“I’ve always said that you can live without water for many days, but you can’t live for a second without hope.”
It might shock you to learn that this quote is not attributed to Lee Johnson, but it will equally not shock you to learn that it was one of football’s first poundshop philosopher style managers, Brendan Rodgers who came out with this bizarre uttering.
I obviously can’t speak for Brendan but I have spent significantly more than a second of my life feeling a sense of hopelessness and despite this have reached the age of 27 relatively unscathed.
After a over a year of being told by Lee Johnson to have ‘fire in our belly and ice in our heads’, while being reassured that we were the better team between both boxes after a 3-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday; we are somewhat used to the post match drivel managers can come out with but in 2012 the landscape was different.
Yes, the influx of both foreign and young coaches had led to a change in the football lexicon but ‘proper football men’ still reigned supreme, particularly on Wearside.
Our head coach at the time, Martin O’Neill, was always ‘naturally delighted’, Steve Bruce always insisted that we had to ‘dust wuhselves down lick wuh wounds and go again’, after declaring that he didn’t want to make excuses before going on to blame everything from recent Metro strikes to Sunderland City Council and everything in between.
It was therefore something of a novelty to encounter a man like Brendan Rodgers and undoubtedly a huge honour to watch his Swansea side stroke the ball around their backline and midfield for 90 minutes.
Sunderland, rather wisely, realised that football is traditionally a game played between two teams whose primary aim is to score goals rather than rack up possession and, after some intricate build up play took the lead through a superb finish from Stephane Sessegnon after 28 minutes.
In fairness to the visitors, they did work some good openings of their own and were unfortunate to trail at the break, following glaring misses from Scott Sinclair and you’ll be no doubt flabbergasted to learn that Danny Graham also spurned a chance to level things up.
In the second half, Sunderland had the better chances and other than Simon Mignolet denying Gylfi Sigurdsson’s free-kick on the hour mark, Swansea rarely threatened.
Seb Larsson hit the post, before Connor Wickham inexplicably fired wide from close range, but just as nerves were beginning to jangle on Wearside, Craig Gardner made it two with a trademark screamer from long range.
The win made it 10 points out of a possible 12 under O’Neil, and lifted the lads up to tenth.
Despite Rodgers’ side continuing to reinvent football by passing the ball to each other quite well, it was the sixth game in 11 that Swansea had failed to score away from home.
After the game, Rodgers claimed: “It is great for the public here at Sunderland to see us.
“They must have been wondering what this team everyone is talking about are all about and now they have seen. We were wonderful.”
If you are particularly bored there is still a quiz on The Guardian website where you can guess if Brendan Rodgers or David Brent is responsible for the quote. Have a go and let us know how you got on. I showed great character but unfortunately only mustered six correct answers out of ten.