THERE are phrases that have little if any intrinsic meaning in themselves, but somehow manage to convey much.
On Wearside an oft-used expression is “Why mind here.” In itself, gibberish, but we know exactly what the speaker is attempting to express.
Last Saturday evening I heard one gentleman ask his friend what the result of the Leicester-Sunderland game had been.
The answer: “Nil-nil. And it WAS a nil-nil” – spoke more than it said. On the surface nonsensical, but it told all.
It is unlikely that ballads will be written about Saturday’s game, but it wasn’t all bad.
In fact, it was a big bucket of thrills compared to the Burnley match – and a point, plus a clean sheet are always useful, especially away from home.
Another dreary goalless draw at Loftus Road in August would have made the world, or at least the league table seem a little more palatable.
Sunderland would now be a place higher and Queens Park Rangers would be an imposing eight points behind them.
With the horribly obvious exceptions of Southampton and Arsenal, Sunderland’s defence has mainly been solid this season.
The team as a whole played pretty well in the first 45 minutes at Leicester. The feeling at half time was that more of the same would see an away win.
But Sunderland and the match itself deteriorated. The second half felt like one long foul.
The dispiriting element to the game was its predictability. A draw was not a dream result for either side, but defeat would have been something of a boot to the gizzard – and it showed.
Leicester had failed to score in their previous four games. Sunderland had blanked in five of their 11.
The Entertainers – as neither team is known – gave us exactly what we expected. Neither side should have settled for a point in this fixture, but in the end they both did.
Last week, we urged Sunderland to be a little more adventurous and imaginative; not go completely Lewis Carroll, just be a mite bolder.
At least Adam Johnson was given a rare full game. He was quiet, but both of Sunderland’s best moments came from him; a wonderful flick to set up Steven Fletcher and a 30-yard shot that Schmeichel managed to shove round the post. On another day ... and all that.
But against a team that looked there for the taking, Sunderland played two containing midfielders, Liam Bridcutt alongside Lee Cattermole, for the final 20 minutes. Will Buckley, who could have had some fun running against tired legs, was not introduced until the 86th minute.
Stranger still, a third substitution was never made. What would Jack Rodwell have done, even if he had only been given 10 minutes? We will never know.
Seven days ago we suggested less caution. The good news, other than another point for Sunderland, is that we can look at last week’s View From The Bridge and say “we told you so.” But even smugness does not provide the same enjoyment or satisfaction as a goal or two.
I haven’t opened a window on my advent calendar yet and I am already fed up with the football season.
HOWEVER this Saturday, most Sunderland supporters would happily watch a game even duller than the one at Burnley if it were to yield another point.
This assumes that a game even duller than the one at Burnley is actually feasible.
This weekend sees the visit of Chelsea, England’s most obnoxious football club along with their fickle, glory-hunting fans, creepy owner, loutish captain and the cheap little man who manages the team. A warm welcome to them all.
Odds of 8/1 against a home win are on offer, which does not seem especially generous. A repeat of last season’s result at ropey old Stamford Bridge would provide some much needed excitement, but no one is building their hopes up.
As Sunderland found then, a team beating Chelsea does not only receive three points. They also get to witness some first-rate tantrum throwing and thuggery.
In April we were treated to Ramires’ cowardly forearm smash on Sebastian Larsson just before half-time.
Then a boorish little coach called Rui Faria, was sent from the dugout for a chucking a quite disgraceful wobbler because of the completely correct decision to award Sunderland’s winning penalty.
You may also recall José Mourinho’s amusing, unwarranted, graceless, but hardly unexpected huff after the game, which took the form of a shovel-full of defamatory sarcasm aimed at the referee, Mike Dean.
May the better team win on Saturday.
No cancel that. May Sunderland win. How else are will we get to enjoy such oafish petulance?
MALKY Mackay is currently the subject of an ongoing Football Association investigation into racist, sexist and homophobic text messages sent during his time at Cardiff City.
This was a gem that his erstwhile boss Vincent Tan (perhaps not as mad as we thought) had been polishing for eight months, before using it to torpedo Mackay’s move to Crystal Palace in August.
There are no such qualms at Wigan Athletic. Other than reportedly inserting a clause into Mackay’s contract that will put him back out on his ear if the allegations against him stick, they aren’t bothered.
All things considered, it is a peculiar appointment and one that has already cost Wigan a sponsor, as well as attracting the ire of ex-player Jason Roberts and the anti-racism organisation Kick It Out.
Wigan chairman Dave Whelan tried palliation with the following comments to The Guardian. Perhaps he should have tried harder.
Attempting to explain why he felt remarks Mackay made about a Jewish agent Phil Smith were not offensive, Mr Whelan said: “Jewish people chase money more than everybody else.”
