Soapbox: that was the week that was


When Pete Sixsmith says we now need 10 points from the next four games, and even then only if we cannot quite manage 12, images of porcine creatures in flight might occur to many of those who were at the Britannia and Stamford Bridge. But hey, it cannot get any worse, can it?

Harold Wilson, Labour Prime Minister in the 60s and 70s (and the man who opened Shildon Civic Hall), famously said “a week is a long time in politics”. As a football man who could recite Huddersfield Town’s 1938 FA Cup Final team by heart, he might have added that the aforementioned seven days is a bloody lifetime in football.

There we were, last Sunday, basking in a derby victory and looking to a golden future under Keane, with Cisse rattling the goals in and Collins stopping the opposition from bothering our goalkeeper with a header here and a tackle there.

Then, we run into an ambush at the Britannia Stadium, where Long Throw Rory and his band of 6ft outlaws undoes us, and the manager decides that the players who have taken us to the heady heights of ninth are flawed.

So, we go into our first big away test with two forwards recovering from injury, a changed back four and a bench containing two 18-year-olds, one of whom (David Meyler) was playing League of Ireland reserve football three months ago.

No surprise then to lose. But to lose 5-0, have no shots on target and claim a mere 32 per cent of possession is hardly a satisfactory outcome.

Now we find ourselves sliding down the table and in the unbelievable position of being overtaken by the Mags if they scrape a win over Villa on Monday night. What would Harold make of that? Talk about a reversal of fortune!!

I didn’t get to Stamford Bridge on Saturday (Whitehaven v North Shields if you must know) so I am basing my views on a combination of texts, Radio 5 reports and Match of the Day. None was complimentary.

“2-0 down” from John Penman, followed by “It’s 5 now” and “Thought we had left these days behind” from Joan Dawson. Doug Forrest, who was there, described it as “dire”, while Colin, watching in Abu Dhabi, used the word “embarrassing”.

Jonathan Ledgard , on 5 Live dismissed us as being “out of our depth” while Lineker’s comment of “totally outclassed” on MotD seemed a fair assessment. I didn’t bother to see what King Creosote had to say, and stomped off up to bed, attempting to kick the cat as I went. Like our attackers, I proved to be woefully inefficient at this and the redoubtable Samson lives to scratch another day.

I am puzzled at Roy’s reaction to Stoke. Yes we played badly, yes we made mistakes but did we need such a heavy and, some would say, over-the-top response from the manager? There are rumours of a bust up between Keane and Whitehead and there is a little shiver running down my spine that warns me that maybe all in the garden is not as rosy as we thought.

In the next batch of four games, all are winnable. It could be that by the end of November we will be clinging on to the coat tails of Aston Villa and Manchester City instead of looking to see how Bolton and the Baggies have got on at the wrong end of the table.

Harold Wilson was a weak and indecisive politician who had a tendency to agree with the last person he spoke to. That’s not Roy Keane’s style and I am sure that he will be a more successful football manager than Wilson was a Prime Minister.

We just don’t want any more weeks like this.

1 thought on “Soapbox: that was the week that was”

  1. Sunderland were utterly dreadful at Chelsea, so much so I didn’t bother leaving the restaurant for the second half and instead chose to watch it on TV while nursing a beer or two.
    I would not have travelled had it not been for the late freeby which came my way. Why pay £48 for a ticket and god knows how much more for travel when you know your team is going to get a right seeing to? I don’t normally do one-sided, pointless away trips these days.
    However, despite the awful performance, I was in an excellent position in the first row of the West Stand, first tier, right on line with the Sunderland box, to tell you the first three goals were offside.
    The referee was shocking and so was the linesman on our side. When you know you are likely to get a hiding and then the ref does that to you, you are always likely to come out of it on the wrong side of a thumping.
    Interestingly, I could only get 10 to one at the ground for Chelsea to win 4-0, while I got 16 to one there a few years ago for the same result, which netted me more than £50 at the time.
    How come the odds have come down that much? Another point here, the pre-printed betting sheet only went up to seven nil!
    We also got a parking ticket to add insult to injury.
    My point from this game would be this. Why has Keane erred on the side of caution for so long, boring people with one up front – and then in a match when we know there’s every chance of a hammering, he makes five changes and decides to play two up front?
    And will Martyn Waghorn want to play for them again? In his two starts so far they have conceded nine goals and scored none.
    Finally, and I have researched this, we should not take too much from the midweek defeat at Stoke.
    I predicted it would happen. We always lose down there midweek and win on a weekend.
    Going back to 1989 we have played Stoke away nine times and have won all four on a Saturday while losing all five midweek. Spooky.

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