Forget league position for now – beating whingeing Newcastle is all that matters

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Well, what can you say about that? Football is a strange game, and there was certainly something strange about that match. 

After a first half in which we barely had a kick, we somehow went in at the break a man and a goal up. 

In the second half, despite never looking brilliant, we still managed to grab ourselves another two goals and bring up the now customary 3-0 scoreline.

If I was inclined to be negative, which to be fair I generally am, I might look at the fact that our defence often looked shaky, and other than the goals, we basically created no chances of note. 

But come on. This was the sixth successive derby win and the fourth time in a row a new manager has beaten Newcastle in their second game.

If you can’t sit back and accept the brilliance of such an occasion, then what can you really enjoy?

The Magpies may have dominated possession, but despite facing a side, especially in the first half, that were low on form and confidence playing poorly, they utterly failed to capitalise. 

Steve McClaren may have cried wolf in the post-match interviews, but what really did they do to deserve more from this game?

A profoundly weak penalty appeal and a decent chance saved excellently by Pantilimon were the sum total of their supposedly glittering attack’s offerings. 

Meanwhile Sunderland, so often lamentably awful at taking chances, came up with two outstanding counter-attacks and a well-executed corner routine.

We may have created little else, but for once we showed a real clinical edge up front.  

Too often when we win the ball back in our own half, we are far too slow to counter-attack and make the most of it.

If you look at some of the most successful sides today, a lot of their best moments come through swift counters.

It’s worth praising the fact that in this match we drove forward with real intent, and came away with goals to show for it, after regaining possession.

Likewise, it often seems like we regard corners primarily as a chance to hammer the ball into the defender at the front post until they are unconscious, rather than as a great attacking opportunity.

Not this time. Yann M’Vila’s sweetly struck shot was tucked home by Billy Jones to give the lads some vital security. 

Younes Kaboul had one or two hair raising moments in the game, and certainly hasn’t had the best start to his Sunderland career, but he produced something that will live long in the memory here.

A rampaging charge from a centre-back is always a joy, but for the Frenchman to actually swing in such a perfect cross was both awe-inspiring and utterly, utterly hilarious. 

Overall, this may not be a performance like the first half of the West Ham game that you can aspire to for the rest of the season, but it was the sixth derby win in a row.

They say the form book goes out of the window before derbies.

But afterwards perhaps the big picture does too.

Form and league position doesn’t matter for a time, and the sheer joy of beating Newcastle is all the matters.

For now the Mags’ faces turning red and white as they whinge at the injustice of it all is a good enough reward.

The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction from Dick Advocaat. You can stream it direct from or subscribe to it on iTunes