He also said it was “nothing” to call a Chinese person a “Chink” and that any Englishman who said he had not done must be lying.
This allowed Vincent Tan to fill his boots, saying: “This is a racist chairman hiring a racist manager.”
So Mr Whelan then gave an interview to the BBC to explain his explanation.
He said: “I did say that the Jewish people chase money. But I also said that they chase money like the English people chase money.
“Jewish people are very similar to the English people in the desire to work hard and get money.”
This would imply an inconceivability that someone could be simultaneously Jewish and English.
He then attempted to waffle away his “Chink” comment with: “There’s all kinds of names given to people.
“If somebody called me a limey I wouldn’t take it as an insult.”
This futile attempt at making a parallel did not help; certainly not as much as complete silence would have done. Thus far an explanation of the explanation of the explanation has not been forthcoming.
He also said: “We’ve got to be careful what we say.”
Dave Whelan is unlikely to have set out to deliberately offend and it should be taken into account that he is of a different era (unlike Malky Mackay). But his appointment of Mackay and the subsequent continued digging by someone already in a hole is something that few can understand.
Perhaps he should head hunt the chief of PR at Sheffield United.
Even supporters of Dave Whelan are bemused by his recent interviews. Never before has he spoken to a reporter without mentioning that he broke his leg during the 1960 FA Cup final – because he did you know.
IT must mean a lot to Malky Mackay that he has the backing of football’s most respected manager, a man with integrity coming out of his lug-holes – Goodold Harry Redknapp.
Goodold said of Malky: “‘E ‘as made a mistake but lots of people make mistakes in life. ‘Arf the people ‘oo judge ‘im ‘ave probably made more mistakes.”
This means that the other ‘arf of the people ‘oo ‘ave judged Malky ‘ave probably made fewer mistakes. So are they more qualified to judge?
‘Arry was similarly ‘elpful when Sunderland appointed a fascist as manager.
Upon Paolo Di Canio’s disastrous appointment, he said: “It’s amazing how suddenly he’s a fascist now he’s at Sunderland and wasn’t at Swindon.
“No one mentioned anything about him when he was at Swindon.”
If we overlook the fact that everything in that statement is untrue – then he had a point.
To further oil the cogs at the Stadium of Light, he added: “It would be a lie if I was to sit here and tell you I knew, really, what a fascist was.”
We could only thank him for this enlightenment.
But the pedants wanted to ignore ‘Arry and mutter about trivialities, such as Paolo’s decision in 2010 to attend the funeral of a delightful gentleman called Paolo Signorelli, who had been jailed after a 1980 terrorist attack in Bologna.
Why were people harping on about it? That attack only killed 85 people. Political correctness gone mad.
Malky Mackay is only the latest manager to benefit from the Redknapp panegyric.
In May 2013, Goodold commended the appointment of David Moyes at Old Trafford, saying: “He is a fantastic boy and a top manager and I think he will do a great job at Manchester United.
“‘E’s the perfect choice.”
In November 2009, Avram Grant was given the job at Portsmouth after ‘Arry decreed: “‘E would be my choice if inny-wan was to take it.
“‘Oo-ever they appoint, I ‘ope they get it right and the club can get orf the bottom of the table.
“I’m sure they will. I’m sure they’ll stay up.”
Avram Grant resigned six months later and Portsmouth were relegated with bells on.
But he barely broke his stride. In September 2010, with Avram now four months into doing a pretty bad job at West Ham, ‘Arry had his back.
He prophesised: “I’m sure he will do a good job there.
“I think e’s there for the long-term
“I certainly don’t see West ‘Am being one of those teams that’s going to struggle to stay up.”
Avram was shown the egress the following May and the happy Hammers finished bottom, with almost as many bells on as Portsmouth.
Last December ‘Arry said of Tim Sherwood’s appointment at Tottenham: “They’ve made a great decision to give him the job.”
Six months later, Sherwood had also been given his bus fare.
It would be a little cruel to reprint Goodold’s positive comments on the appointment of Glen Hoddle as his coach at QPR (now bottom of the league), or the confident noises he made about himself before the three relegations in his career. After all, he could hardly say we’re-doomed-so-get-used-to-it.
But it is strange that his soothsaying on the ill-starred appointments at other clubs has not taught him, like Dave Whelan, the value of silence.
Good luck Malky.
OTHER news at Leicester City is that their former striker, Emile Heskey, would like to return to the club.
He has been in Australia for two years, but has not played since April and is now 36 years old.
Despite all this, those who remember him are confident that there will have been no deterioration in his pace, his finishing ability, the accuracy of his heading, his positional awareness, his first touch....
No doubt his “unseen work” remains second to none.