Despite Progress, Reputations Still Precede Sunderland

"underestimate Sunderland at your peril"

Despite Progress, Reputations Still Precede Sunderland

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March 19th, 2012

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Things have been brilliant at Sunderland since Martin O’Neill arrived at the club, or as some see it, the start of the revolution. Quite annoyingly for a writer such as myself, who is used to grumbling and complaining about the club I love, there isn’t really much to complain about.

Conversely, there’s only so many times you can say “hey, everything’s brilliant now”… Don’t worry, I’m not going down that road, I’m going back to complaining.

Reputations to some, are everything. They’re not to me personally, but I am becoming increasingly narked by the reputation which Sunderland, and some of our players seem to still have despite the fact we’re clearly a changing club, on the rise.

Let’s start with the most obvious example, and that’s Lee Cattermole. Boooo, he’s a thug, he can’t play football, he just breaks people’s legs…. Yawn.

That’s generally what’s levelled at him on a weekly basis by many folk who’ve barely bothered to even watch him this season, with one of the main points of any argument being the recent Tyne-Wear derby.

Whilst it’s nigh on impossible to defend his actions post-game, it really was a rare occurrence for a man who has changed dramatically since the start of the revolution on Wearside.

In the game itself, there was the first minute booking, his only foul of the game. Meanwhile Cheik Tiote, cleaner than clean according to Alan Pardew proceeded to rack up five fouls before the referee even bothered to speak to him.

One of the main changes to our game over recent months has been our transformation to a counter-attacking team, in which Cattermole has excelled at winning the ball back, ranking among the highest interceptors of the ball in the league. His foul count is down too, to an average of 2 per game over the season. Could you really label someone who commits two fouls per game as a thug, brute, and miscreant?

Another who’s reputation goes before him is Nicklas Bendtner. Bendtner, like Cattermole, has been exceptional in recent weeks, yet is still dismissed by many as a bit of a joke.

He seems to be enjoying his time here, and he’s getting us crucial goals, leading the line well like a seasoned pro. He might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s very effective.

When I read that he could be off to the Bundesliga or Russia in the summer for £4m, I thought it was a joke. Genuinely. One other news outlet speculated that it would be the best £4m that Arsene Wenger would ever make.

£4m for Bendtner would be an absolute snip, and I do hope if that’s the asking price we make an offer.

Our excellent Chairman, Ellis Short, recently spoke about having to change the perception of Sunderland as a club, and it’s something I agree with strongly. Aside from the above, there are still pundits up and down the land saying that the so-called bigger teams should be getting results “from the likes of Sunderland”… Behave and pay some attention.

We’re a transformed team, we’re not the pushovers that Steve Bruce was in charge of, and it’s about time this was recognised on a national level.

Underestimate Sunderland at your peril.

Simon Walsh

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