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Well, well, well. A win. An actual real life Premier League win. And what a good win it was too. People will point to Bolton's home record and just how wretched they were on the day, but that second half performance at the Reebok was as authoritative as anything we have ever seen from Sunderland at Premier League level, so appropriate credit is due. It was good to see the manager finally trust the attacking talent the squad has at its disposal. One area you could not possibly accuse Bolton of being weak is the centre of their defence, and Connor Wickham absolutely bossed them with both physicality and quality.
The challenge will now be whether the momentum can be maintained. For me, the 4-3-1-2 system that was tried in the second half was a revelation. It saw Stephane Sessegnon surrounded with players who could provide him with the ball in good areas. Colback and Vaughan behind him if we can play through midfield, and two strikers ahead of him capable of holding the ball if we need to go a little longer. It was a brave decision, but one that saw us finally throw caution to the wind and impose OUR game, rather than worrying about the opposition.
I remember feeling similarly after the home win against Wigan last season. Through the injury to Gyan, Bruce had stumbled across a new shape to the team that quite simply worked and had us all buzzing. Presented with time to prepare for a home game the following week, however, Bruce reverted to the losing formula and the momentum was lost. Will he now have the courage to finally dispense with the miserable and antiquated flat midfield four that has served him so poorly? Will he have the strength to allow the side that played so well the time required to build an on-field understanding and some partnerships? Time will tell.
My blog was not supposed to deal with the Sunderland manager this week. In fact I had promised myself I'd do all I could to avoid it. But it would be wrong to be so outspoken and condemning with my criticism when he gets it wrong without taking a little time to afford him some credit where it is due, and this week is most certainly one of those occasions.
So, looking forward, this weekend's game with Aston Villa looks all set-up to be a cracker. Two teams with fluctuating form and fragile confidence slogging it out in front of a hostile crowd baying for blood. Not just any blood, of course. We are not savages. The blood we want belongs to Darren Bent, and it is largely figurative.
And in true Brucie-fashion, Bent has been spouting a unique brand of total rubbish to the press and expecting us to be stupid enough to believe it. He said that 'out of respect' for us, he won't celebrate if he scores. Well isn't that lovely. He repeated his tired old nonsense about why he left, citing 'football reasons' and all that, and also added that he wanted to be closer to his family and friends. He even assured us that it was not a betrayal, although added that he could understand why we would think it was.
Come on Darren, who are you trying to kid? The same people who were once daft enough to believe your professions of love for our club and your yearnings to become a legend here, mostly typed from beneath the moniker of 'the truth', I suppose. The whole interview was riddled with the contradicitons of a seasoned liar. Here is a 'truth' for you – if you told Sunderland fans it was a little bit nippy on Seaburn beach in February, we'd probably pop on a pair of shorts and douse ourselves in maximum-factor sun lotion before we ventured out to walk the dog.
And don't give us this 'close to family and friends' nonsense either. It's a total kop-out. Geography has never been a strength of mine, but even I know that Turkey isn't any closer to home than Sunderland is, and we all know how much you wanted to go there to play your football. I know they pay more money than Sunderland do, though, just like Villa do. You wish you 'had a few fond memories of playing against Newcastle', do you? Perhaps if you had faced them without a transfer request tucked into your sock, effectively reducing your team to 10 men before a ball had even been kicked, you would have.
There will be those that point out, quite reasonably, that modern football is awash with mercenaries looking after number one and constantly seeking a bigger pay-packet. That is quite true of course. So then what qualifies Darren Bent for a special slice of the disdain? Well that one is easy, because it is not the act of leaving itself that left the sour taste but the leech-like manner in which he used the club and its supporters before doing it.
He asked for trust and was given a home. The whole club accepted him as one of their own and gave him everything he needed to thrive. The city, surrounding area, and club in its entirety presented a unified front of total disgust when he was rejected by England, nurturing him with an out-pouring of support and proclamations of faith whilst the nation largely advocated Capello's decision. Yet the second he had gorged himself on an all-you-can-eat buffet of confidence, he callously detached himself from the club and moved on to a fresh feeding ground, touting the reputation he now owed to Sunderland around to the highest bidder behind the backs of the club and supporters that had unconditionally given him everything. That is the Darren Bent Sunderland story - 'A Leech's Tale'.
Ultimately, Darren Bent can say what he wants but his actions have spoken far louder than any words ever can. I, for one, won't be believing another word that comes out of his mouth ever again. I believed him before and he made a fool of me. I'm certain I am not alone in that, too. So if you are lucky enough to score on Saturday, Darren, please don't feel the need to curb your badge-kissing ways on our account in an attempted display of respect. There won't be a soul in the ground who will believe it.