Mixed feelings on a brave backs-to-the-wall display

Sometimes, if I have to leave the computer before I have received Pete Sixsmith’s “Sixer’s Seven” verdict on a game, I post a holding version of my own.

So it was after our magnificent defensive performance narrowly failed to grab a point from the one-way traffic at Old Trafford. And how similar our summaries were:

mine: Ambition-free heroics defeated so, so late …….

Pete’s: Cruel defeat after disciplined if negative performance


Let us not get carried away. The magnificence of the defence, and the great luck Man United enjoyed for the winner, must not obscure one embarrassing fact.

Although the club is in turmoil, the players representing it were assembled at considerable cost. We should have looked a lot more as if we were competing in the same league yesterday.

Each time we broke down one of their attacks, we punted the ball aimlessly upfield to a Man United player, or without hope of return towards Cisse’s head. Only one thing could happen then: another attack. Allow a team like that to mount wave upon wave of attacks, and the outcome is likely to be at least one goal.

It was like Arsenal 2 Sunderland 0 in Peter Reid’s first relegation season, except that on that occasion we had the excuse of two sendings off in the first half to justify our play-in-only-one-half tactics.

As for the commentary – as one-sided as the match, according to critics of Setanta, at Ready To Go and the Black Cats forum, with Craig Burley taking special flak for his “victory for football” response to the jammy United winner – we seem to get our own coverage out here in the UAE. It sounded a little like Alan Parry but probably wasn’t, and I kept missing references to who it was. Likewise his summariser, though one of Rob McCaffrey’s Dubai studio guests was Chris Waddle, who said at half time something like: “They’ll never get away with it for another 45.”

Pete will have more to say on this, and on the wider issues raised by yesterday and recent events. Watch this space…

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