October 20, 2015
The ex-Newcastle United goalkeeper looks at the poor progress of the region’s largest football clubs in the Barclay’s Premier League this season and the uneven performances he’s witnessed from Sunderland AFC.
When I agreed to be the sports correspondent for the all-new North East Times magazine I didn’t for a minute think that the two big teams of the region would be propping up the Premier League.
Not only languishing at the bottom of the table but five points (six accounting for goal difference) adrift.
Dick Advocaat’s impressive feat of keeping Sunderland up last season, like his recent predecessors, has only lead to internal turmoil and the annual early change in stewardship.
Having watched Sunderland twice recently while working for BBC 5Live, the team’s performances against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City were poles apart.
Playing against Spurs, Sunderland were combative and industrious and were rightly applauded from the field by their fans.
Then against, admittedly, a very impressive and near full-strength Manchester City side, they were the complete opposite.
The new signings at Sunderland are reportedly short of match fitness and fans will want them to get up to speed quickly and show more than the occasional glimpses of quality they’ve shown to date.
Steve Harper made 277 appearances for six professional football clubs. He is a qualified coach and referee, and a regular pundit on BBC 5Live. The sportsman also co-owns Oddballs Apparel Ltd (www.myoddballs.com)