Diary Of A Season: November 2012 To February 2013

Matthew Lewis

As October passed into November, and the dark nights rolled in, Sunderland's season was becoming enveloped in an ever deepening gloom. A year on from Steve Bruce's dismissal, now his successor was beginning to be questioned.

November 1: Michael Graham shouts at me a lot on the latest Roker Report podcast. I turn to a life of alcoholism to soothe the pain. Adam Johnson ignores the whole furore - started by him hiding in the recent game against 'boro, which he bloody, sodding, did - by buying himself a red Playstation 3 with his name engraved on it.

November 3: That "massive club" from the Midlands, Aston Villa, arrive on Wearside and are easily be..what? We lost 0-1? Against VILLA?!

November 5: News breaks that the prodigal son, James McReallyWhite has suffered a hamstring Wes Brown and may not even feature during his three month spell of Wearside. An impromptu candlelit vigil is held outside the Murray Gates.

November 8: David Meyler joins Hull City on loan.

November 9: Every Nando's restaurant in the region, as well as Mama's restaurant in Newbottle, simultaneously files for bankruptcy.

November 10: Sunderland play Everton. You know the rest. James McClean refuses to wear a poppy. Twitter swallows itself whole in its own self-importance.

November 12: Stephane Sessegnon offers public support/a rallying call to Adam Johnson following the latter's first goal for the club.

November 16: Martin O'Neill rejects a loan move for Connor Wickham from Sheffield Wednesday, stating: "we cannot afford to let anyone go". Martin O'Neill soon goes on to forget his own advice.

November 18: Lee Cattermole is involved in a red card incident that leaves him as the player who is not dismissed. Fulham are so shocked by this news that they crumble to a 1-3 defeat to Sunderland. Stephane Sessegnon reminds us that he is actually quite good at football.

November 20: David Boyle predicts that the recent victory will spur Sunderland on to great things in the rest of the season. The great big tit that he is.

November 24: Sunderland lose 2-4 to West Bromwich Albion at home. Simon Mignolet commits a howler. A fan is spotted making monkey gestures at Romelu Lukaku. It isn't a good day, in truth.

November 27: Buoyed by the awe-inspiring appointment of Harry Redknapp, QPR fight their way to a mesmerisingly shit 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light. Lee Cattermole, a doubt with a knee Wes Brown before the game, lasts a colossal six minutes before exiting. It is the captain's penultimate game of the season. IN NOVEMBER.

November 28: Danny Rose issues a rallying call to his teammates.

November 30: The one year anniversary of Steve Bruce's career on Wearside. R.I.P. (Rest in pies)

December 2: Norwich City 2-1 Sunderland. My God, we are unbelievably bad in the first half. A 'Justin Bieber collaborating with will.I.am and One Direction while Nicki Minaj spiels incoherently in the corner' kind of bad. Matt Kilgallon plumbs Michael Proctor-like depths of despair. Then Connor Wickham comes on and we should probably get a point. But we don't.

December 7: Lee Cattermole's Wes Brown is confirmed to be as bad as initially feared, with the skipper ruled out for at least two months.

December 8: Chelsea win 3-1 on Wearside with Fernando Torres scoring twice. Sunderland now lie in 18th position with thirteen points from fifteen games. Martin O'Neill is asked if he "doubts himself". He scoffs.

December 10: Martin O'Neill says he is the only man for Sunderland. Jennifer Hudson, having sneaked into the Academy of Light pressroom, replies with her song, 'I'm His Only Woman'. They kiss. I worry that I actually know the name of a Jennifer Hudson song.

December 11: Sunderland thump Reading 3-0. Easily. Football is good again.

December 15: Manchester United thump Sunderland 3-1. Very easily. Football is rubbish again.

December 19: Stephane Sessegnon issues a rallying call to Connor Wickham, imploring the youngster to "keep it up!" Wickham turns to Pele for advice on how to maintain his...um...form...

December 20: Stephane Sessegnon issues a rallying call to his teammates. I'm honestly not even making these ones up.

December 22: Oh what fun it is to see Sunderland win away. Actually, the game is not really that fun, but the winning part is. Steven Fletcher - obviously - nabs the only goal at Southampton.

December 23: I, in the midst of my annual yuletide binge, commit to paper my belief that Martin O'Neill should be given at least five years at Sunderland. Even if they are relegated. Hmm.

December 24: We publish five articles. On Christmas Eve. We're nothing if not committed (see: sad).

December 26: Holy hell. We beat Manchester City at home for the third consecutive year. Adam Johnson scores from about three gazillion miles out, or . Roberto Mancini says he isn't coming back next year. Prophetic.

December 27: Sunderland fans, having recovered from the previous day's victory, pluck drunken memories out of the Boxing Day haze and recall the discovery of placards on seats where season cards have been suspended for the owners' persistent standing. Once again, the club's PR is abysmal.

December 29: Spurs put in probably the best visiting performance of the season, leaving the Stadium of Light with a 2-1 victory. It is a defeat much less demoralising than most recent defeats have been, so we enter 2013 with some optimism. Andre Villas-Boas ruins the festive spirit by telling us there is no chance Sunderland will sign Danny Rose permanently.

December 31: In a bumper New Year's Eve special, both Stephane Sessegnon and Seb Larsson issue rallying calls to their teammates. John O'Shea is ruled out for several weeks with a Wes Browned hamstring.

January 1: Martin O'Neill reveals Wes Brown may not feature again this season. Wearside claps slowly in unison.

