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ROKER RAMBLE: It’s time for us Sunderland fans to get over our ‘rivalry’ with Leeds and Coventry

We’re all grown-ups now - is it time to leave the past and move on? And, how to solve Xherdan Shaqiri’s gentlemanly problem.

Serbia v Switzerland: Group E - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Not what I want to be watching for the whole of the new season.
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

One of the many stand-out moments of this summer’s World Cup was Xherdan Shaqiri’s last minute winner for Switzerland which knocked out Serbia and saw them progress through to the last sixteen.

Given that he’d run from the half-way line in a solo effort and slotted home the winner in the dying minutes of such a crucial game, you wouldn’t be too surprised by just how excited he became in the following minutes.

And sure enough, nearly every news outlet the following morning carried large photos of his strutting, pompous celebration - arms folded, chest puffed out, with what I would call smug Teutonic arrogance written across his face... and I’m used to it.

He does it after every goal and after every goal I want to punch him in that face. But this time was subtly different. It was probably down to the close ups of the pictures, but this time... he was clearly having an erection.

Serbia v Switzerland: Group E - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
It gets worse...
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

I wouldn’t mention it, but he’s gone and signed for Liverpool.

And if that isn’t enough to spoil my enjoyment of what is a very entertaining team to watch, I really don’t want to be in the ‘is he / isn’t he’ situation every time he finds the net.

I must say, I’m not one of those people that find the priapic man a great art form. I can appreciate male beauty in the statues of Ancient Greece for instance, but presumably they shared my taste otherwise most of the statues would be pointedly different. So lets assume that the majority don’t want this distraction in the game... what can be done about it?

One could hope that no-one in the Liverpool team would ever pass to him, so he never scored a goal and the problem went away – but it’s unlikely.

Tighter undies and baggier shorts are an obvious must, but the real problem is his goal celebration. Standing stock still with arms folded quite frankly draws in the gaze... and the cameras, and it’s this that has to change.

FFA Cup Rd of 32 - Hellenic AC v Western Sydney Wanderers
The solution
Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images

I’d like to recommend a standard alternative celebration, successfully utilized by many other players, starting with the run into the corner followed by the face-down (obviously), dive and slide.

Now the slide will be impeded given what we’ve already described and it may even involve an inadvertent swerve to one side. However, before it’s too apparent he’ll be buried by his joyous team mates piling onto the back of him like a stack of pancakes just waiting for the maple syrup.

And, one would hope that the mixture of darkness, lack of oxygen, odour of male sweat and fear of being crushed would curtail his emotions sufficiently before he emerges to face the cameras again.

Lets see how the season progresses, but at the first sign of trouble a copy of this article is going straight to Jurgen Klopp.

Liverpool v S.S.C Napoli - Pre Season Friendly
And here’s the more reserved approach....
Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa is rapidly turning into a very interesting appointment indeed. He brought a colourful history and reputation for eccentricity with him into the job and he’s doing nothing to change people’s opinions.

One of his first questions to the Leeds backroom staff was “how hard did the average supporter have to work to pay for a match ticket?”

Three hours apparently was the determined amount, so Bielsa had the first team picking up litter at their training ground for three hours to get them to know what it was like.

Now unless Leeds have a high proportion of supporters on community service, it’s unlikely to make the bonding experience particularly realistic, but you can’t condemn his methods.

He’s also increased training from 9am until seven or eight in the evening every day, and as a result they are reputed to be one of the fittest teams in the league.

And, to be fair, they started their season by spanking Stoke City.

Panchine d’oro e d’argento - Italian Football Federation Award Ceremony
Bielsa introduces karaoke as just one of his many new training methods
Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

And I for one would like to see a resurgent Leeds United.

I think it would be good for football and good for the north. As a club we seem to have a friction between us - we call them ‘Dirty Leeds’ and wish them nothing but failure, but I don’t understand why.

Back in their heyday, they had a reputation for being dirty, only because they were consummate professionals in an era when most other teams just weren’t taking the game seriously enough.

Norman Hunter was hard but not dirty. Jack Charlton and Billy Bremner certainly crossed the line, but Paul Reaney, Mick Jones, Allan Clarke, Peter Lorimer, Paul Madely and the rest of that squad were good, talented players undeserving of such a label.

And when it really mattered we beat them – where’s the problem?

Norman Hunter of Leeds United and Court of Arsenal
And if you didn’t jump....

And their renaissance team under David O’Leary with Ferdinand, Viduka and Kewell were fabulous to watch. True, they had a spending habit akin to Michael Jackson’s, but wouldn’t it be good to see a strong Leeds side standing shoulder to shoulder with the Manchester and Liverpool teams again?

It’s a similar situation to our relationship with Coventry, who’ll we play again this year.

They colluded with Bristol City to relegate us in 1977 after managing director Jimmy Hill delayed their kick-off by 15 minutes and then broadcast our losing result over the tannoy, meaning both teams would stay up with a draw.

Fulham v Sunderland - Premier League
Policeman removes Hill from taunting Sunderland fans at Fulham in 2008. The man was a disgrace - but time to let go?
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

The resulting farce, where neither team challenged for the ball for the rest of the game, resulted in a reprimand for Hill from the FA but our relegation stood.

I remember several years later standing in the crowd at Fulham when Hill came out to bait us and thinking then what an arrogant prick he was.

But he’s gone, and Coventry have suffered more than most through being owned and managed by morons, as have Leeds, so isn’t it time to forget the past and move on?

We’ll never lose our rivalry with Newcastle or Boro but do we have to carry grudges with us against the Leeds and Coventrys of this world?

We say that we’re a big club and justifiably so, perhaps we should act like it and forgive and forget things that happened fifty years ago.

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