Sunderland 0 Manchester United 1: a hung parliament

A disappointing result. But was it a disappointing performance? The parliament of Sunderland fans is divided …

The mood on platform two of Sunderland’s charmless station, a strong contender for any worst mainline terminus award, was not quite the same as it had been in row 30 of the East Stand.

“Very disappointing,” said one supporter. “Bruce got the team wrong – we should have gone at them,” said another. On the train, a third declared our performance against Manchester United, a formidable power in world football, to have been poor.

Back at the Stadium of Light, the choice for Sixer’s Sevens, Pete Sixsmith’s seven-word verdict on each game, had been between “Good performance that fell a little short” and ” “Good performance bodes well for next season”.

Fans, even fans of the same club, see different games.

I can see the argument that Steve Bruce might have started with both Darren Bent, who looked subdued but was in fact denied decent service throughout, and Kenwyne Jones, who did just about enough when he arrived late to suggest he could have posed problems.

It is also obvious that United are not the team they were. Chelsea are not the most likeable club in the Premier League but will deservedly win the title. Paul Scholes, nearer the end than the beginning of his top-flight career, was United’s man of this match. But without him or Rooney, busy, threatening and popping up all over the place, they would have looked good but hardly exceptional.

But Sunderland played with passion, purpose and flashes of real skill and would not have been greatly flattered by a draw, even though the hapless Berbatov went through a pre-substitution spell in which he appeared to miss an open goal every four-and-a-half minutes.

Phil Bardsley, possibly making his last home appearance for us, had a good game. Cana’s tackles were hard, successful and fair, Campbell had an impressive second half, Malbranque’s trickery and tenacity were as pleasing on the eye as his corners were ugly. And United won only because Nani’s shot, heading wide of the post, took a decisive deflection (or seemed to, to everyone watching the trajectory of the ball from where I was sitting – if Nani curved it and it hit the net without touching another soul, I am happy to record as much).

We were not quite good enough. But we were not poor. Sixer and Joan Dawson were both right with their rival verdicts.

Colin Randall

6 thoughts on “Sunderland 0 Manchester United 1: a hung parliament”

  1. At least we competed with them yesterday, something I’ve not seen in previous seasons, and my view that we’d had as much possession was borne out by the stats that showed 50/50. This is progress. Yes, they’re still on a higher level to us, but we’re moving in the right direction. We weren’t overwhelmed or completely outclassed – perhaps I am setting my aims too low but compared to other seasons I didn’t leave the ground disheartened and worried.

  2. I thought that this was a superb account of the game and pleased to see Salut concentrate on what were a lot of positives for me. I agree that Bardsley had a good game. Possibly his best for us, and that he probably just fell over.

    I felt we gave a very good account of ourselves and the various comments that I’ve heard such as “it should have been 4-0” are way off the mark. To follow up on Geoff’s comments above, I have to say that I thought Cattermole had a terrible game with some woeful passing and very late challenges. There’s a lot to take into next season.

  3. I also agree with Sixer & Joan. I thought the Lads played with tremendous spirit and certainly look like a top ten side next season. Really encouraging application with a fair splattering of skill – particularly from Steed. The ball sticks to his feet in a way reminiscent of Julio.
    Rooney was terrific and is almost impossible to dispossess, his passing at times shows a frightening awareness.
    I thought that Bardsley lost his balance and fell (defenders running at speed into the opposition box can sometimes become confused and disorientated!) although Nani’s goal was well struck to get inside the far post and well out of Craig’s long reach.
    Cana and Catts seemed more ‘disciplined’ which is a real step forward – although a ‘friend’ has just rung to congratulate me on Sunderland being shown as the ‘dirtiest’ team this season. Those yellows, reds and suspensions cost us this year.
    Therefore, the flashes of skill, the better discipline with key players staying on their feet as well as the outstanding application for the full 90+ mins – I am looking forward to next year with more than the usual blind optimism.
    I’m also looking forward to using Salut! as my first choice for outstanding Sunderland insight – thanks!

  4. jj
    My line of sight from the East stand had it going wide.
    But see my amended reference – I have had no chance to see it again, but may have been misled by Nani curving the shot, in which case it was a great strike.
    If Grand Central had for once provided the wifi they promise on their Sunderland-London trains, I’d have covered the Bardsley point. I had a connection while we were stationary at York and that was it.
    My immediate thought was that he had just fallen over. Steve Bennett, not my favourite ref but who had a fairly good game, interpreted it as a dive. If he was right, Bardsley should be fined a month’s wages for turning a goalscoring opportunity into a yellow card. And I accept without hesitation that no United player or official has ever so much as thought of cheating in any shape or form. From SAF to the lowliest apprentice, MUFC observe the Corinthian spirit without exception or complaint.

  5. “Nani’s shot, heading wide of the post, took a decisive deflection.”

    a deflection? are you serious? did you even watch the match???

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