Grim for grizzly Adams
Sunday 12 January 1997
Adams og 66
Schadenfreude was the order of the day at Roker Park yesterday. On the last surviving terraces in the Premiership they revelled in the resignation of the Toon Army's battle-weary commander. For four years and 11 months Sunderland had lived under the giant shadow of the Honey Monster's companion, and chants of "Keegan's on the dole" echoed around the condemned Wearside ground.
On the pitch, the Sunderland players caught the prevailing mood, capitalising on Arsenal's misfortune. For the fifth time this season the Gunners were reduced to 10 men. Dennis Bergkamp was the unlikely villain this time, heading for his early bath in the 28th minute after an over-the- top challenge that caught Paul Bracewell just below the knee.
Arsenal have not won a league match at Roker since the first match of Bertie Mee's reign, a 3-1 victory on the opening day of the 1966-67 season. Jim Baxter was Sunderland's scorer that afternoon. Appropriately, the game was won for them yesterday by a glaring error committed by an opposition player.
Tony Adams, sent off at St James' Park on his last visit to the North- east, succeeded only in diverting the ball past David Seaman while attempting to cut out Richard Ord's left-wing cross in the 65th minute. Sunderland needed Lionel Perez, their hero at Highbury seven days earlier, again to play the saviour role, the Frenchman flinging himself to his left to keep out a David Platt header with 15 minutes to play. But it was their day in the county of Tyne and Wear. Their youth team also joined the party, coming from two goals down to win 3-2 - against Newcastle.
Even the new face on Sunderland's bench was a reflection of times past at St James' Park. Jan Eriksson's pounds 250,000 midweek move from Helsingborgs was overshadowed by events up the road at the ground where he failed to impress Jim Smith, Newcastle's manager at the time, in a reserve match trial six years ago. As the Swede packed his bags and left Tyneside the next day, Newcastle launched a public shares issue which was ditched after raising a mere pounds 1.25m - pounds 158.75m less than the valuation made for the flotation which influenced the timing of Kevin Keegan's departure.
As well as being a celebration for Rokerites of their neighbours' managerless malaise, Arsenal's visit was the second edition of the three-part, 10- day series between Sunderland and Arsene Wenger's team. It was evident that such familiarity was breeding contempt even before the rush of blood which prompted Bergkamp's premature exit.
David Platt and John Hartson were both booked for scything down Michael Bridges as the contest descended to the despairing depths of a stifling scramble for possession among the massed midfield ranks. It took 32 minutes for a shot to materialise and Seaman, playing his first game as a Member of the British Empire, might as well have been a member of the Roker crowd. Adams' unintentional effort was the only one likely to beat him.
l Manchester United are 13-8 favourites for the Premiership title with William Hill, who then offer 11-4 Liverpool, 7-2 Newcastle, 5-1 Arsenal, 10-1 Villa, 16-1 Chelsea, and 20-1 Wimbledon.
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