Back to the bread and butter – at last

First published in Sunderland

Thankfully, another international break weekend is over and we can get back to some proper football, or as close to proper football as Sunderland AFC can play anyway. At least normality will be resumed anyway.

Of course, normality in the world of Sunderland AFC is a sense of tension, nervousness and a lingering axe over the head of our manager, but perhaps other player's futures also hang in the balance.

I'll start with Steve Bruce, just to get it out the way really. For those wondering, I think he's got until at least Aston Villa at home before Ellis Short begins to jump to any decisions. Let's face it, despite their recent struggles Arsenal away is a bit of a write-off. Bolton away is no easy place to go either, but defeat at home to the Villains could spell the end of his tenure.

Much talk is of Martin O'Neill coming in. I'm fine with that, but I'd like us to aim a little higher at first. Fell free to shoot me down here, but I'd like to see us taking a run at David Moyes.

As I pointed out in my appearance on Sports Tonight TV, Moyes' chance to move to Arsenal, Manchester United or another big hitter seems to have gone. We hold two trump cards over Everton - a stadium, and money. Two things Moyes craves badly.

I realise some are now reading this through tears of laughter at the mere thought, but what's the worst that can happen? They'll say no? That's OK. Martin O'Neill will still be scratching round the Managerial Dole Office.

Another whose future could well be in jeopardy is our captain, Lee Cattermole. We speculated on our own Podcast that if Catts comes back after a recent absence, that there was two ways he could go. A) he'd have learned his lesson about rash tackles and become a better player, or B) he'd come back and try TOO hard, and be even more foolish. Sadly, it was option B which Cattermole took against West Bromwich Albion.

Cattermole this week has come out with the outlandish statements that he's only made one bad tackle. In his career. Sorry Lee, you've made more than one this season, never mind your entire career.

Catts also had some words about his positioning and role within the team citing he's not a defensive midfielder, but he doesn't seem to have the range to be a playmaker, nor the technique to be attacking. I did admire him, but it could be time to cut our losses in January or the summer.

Lastly, heading to the Emirates on Sunday, we'll be missing Nicklas Bendtner - a huge blow to the team. Nicklas has exceeded my own expectations already with a fine run of form, and I'm desperately hopeful we can hang on to him.

While he might only have one goal, that one itself a touch fortuitous, his all round play has been a joy to watch, and he and Stephane Sessegnon look more dangerous than any partnership we've had recently.

Both have a tricky, unpredictable creativity to their play. Both have a first touch not seen on Wearside in decades, while both are unafraid to shoot from distance.

That said, they're both very different too with Bendtner foraging a lone path while Sessegnon buzzes around him. The link-up between them is one of few plus points this season.

As stated however, we'll need to try and get something from Arsenal without Bendtner. An opportunity lies now with Ji Dong-Won and/or Connor Wickham. Both have looked good coming off the bench, but I fear a struggle.

I hope I'm wrong, but without a turnaround in fortunes, we'll have to get used to playing without technically gifted players like Bendtner. Let's hope Sunday is not a sneak-peek at our future.


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