What’s the point? I realise I probably shouldn’t start an article with such off putting rhetoric but really, what’s the point to Sunderland v West Ham United?
One team who are absolutely doomed and another who aren’t very good but, after a win last week, are almost certain to be plying their trade in the Premier League next season.
Even a Sunderland win would feel hollow as it would be too little, too late. It’s a continuation of the apathy surrounding the club and it’s led to me struggling to get excited about what used to be my favourite part of a weekend – going to watch Sunderland at home.
Saturday will be painfully predictable. I’ll make my way to the Metro and tell myself that “West Ham have struggled defensively lately, so our goal drought is sure to end today.” Once I reach Sunderland and have a couple of pints, my optimism will grow, as I remember that Lee Cattermole is going to be sharper today and he won’t let the lads crumble.
At two o’clock, when I’m starting to reach something approaching excitement, a glance at social media reveals another head-scratcher of a team selection and the grim reality creeps back in. As I walk over the bridge, surrounded by thousands who still turn up despite the banal certainty of how today will end, I begin to hope that I just see something to be positive about. If not for this season, but for next seasons promotion push.
The match gets underway, neither side will particularly take control or look very threatening. There’s the odd set piece from either side, nothing to really get you out of your seat though. I’ll tell myself “at least we’re in the game” and that hope I just can’t seem to get rid of starts to establish itself inside the pit of my stomach.
No sooner have I thought that and the away side have taken the lead. It wasn’t a move that looked particularly dangerous, it was easily preventable and sadly, totally unsurprising. I look around the ground and no one is angry, no one has the energy to be angry any more.
We all slump off at half time and no one even bothers to check the scores of the teams around us because we know it doesn’t matter. We all know that this team doesn’t do fightbacks.
The second half is a dull blur. The opposition are organised and keep us at bay with relative ease. There’s a few opportunities for West Ham to hurt us on the counter but they can’t take them because, despite being so far ahead of Sunderland, they still don’t have much of a cutting edge. Wahbi Khazri will warm up for 20 minutes but never take the field, and our best chance will be Jermain Defoe shooting from around 25 yards. It’s excruciating but it’s almost over. Not just the game but the season.
The final whistle goes and I’ll trudge off. I still manage to be angry, even though I tell myself after every game that I know we’re down and that I won’t let “them” disappoint me any further. They still manage it though and, I suppose, you have to admire their commitment to our collective misery.
David Moyes will then come out with his usual “we were unlucky, the opposition we’re just better than us, we can’t expect much more” shtick, as if he can’t influence any of the above.
I hope to be proved wrong but this game just feels like the latest episode in a TV show that has run out of ideas, so keeps rehashing the same old script. Over and over again.