Chris Coleman’s home debut was, I’m afraid, merely Sunderland’s latest disaster. Yet again they lost to opposition that was rather bad, but not bad enough.
The “New manager: same old rubbish” murmur has been murmured. This is a golden era for the murmuring community.
But I have to defend Sunderland here. It wasn’t just the same old rubbish. This was a completely new strand of rubbish that even the Stadium of Light faithful are unused to.
Barring its final seconds, the entire first half was uneventful. Sunderland had done little of note, while Reading had been even worse. The visitors were there to be beaten.
Then came Callum McManaman’s match-turning second yellow card. It has been claimed he was unfortunate and that he couldn’t help but handle the ball.
But I have watched the incident a few times and struggle to agree. I can’t for the life of me see why he couldn’t just have diverted Adam Matthews’ cross into the net with either his head or chest.
However, even more flummoxing was a passage of play in the second half with the score at 0-1.
That was when two Reading midfielders stood 10 yards apart in the centre circle and tapped the ball repeatedly to each other – under no challenge whatsoever – for what seemed like an eternity.
It was like watching two six year-olds practising their passing on Roker Beach. Indeed, from my seat that appeared to be the approximate age one of them. He was dwarfed by Lee Cattermole.
I can’t recall ever seeing something quite like it in professional football and the crowd was justifiably infuriated.
That said, a lack of desire and professional pride is Sunderland’s defining trait and is perhaps the biggest of Chris Coleman’s innumerable challenges.
But as we say, with some regularity round these parts; at least the new man will have learned something. And he can’t be blamed for the Reading result.
Their next game is at Molineux on Saturday. Wolves’ home advantage, biggest transfer budget in the division and narrow 33-point lead over Sunderland, possibly makes them slight favourites.
That’s as may be. But there is something that is simultaneously the biggest cause for both hope and alarm for Sunderland supporters.
There isn’t a single particularly good team in the whole of the Championship. So let’s just get at them.
Not for the first time we ask: has anyone got a better idea?
Special mention must go to the Reading fans who made the trip from Berkshire four days ago.
They were truly the dullest visiting supporters to arrive on Wearside this season.
There being a minimum of 364 days between home victories at the Stadium of Light, these are fertile times for those who wish to taunt Sunderland.
Apart from that, the reception and administration of taunts is an accepted part of life for footy fans generally.
Sunderland supporters might have some decent taunts of their own. We’ll come back to you on that one.
Regrettably, they are by now inured to taunts from opposition followers. On Saturday this placed the onus on the Reading contingent to regale everyone with something witty and original.
Perhaps they should record an album. Football Songs That Were Mildly Amusing For Two Minutes In About 1983 would be an ideal stocking filler.
The album’s title isn’t at all funny or snappy and therefore quite apposite.
Highlights would include the done-to-death Is There A Fire Drill, the older-than-God Can We Play You Every Week and the never-funny-in-the-first-place You’re **** And You Know You Are.
As they used to say at Ronco, this record is not available in the shops. Mercifully.