January 2: We start brightly at Liverpool. James McClean misses a sitter. We lose 0-3 far, far, far too easily. It is depressing. We drink. Ji Penis-Won joins Augsburg, of the Bundesliga, on loan.

January 4: Sunderland are linked with Alfred N'Diaye. He's a big bugger.

January 5: Sunderland claw back a two-goal deficit to force a replay with Bolton Wanderers in the third round of the FA Cup. Craig Gardner's late free-kick sparks arguably the barmiest away end celebration of the Black Cats' season.

January 7: The long forgotten Keiren Westwood, who is found sheltered in a bus stop in Cleadon begging for pennies to buy a new pair of gloves, is declared "not for sale".

January 8: David Meyler completes a permanent move to Hull City. He goes to Nando's to celebrate.

January 9: Alfred N'Diaye comes from Bursaspor, to hear the Roker roar. Meanwhile, in a move that seemingly meant sod all at the time, Sunderland announce a partnership with South African side Bidwest Wits.

January 10: Sunderland are heavily linked with Kader Mangane. He could be the man to turn around our season. Sunderland are also heavily linked with the heavy Danny Graham. A wave of anger washes over red and whites everywhere (not quite everywhere).

January 11: Simon Mignolet lifts the North East Football Writers' Associations' player of the year award. Some see the award as premature, what with the year only being eleven days old, but hey ho.

January 12: Sunderland comfortably dominate West Ham United, running out 3-0 winners. Mere minutes after I'd bemoaned his inclusion as a central midfielder, Seb Larsson scores a screamer. From central midfield. Alfred N'Diaye comes on from Bursaspor, hears the Roker roar, and looks bloody big and strong. It's nice.

January 15: Martin O'Neill continues his quirky (see: queer) trait of naming only six substitutes in a cup game in the Bolton replay. We lose. That's all I'm saying about it.

January 16: Louis Saha is declared "free to leave Sunderland". We all wonder what might have been. Kader Mangane joins on loan until the end of the season. It is wonderful news and he is the man to turn our season around.

January 17: Ahmed Elmohamady returns from his loan at Hull City. Fraizer Campbell, who almost never scores goals, is linked with Cardiff City.

January 18: The 'Danny Graham furore' continues to rumble on. He's a dirty, horrible Mag and we don't like him. Except some of us do. Boooooooooooo. Martin O'Neill, two days after signing him, declares Kader Mangane Wes Browned.

January 19: We actually win again. 3-2 at Wigan. Steven Fletcher scores two - one an absolute corker - and we're 3-1 up at half-time. Then we pap ourselves and nearly throw it away. But still, we're safe from relegation now. Definitely.

January 21: Fraizer Campbell signs for Cardiff City. Sunderland are linked with Mauro Zarate.

January 25: Craig Clark becomes the newest member of the Roker Report team. Foolish move, Craig.

January 27: Luke Bowley becomes the newest memb...see above.

January 28: Danny Graham asks to leave Swansea City. Allegedly. Wearsiders clear their throats in anticipation.

January 29: The Swansea City chairman denies the story of the previous day. Swansea City then play Sunderland. It is another midweek, boring 0-0 draw. Danny Graham almost scores in the final minute of Wes Brown time but is foiled by everyone's favourite non-convict.

January 31: Danny Graham signs for Sunderland for £5m. Wales laughs. Ahmed Elmohamady, after a two week holiday in the north-east, rejoins Hull City. Martin O'Neill has presumably been drunk for the entire fortnight.

February 2: Sunderland lose to Reading. Do not adjust your screens. It really happened.

February 5: Craig Gardner issues a rallying call to his teammates.

February 8: Connor Wickham joins Sheffield Wednesday on loan, leaving Sunderland with only two recognised senior strikers actually at the club for the next month. This is in no way a ridiculous decision from a manager who we definitely aren't beginning to question the sanity of.

February 9: Arsenal come to Wearside and win 1-0 despite not really playing that well. Carl Jenkinson is sent off and we somehow fail to get an equaliser. Danny Rose picks up a Wes Brown and we all cry collectively into our pints.

February 11: It is a day of news surrounding former Sunderland men. Craig Gordon admits he may never play football again. Meanwhile, Peter Reid officially signs on for Easington FC. Onlookers struggle to work out whom they feel most sorry for.

February 13: Sunderland take Zambian centre-back Stoppila Sunzu on trial. He is, hopefully, aptly named.

February 18: Youngster Lewis Gibbons is turfed out of the Academy of Light after testing positive for cocaine following a match in 2012. Gibbons elicits sympathy when news surfaces that his only choices were either a line of the white stuff or ten-year season ticket at the Stadium of Light.

February 22: Martin O'Neill, channeling Lee Ryder, declares that Sunderland must improve their results "for the fans", starting tomorrow at West Bromwich Albion.

February 23: Sunderland lose 1-2 at The Hawthorns. Everyone's favourite non-convict commits a howler and the world is right again. The first true signs of O'Neill self-doubt eke into view, as he opts for two up front in the face of growing terrace pressure to do so.

February 27: James McClean is forced to shut his Twitter account down by the club after naming an Irish rebel anthem as his favourite song. McClean's supporters argue he deserves social media as a privilege, given that he has overcome adversity by surviving as the world's only living brain donor.

February 28: Stephane Sessegnon issues a rallying call to his teammates.

You can read part one of this series HERE and look out for the third and final part on the site tomorrow!

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