Thirty hours ago,
Pete Sixsmithwere discussing whether we had a clear shared viewpoint on Steve Bruce. Should we, without actually seeking his dismissal, withdraw the support we’ve given him so far? Should there be a good cop/bad cop debate between us on these pages? One home win against Bolton and life seems altogether different, as Pete declares before pausing for more rational thought …
The gloom has lifted. The light shines brightly. The route to European qualification is ahead and I can see clearly now the rain has gone.
Well, not quite. It was a very important result, a much improved performance and a huge relief, but let’s not carried away.
We beat a side whose defending at times was woeful, who were incapable of having a shot on target and who could not keep 11 players on the field, despite Steve Bennett’s best efforts to emasculate our skipper.
We still showed hesitancy at the back, the midfield was better but still not firing on all four cylinders and the forwards did miss some chances, but, as they almost say at the end of Some Like It Hot, nothing’s perfect. To say that this was a vast improvement on the rubbish served up recently is like comparing Clement Attlee’s Labour Government with the rag bag administration we have now.
Steve Bruce will have gone into his meeting with Ellis Short knowing that the players can be motivated, can perform well and do want to achieve at Sunderland.
The outpouring of joy and relief as Bent’s penalty put the result beyond doubt showed that the crowd want success and also want to see decent football – and last night we got both.
We have one centre forward who is a genuine goalscorer and another who is a natural provider. Both played very well. Bent’s ability was shown by his first and third goals where he took delivery of excellent passes from Cattermole and Campbell to take a step away from his defender and fire home shots that beat the keeper low down. Quality!!
Kenwyne had an equally good game, winning numerous balls in the air, both up front and when defending corners. If he does move on in the summer, our team will be all the poorer without him.
For the first time since David Cameron had a comfortable lead in the opinion polls, our midfield actually created something. That we did was due to our Gauloise-inhaling, curfew-breaking Franco/Belgian midfielder, Steed, who overcame his spat with the Brucester to turn in a tremendous performance on the left. He weaved and burrowed his way through the Wanderers defence on numerous occasions and gave us what we have been missing for weeks – creativity and imagination. Great stuff.
Cana also looked much more settled, despite a harsh booking from Steve Bennett, who was reaching for his pocket even before Lorik had completed his tackle. That triggers a two-game ban and he will be missed and, although we may be able to get Reid into the centre of midfield on Sunday. I would implore Bruce leave Steed where he is!!
Defensively, we looked sound. Mensah is a pleasure to watch and Turner is effective. Big Bad Bully Boy Davies got no change out of them, while Elmander did as passable impersonation of Rada Prica as you are likely to see. Swedish centre forwards (other than Henrik Larsson) should be avoided at all costs. Remember Thomas Brolin …
I did like Lee and Wilshere – either would be an asset in our team, although you could tell Wilshere was from Arsène’s Academy as he just refused to shoot when he had the chance: one excellent run across the goal should have brought much more than it did.
It was a lovely feeling to micturate merrily in the Gents’ post-game. There was a hum of contentment as we walked down to the car, mixed with realism. The vast majority of us (like most fans) are realists and we know that this is not the beginning of a push for the Europa League. We may well crash and burn on Sunday, but at least we know that we can be top of the Relegation League – and that’s a league that isn’t sponsored by Coca Cola.