Soapbox: Wembley here we come – maybe


Pete Sixsmith found the first half against Bolton deadly dull, the second satisfying enough to be able to look back with a more positive view of the whole game. Can we actually look forward to the first decent FA Cup run since Mick McCarthy took us to a semi-final (v Millwall) that we should have coasted?…

It’s nice to win an FA Cup tie. In all the years I have followed Sunderland we have fluctuated between good runs (73, 76, 92 and 04) and abysmal defeats (Everton 66, Orient 72, Brentford 06, Wigan 08 – feel free to insert any others) so it was good to win and to win a decent game against a side who seemed to take the competition and the game seriously.

For Ricky, it must have been a good feeling to get that first win under the belt as full time manager, while for the likes of Diouf and Chimbonda it must have been good to get a game in the first team.

The team looked well balanced with two wide men rather than having Reid and Malbranque tucked in.

Edwards showed one or two flashes but Diouf was excellent. He is an interesting character. Fingers have been pointed at him as a disruptive element in the dressing room, whatever this means. Has he been making paper planes out of Roy’s team briefings? Was he sniggering away in French with Djibril while Ricky was giving a breakdown of Portsmouth’s weaknesses? Or did he commit the ultimate sin of fighting with rulers with Danny Collins instead of watching the DVD of Manchester United’s attacking options? This is my definition of disruption.

Diouf seems an intelligent guy. This morning’s papers are saying that all he wants to do is to play football and that is the main reason for him (possibly) leaving in the transfer window.

He hasn’t made the best of starts at Sunderland but he knows Sbragia and Ricky may well be able to get more out of him than a clearly exasperated Keane could. For someone who comes from a poor country like Senegal, the Premier League, its excesses and its skew-whiff values must be rather hard for him to take in.

Pascal Chimbonda is another of the summer signings who has not impressed. His performance on Saturday must have made many fans desperately hope that he can make a go of it. He has the most sublime touch and he was able to give us attacking options down the right that the honest, committed but ultimately workmanlike Phil Bardsley does not. Bardsley is a better defender but his distribution is awful. Chimbonda reads a game well, covered Nozzer on more than one occassion and linked well with Edwards and Cisse.

We scored two good goals which shows how effective Jones and Cisse are. Not yet a partnership of Gates and Gabbiadini or Quinn and Phillips class, but they may be getting there.

Neither is keen on chasing lost causes and both can appear uninterested at times, but it is a brave or foolish central defender who writes them off and assumes that they don’t care. I would back both to score 15+ goals this season.

I can’t let Steve Bennett’s display pass without comment. Utterly useless. That’s the comment. Evidence? His refusal to book Nolan for a nasty tackle on the impressive Kieran Richardson. Nolan caught him deliberately on the heel in a successful attempt to put him out of the game. A clear yellow card, but Nolan already had one and Seasick Steve didn’t fancy flourishing the red. Yet another poor referee who has no feel for or understanding of the game.

All being well I will be at Blyth tonight to run an eye over our next opponents. The romantic in me wants Spartans to win, but being a sensible and practical person, it is clear that a weakened Blackburn side should be too good for them. Blyth have some hostile and unpleasant fans but they would help to fill the Stadium if they got through. I would imagine Blackburn will bring no more thatn the miserable turnout from Bolton – 700 if they were lucky.

2 thoughts on “Soapbox: Wembley here we come – maybe”

  1. Not much to add, except to say I agree about the goal celebrations. We’ve seen the dances lads… now keep them on ze dance floor

  2. The first half was totally forgettable and stirred some horrific memories of the debacle that was last years 3rd round tie against Wigan.Fortunately the game came to life after the break and actually ended up being a decent encounter.
    We put in a reasonable performance and saw some good individual shows.The defence coped admirably with anything that Bolton threw at us.Their goal was a wicked deflection and we were light years away from the defensive disaster that marked Bolton’s last visit to the SOL.
    Our midfield continues to improve, probably helped by playing close to unchanged teams each week.I couldn’t help but feel this was one of Keane’s main failings and Sbragia’s different approach will pay dividends in the long run.Richardson is turning into a key player for us and although it was good to see Edwards back I look at him and see Championship player written all over him.He just lacks that little bit of class to cut it at Premiership level.I would be happy to be proved wrong.
    Our strikers as Sixer says are more than capable of scoring 15+ goals each this season. They just need to up the interest level and please dump that honking goal celebration.
    Fianlly I would have to put my boot into Steve Bennett as well.The man is not biased but just totally useless.He booked 8 players when the only bad foul in the whole game (an ankle cruncher on Richardson) went unpunished.Heaven knows how many would have been left on the pitch had it been a dirty game.
    No reason why we can’t have a good run in this years competition.The draw for the 4th round has been kind to us and we need something in the cups to obliterate the horror memories of Millwall 04.

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