Sunderland, Sunderland, Sunderland. When will you lot learn.
By Paul Marsden
Wednesday 25 May 2011 09:58:00
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The derby day banter this year has been awesome.  Despite it boiling over into some pretty unsavoury scenes it has been fantastic once again.  It was a massive miss from the 2009/10 calendar and like all fans, both mackems and mags I am over the moon that it has returned.  There is nothing better in football than getting one over on the old enemy.  Tell me though, when will the unwashed learn?

For as long as I can remember the rabble down the road has been slumming around in our shadows.  We have been through times of trouble, uncertainty and crazy miss-management yet we still manage to hold onto that ‘north east top dog’ status.  The mackems would never agree of course.  I wouldn’t expect them to, but to me this is pure fact. It seems to me it is national opinion.  You ask any outsider, even when we sank to the championship. They will say Newcastle United.  What makes us better? Players, Stadium, fan base, history and most importantly head to head results.  I can’t see a comparison.  It is an opinion based on years and years worth of stats, information and viewing.  No matter how much that pisses off the red and whites. 

This season’s derby matches made it one hundred and forty three in all and were maybe more hotly anticipated than the one hundred and forty one that went before.  To me the sides in terms of squad, manager and form were as close as I can remember in my life time.  The mackems were more confident than us, they expected to do us.  We were nervous, we were unsure.  You just couldn’t call it.  You couldn’t bare it.  The build up to the home derby game was just plain scary.  The mackems were maybe slight favourites going in but the fear of losing to these scumbags in our own back yard was, well, not even worth thinking about.

What unfolded that day was something quite amazing.  Something very special.  Something that will stay with me forever.  We absolutely battered them.  A thoroughbred red and whiter would say that they bottled it, they didn’t turn up.  This may be true and was a small factor in their demise.  We out fought the scum, we out played the scum and us, the St James Park faithful completely out sang the scum.  Some of them left at half time and most were gone after seventy minutes, dozy Titus was sent off and the chorus of “Steve Bruce, hes got a big fat nose” rang out.  All of this confirms that we humiliated and still are humiliating that horrible lot from down the A19.  It was an easy victory, a fabulous day.  What on earth were we worried about?  Sitting in the gods, metres from the enemy waving my jangling keys at the miserable, traumatised suffering red and white muppets (the ones that were left anyway) felt so god damn good.  We had done them in.  Good and proper.

The return fixture, only a few weeks down the line was equally anticipated.  Yet the feeling going into this one was so much different.  You always do get those same derby day nerves, there is no avoiding that.  This time though I felt like that pressure to perform just wasn’t there.  I still wanted to do them; I would’ve loved to stuff them. But as long as we went there and didn’t get embarrassed the way that they did at our place, all would be well.  I was always confident.  Going into this one the St James demolition had helped us massively.  We were still buzzing.  The pressure was on them.  They had to beat us and beat us well.  The mackems were hell bent on revenge and had set themselves up for all sorts of embarrassment.  Mrs Doubtfire had put himself in the firing line with his victory song announcement, using words like “when” and “after”.  In the heads of fans, players and Steve Bruce, the mackems already had this game won.  Steve ‘Turncoat’ Bruce deserves all the stick he gets.

 We took to the Stadium of Shite and just like at St James a few weeks earlier our boys made us proud. Again we out fought and outplayed them.  Despite only managing to watch this on some dodgy foreign channel the only voices we could hear were that of pure black and white.  Real fans.  We out did them again.  We left with a very harsh draw but we had once again battered them.  For weeks before the mackems had been lining up readymade excuses while also digging at us with you have no chance jibes and after scraping to their luckiest point of the season they have been left battered and bruised.  We have really rattled them this time and it appears that this is where the wheels fall off.  There was anger and fury on the terraces when the red and whites realised that the side they had been poking at for the best part of twelve months were doing them. They realised how lucky they had been.  We had forced Darren Bent and friends into submission.  This made up his mind.  He has now realised that he will never fulfil any ambition in that run down town and even relegation bound Villa can provide a more stable, happier home for the admittedly fantastic goal scorer.  I’m allowed to say that now. 

In many quarters something that I cannot quite believe has come to fruition.  The more realistic (or trying to avoid the jip) mackem admitting all of the above.  Some have actually refrained from the ‘we are ahead in the league’ garbage.  We know that, but we know how close it is and we know what we all care about up here.  We also heard what you lot were saying before the game.  Yes the league is important, but my god you lot wanted to beat us.  You have made a nice home for yourself in the shadows of this big, black and white club.  Know your role.

Transfer window thoughts

So at the time of writing we are mid way through January and in all honesty it seems nothing really has happened.  We seem to of been rumoured as to have an interest in everybody and there granny.  I even heard that Steve Wraith and Barry Hindmarsh were discussing temporary loan deals, much in a Sol Campbell like capacity.  We have heard mentions of Robbie Keane, David Bentley, Shaun Wright-Phillips and even the legend that is David Beckham.  How true any of these are I don’t know.  One that did sound very true was the Jay Bothroyd talks.  As a player I do rate Bothroyd, awesome at championship level and could most likely do a job in the top league with his new found maturity.  A partner for Andy Carroll though, maybe not.  I don’t see them playing together; if he does come id love him to prove me wrong.  There has been a murmur that due to the form of #leonbestismint and Shola that Mr Pardew may be looking to strengthen elsewhere first.  Surely not.  Everyone on this planet can see we need a natural proven finisher.  Dare I say it, in the Kevin Philips mould?  Somebody who can play off Carroll. 

I do feel that we have missed a trick with Yakubu; he is a proven goal getter at this level and could have proved an asset.  I didn’t hear of any interest from us but why the hell has he gone to Leicester.  He is better than that.  Would of been a cracking loan deal. 

Somebody I feel that we should most definitely look at is Kevin Doyle, again I haven’t heard of any interest so not looking to kick off any rumours and I have already mentioned this on the website.  But why no body is bidding on this guy I don’t know and if they are we are definitely not finding out about it.  Regardless of his contract situation at Wolves surely the move would make sense.  It is realistic.   Wouldn’t command a super fee, his wages are realistic and surely he would jump at the chance of playing at St James.  He has proven himself to be a real good all-round player with an eye for goal whilst playing for some pretty poorly performing sides. (Granted readings first year was canny) Imagine what he could do in a half decent side, alongside the Carrolls, Bartons and soon Ben Arfas.  It would be nice but like I say this just my opinion.  Me saying who id like.  I’ve heard nothing even resembling this. 

We definitely need to strengthen the squad as a whole but for me the position alongside big Andy needs to be seriously looked at.  A good sidekick can make a man great. 

Paul Marsden

Catch me on twitter @paulmarsdenNUFC

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