Typically, Sunderland, the way things unfolded after that scabby display at Ipswich. Few would have seen five successive wins, but the lack of clean sheet in any of them could have been forecast, as could the spectacular unravelling job at Peterborough. At least it ended talk of corners being turned, let’s leave that to Lewis Hamilton.
Probably the most enjoyable evening I’ve had watching our lot, for some time, was Burnley. Semi-high from a bit of passive smoking in the yard of a local boozer, I was strongly advised to avoid but which produced canny craic with a few of our Dronfield clan, I got more than the usual dose of pre-match apprehension when I saw the Clarets’ line-up. It contained what looked like a canny blend of quality, experience and young uns given a chance to make a name for themselves.
We didn’t start too badly, until Jay Rodriguez cantered through and neatly tucked away their first decent chance in front of us. Another one of those nights, when all we’ve got to offer is a bit of piss-taking about our opponents’ town and ground? Not a bit of it. What followed was a reminder of why football has sucked us all in, namely the glorious unpredictability of it.
We had a massive let-off when they struck both posts, then a hopeful lob from a couple of miles out from Chris Wood went just wide. But in between was a cracking hour or so when we had organisation, belief, movement and confidence. And fitness. All this against a Premier League team known for working hard for everything.
Joe Hart was left muttering stuff under his breath after Wearside got the better of him again. Having originally given us a cheery wave as we reminded him, he was a poor imitation of England’s number one, we watched as he and his team-mates made heavy weather of things. After Will Grigg had taken advantage of time, space and a lucky deflection, Hart parried a Gooch effort straight on to the nut of fox in the box Tom Flanagan, then saw a nicely worked corner fall for George Dobson, who finished well.
If only we could keep it up eh? The 3-0 defeat which followed may have flattered Peterborough but few of us were surprised by it, or the performance of Marcus Maddison. Anyone wondering how he’d do against us would do well to remember the old adage about death and taxes. He’s too good for this league, simply, but then we’ve got one of those players in our ranks too, Aiden McGeady, and it wasn’t his day. Or any of those in red and white. Sure, Luke O’Nien was unlucky and his red card was quashed, but Charlie Wyke made up for it with a ‘challenge’ which could have got two reds.
A signing could have lifted the mood. But a day which started with talk of Scott Sinclair coming in (I got seriously excited until I figured it was more likely to have been Clive Sinclair) ended with a completed deal for a left-back. A Leeds workmate was quick to tell me that Laurens De Bock is “the single worst player to have ever played for us” an opinion shared by a few more of them. Then I got trolled by my phone, which corrected LDB to KDB several times as I tried passing on the news. Thankfully the red and white I was aiming for didn't buy Kevin De Bruyne’s fall from grace and left me to it.
But do you know? I’m not bothered. We’ve got excited about loan signings before, I’d only be scratching the surface if I listed the last half a dozen here, only for them to do a decent impression of me if I was dropped into our starting line-up. So, what if someone isn’t rated good enough by a Championship club? We’re miles from the Championship. Marc McNulty is supposedly nowhere near that level and yet he’s started pretty well and looks to be what we need.
After Peterborough, we could do with a game coming up soon to get us back in the zone, to get rid of the demons. Sadly, we’ve got to wait two weeks (and another bastard trip to Lancashire) thanks to our next scheduled game going for a Burton, literally. International call-ups too, FFS. Too many international fixtures, or just too many dodgy nations playing international football? You decide.
Hopefully, Laurens De Bock will be up to speed by then, not that I’m one of those calling for Denver Hume to be consigned to history. For now, though, I’ll go back to watching the Ligue 1 highlights. Maja’s just put one over for Bordeaux but there’s still Khazri, M’Vila and Kone to enjoy. Suddenly I’ve gone back a few years and am getting all misty-eyed for pink seats and Fat Sam. I tell you, it’s a fucking great place to be.