrates his second goal of the game with teammates Steven Fletcher, left, and Emanuele Giaccherini  during the second half of a friendly match with Toronto on Wednesday, July 22.

Jermaine Defoe, center, celebrates his second goal of the game with teammates Steven Fletcher, left, and Emanuele Giaccherini during the second half of a friendly match with Toronto on Wednesday, July 22.

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Sunderland’s friendly at the Keepmoat Stadium tonight is being hailed by excited supporters as “better than nothing.”

 What do pre-season results mean? Well, they always give the elders of the Wearside Whinging Association something to chew on, as they can deride wins for being substandard fare against lesser opposition, while defeats can only be portents of disaster.

We just want all the players to be in complete working order on August 8. That is all that matters.

 Before 2010-11 Sunderland played six, won three, drew one and lost two friendlies. Pretty mediocre given the general level of opposition, but it prefaced Sunderland’s best season since their last promotion; their solitary top-half finish.

 Before last season the friendlies yielded six wins, one draw and one defeat. Rather impressive, but it was followed by a season of struggle.

 Prior to 2013-14 they played five, won four and lost one, which was also encouraging, except that it too was followed by a season of struggle.

 In 2012-13 it was played six, won one, drew one, lost four. This too was succeeded by a season of ...

 You get the picture. Pre-seasons provide variety for Sunderland. The real seasons don’t. So to return to the question; what do these results mean?

 Well done if you answered “nothing.” These games are important because they make the players match fit and offer a chance to experiment. But the scorelines are of little consequence. Victory tonight is still preferable to defeat, but neither would be especially significant.

 For those who still feel perturbed at Sunderland’s inability to win nine-nil against Toronto last week, there is solace to be found from the recent results of other Premier League clubs.

 These include; Walsall 1 Aston Villa 1, Mansfield Town 1 Leicester City 1, Portland Timbers 4 Newcastle United 3, Brentford 2 Stoke City 0, Nottingham Forest 1 Swansea City 1, Sydney FC 0 Tottenham 1, Charlton Athletic 0 West Ham 0, Sheffield United 2 Newcastle United 2. 

 Pre-season matches fail to thrill at every club. We just want all the players to be in complete working order on August 8. That is all that matters.

 There may be a tinge of envy that Manchester City played Vietnam two days before Sunderland were shoved onto the Jolly bus to Doncaster, but try not to worry about it.

 There will be no deficit of worry when the proper footy begins.