Latics look to Black Cats for luck – Sunderland preview

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Sod Steve Bruce, forget Lee Cattermole and don’t worry a jot about what might happen with Manyor Figueroa.  It’s not even about their overbearing, disillusioned but ultimately insecure Cyber Warriors and their “keep saying we’re a big club and eventually someone will believe us” attitude.  I just don’t like Sunderland, and I blame Eric Gates. 

It’s probably wrong to base your whole opinion of a football club on two games, but none of us would be here if football was all rational and whathaveyou.

Why Eric Gates?  Well, little more than him being a pouting, whingeing, diving, too big in the ego for the third division has been who conned his way through 90 minutes at Springfield Park.  Think Teddy Sherringham without the England caps or the glamour model girlfriend (or at least I hope so or else there really is hope for us all).  Not even the half time mudslide could turn my mood.

So in short, Sunderland fans will have to forgive me id I get overly critical, it’s not my fault, it’s Eric’s.

Sunderland is one of those games that feels like it’s bigger than it ends up being on the pitch.  It’s probably something to do with our time in the Championship together, the “night that the whole of Sunderland moved to Wigan and there were on three Latics fans in the whole ground and they’d travelled from the North East anyway”.  This season’s games have been given an obvious added edge and today’s even more so.

As if a 9-1 defeat weren’t enough, the diversion tactics just made things worse.  Instead of spending the week analysing exactly where things went wrong against Spurs (we were especially crap for 30-odd minutes, they were especially good, that’s about it) the press have spent the week laughing at Dave Whelan and trying to draw Bobby and Steve Bruce into a war of words about Bruce’s ‘dodgy signings’, so it’s probably best to get that out of the way as well.

Yes, Bruce brought us Palacios, Cattermole, Figueroa, N’Zogbia and Rodallega, but he also brought us King, Kapo, De Ridder, Kingston, Cho, Watson and Edman.  Whilst he might have secured £40m worth of transfers to stabilise the club’s finances, it left us with a squad heavy on the second group of players, albatrosses on the side’s backs, players, who in the main, are just as unlikely to burst into the first team as they are to get picked up in the transfer market.

It’s not Bruce’s fault, there’s no doubt that he signed those players with good intentions, but it’s just as daft to pretend that Bobby hasn’t been financially hamstrung by at least half a team’s worth of salaries that he’s little to no chance of shifting.  Which had nothing to do with why we lost last week, and equally as little to do with what’s going to happen this afternoon.

Which, all things being equal, should be a good game. 

Bruce’s Latics side, somewhere along the line, gained the reputation of being a long ball side, and yet they were at their best when the ball was on the floor.  I’ve not seen much of Sunderland this season, but I’d expect more of the same.  Ultimately the Spurs result is simply the most extreme example of the inconsistency that has beleaguered the progress of plan B-obby, and if egos have been sufficiently patched up then there’s no reason why Latics can’t bounce back in good style.

But if there’s one thing that we’ve learned this season it’s not to make predictions about Latics and I’m playing safe on this one by not talking about selection problems for Sunderland and a Latics forward line that must be getting desperate to put some doubts behind it.  Instead of making predictions I’ll go with wishes and whilst a Latics rout would be nice I think that all I really want from this is a less fragile looking Latics even if it ends up with me being bored by teatime.

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