Leave aside the alarming gulf in class between Chelsea and Sunderland and the worst aspect of today’s events was obviously Liam Miller’s stupid piece of retaliation, which rightly got him sent off.
That’s him gone for three games and patchy as his form has been, he is one of the few players in our squad capable of looking Premiership standard. We can ill afford to be without him.
But is it not utterly typical of this sort of match – slick brand (Chelsea) up against hard-working, low skill battlers (SAFC) – that the referee, Peter Walton, had no difficulty in spotting and punishing Miller’s shove but completely missed the assault that preceded it?
Claudio Pizarro could clearly be seen on the replays thumping his knee into Miller as they passed, a straight red card offence if the laws of the game are to be applied with the remotest consistency. When Miller reacted, Pizarro then jerked theatrically backwards as is the way with most players of today. Incidentally, the Sunderland Echo apparently has Miller’s foot being trodden on before his petulant gesture.
Sky’s cameras – I see more English football in Abu Dhabi than ever I managed when living in London – did spot it, so presumably the FA will have to take notice and punish Pizarro. Walton presumably saw nothing of his part in the altercation, and this should make the incident reviewable on video evidence.
It hardly matters, of course. Chelsea just wheel on any one of a bunch of other millionaire prima donnas. Pizarro won’t even be missed. Meanwhile, we muddle through with another reshuffle of the thin, Championship quality pack.
Watching Aston Villa’s game, screened before ours, I was raising my hopes that even we could beat such a woefully bad side. Watching ours, I remembered just how bad we are.
Yes, I know we might have been happy to settle before today’s game for 2-0 as the least we were likely to get away with. But that overlooks the fact that we are beating so few of the lesser teams either.
It is probably unreleastic to expect battling but limited players, as most of ours are, to be able to raise their individual and collective games any higher than they already have. It is not unrealistic to point out that three points against a feeble Villa is no less a MUST HAVE outcome than against Derby.
The weaker the position we find ourselves in come the January transfer window, the tougher it will be for Roy Keane to attract men of a calibre adequate to ensure the season does not end with another calamitous relegation.