Sunderland are looking elsewhere for amusement
Club yet to play at home in the league
12 September ~ International breaks always seem to fall at an inconvenient time for domestic football. This one is no different, especially if you support Sunderland. A summer of steadily rising worry was converted into optimistic hysteria by the signings of Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher on August 24. Both were due to make their debuts at home to Reading the following day but the game was rained off. Sunderland haven't played a league home match yet and won't until mid-September. It doesn't feel like the season has really begun.
Sunderland's first game was a creditable draw away to Arsenal. The week after the Reading washout, Fletcher and Johnson made their first appearances in a 2-0 League Cup victory over Morecambe. Fletcher scored two goals last weekend as we ended Swansea's perfect start in a 2-2 draw. All the signs are fairly encouraging. Hopes are particularly high for Johnson – it's a long time since Sunderland signed an England international in his prime.
While I would have liked to see more football before this enforced break, there has been some entertainment. Newcastle's Ryan Taylor suffered a nasty knee injury in their Europa League game against Atromitos. Before their next game, against Aston Villa, the whole team came out in tracksuits emblazoned with "Ryan Taylor over the wall".
This refers to a Newcastle chant which began after Taylor's free-kick winner in the derby last season. Taylor has scored other goals over other walls but this is a clear reference to Sunderland. I'm not offended or upset. It's just that something so petty, clearly sanctioned by the highest levels of the club, seems rather pathetic. Rivalry and mockery I'm quite happy with but this has a distinct whiff of Mike Ashley.
Where does this commemoration end? Taylor hasn't suffered genuine tragedy, lost his career or even been accused of racism. He's had an unfortunate injury that will stop him from playing for a few months. Does every player with a bad break or sprain need a mention? What about those players who don't get one? It can't be good for dressing room harmony.
Now Luis Suárez has had a T-shirt and Ryan Taylor a tracksuit top, maybe other clubs could move into celebrating their players on other items of clothing. The merchandising opportunities are endless. There's plenty to think about while waiting for our next match. No wonder the game against Liverpool on September 15 can't come quickly enough. Ed Upright
On the subject...