Soapbox: how we subdued Man City’s £85 zillion superstars

Despite the undoubted luck we enjoyed when Carlos Tevez decided to make tappy-in seem like brain surgery, we played well enough in the second half to merit our win. For once the “if onlys” are on the lips of others, leaving Pete Sixsmith to salute a notable team performance …

Buzz, buzz, buzz. I usually write these pieces a day after the game, so I can take a more detached, less emotional view of the game. But not this time.

This was the reason why I, and 30,000 others, cough up for a season ticket and sit through the occasional stinker. I am still buzzing and I almost wish I was back at work tomorrow in order to share the buzz with all and sundry – that’s how satisfying this was.

I am often accused, usually correctly, of being up one minute and down the next. I would argue that that is what being a Sunderland fan is all about.

Last week, I thought we were poor and I had some apprehensions about this game. I thought that they had a good chance of beating us and stated on numerous occasions that I would be “happy with a point”.

Well, I’m not happy, I’m bloody delirious after a second half where Sunderland took on and subdued a team that cost £85 zillion or whatever. It was a tremendous performance from all 13 players involved, with the second half 11 finishing off the job that the first half 11 started.

Honestly, there was not one weak performance in the team. From Mignolet to Bent, it was concentration and effort and a self believe that grew as the game went on. It would have been a good point at 0-0, but to win it with a penalty, four minutes into injury time … well, it just makes the whole process of living worthwhile.

It’s hard – and probably unfair – to single out individuals, but I’m going to.

Titus Bramble was immense. Uncomplicated, quick to the ball and with an ability to read the game that I never suspected he had. Titus, you are a star.

Steed Malbranque completed 90 minutes without one cigarette break, and was a constant thorn in City’s side. He grafted, tackled, passed and generally ran and ran and ran.

His fellow Belgian, Simon Mignolet, made the one save that he had to. Well done, Simon. Two famous Belgians in our team …

Kieran Richardson surely silenced his critics. He saw off Adam Johnson and still found time to get forward. On the other flank, Elmohamady, tortured Joleon Lescott and, with 94 minutes played, set off for goal instead of heading for the corner and then turned in a great cross that led to the penalty.

Anton Ferdinand had no squad number. After today, he will either get one or some lucky manager will sign him. He played well at full back, but was even better when he moved alongside Titus in the second half, looking solid and sound.

Jordan Henderson and Lee Cattermole ran their legs into the ground. In the first half, both struggled against the physical might of Yaya Toure and Nigel de Jong, but they stuck at their tasks and did everything they could. In the second half, both City players were pushed further and further back, allowing Henderson to get forward and Cattermole to show that he can tackle without fouling. De Jong did not like it, poor bairn.

It makes you wonder how such a weak performance against West Brom can be followed by something as powerful and effective as this. Tactically, we got it right and in the second half we took the game to them – and they could not do anything about it.

For 25 minutes I was impressed by City. They moved the ball around well, looked strong and determined and it seemed only a matter of time before they scored. Tevez should have done from six yards, his miss provoking outrageous laughter in the East Stand Rows 29 and 30 – and in nearly every other part of the ground.

But as the game went on, they were revealed to be one dimensional. They had no alternative game plan as Milner and Johnson were well held by our defenders. Yaya Toure ran the early stages of the game but Cattermole and Henderson pushed him deeper and he faded. La Liga was never like this. When David Silva came on, he must have wondered if this was the same game they play in Valencia. They don’t have a Drogba, a Rooney or a Torres who can win games for them.

Finally, let’s be thankful that the game was refereed by Mike Dean who gave a superb demonstration of refereeing, allowing two teams of men to battle it out without the constant blowing of the whistle. The result was no bookings for us and two for City, of which one was for dissent after the penalty and the other for de Jong was for constant fouling. Who would have thought that?

A great win and I don’t mind people saying that I am up one week and down the next. Couldn’t care less. I’m just elated to be a Sunderland fan. Buzz, buzz, buzz.

31 thoughts on “Soapbox: how we subdued Man City’s £85 zillion superstars”

  1. Ah, but will Gyan’s shorts be as tight and as cut away as Big John’s were? And I don’t see the Ghanain dodging paying his fare on the train as Big John did to save a few bob. Nor will he end up selling cars for Reg Vardy. How times have changed.
    Still, if he shows half the commitment of McPhail, I will be well pleased. Not the greatest player we ever had, but he had a superb attitude.

  2. Jeremy – Gyan will be facing Man United and Chelsea. McPhail faced Crewe and Southend. Nuff said. You’re right though – he was a stand-out in that team and I maybe got that wrong.

  3. There are points for and against in both Martin’s and Malcolm’s arguments. This is a debate I’d rather have in a pub over a few pints. I’ll just take issue with one thing Martin said: “If you were one of the players who performed out of their skins, how would you feel upon reading your post?”
    The amount of money they’re being paid, I wouldn’t give a damn how they felt upon reading Malcolm’s post. And I expect them to play out of their skins each and every time.

  4. Martin said ‘ In previous eras, the entertainment on offer was provided by the likes of John McPhail, Anton Rogan, Iain Hesford, Colin West, and Paul Lemon.’

    I don’t quite understand why John McPhail was lumped in with these ne’eerdowells. Have you forgotten the 15 goals he scored in one season. Not bad for a centre half. If Gyan gets a dozen in one season everyone will be delighted or amazed). He was one of the biggest bargains I’ve ever seen for the division and circumstances we were in.

  5. Amazing how much conversation one cracking performance can spark off! The whole feel of these posts is one of optimism and excitement tinged with Bill’s touch with reality. All based on one great performance following 4 poor ones.
    You can feel the emotion in Pete’s article. Seize the day, Pete, Seize the day. (Can’t remember how to spell the Latin – Carpe Diem?).
    We do seem to have this pattern, though – play really well against the ‘big’ sides and fail to take advantage of those sides around and below us. We should have taken 6 certain points from Brum and WBA with the lovely bonus of 3 points off City. Those 5 points we threw away could come back and haunt us next May.
    I’ve missed the site these last few days – the best written and most informed site around.

  6. Pete – I know why they call you Sixer. The first syllable of your surname unequivocally unearths the rationale behind your “nickname”. It was simply mischief on my part. I was being a bounder. And by the way – they call Darren “Benty” since he came out the closet in 2001. It’s my pleasure to clarify this point.

    Malcolm. Do you recall our freefall into the 3rd division in 1987? In previous eras, the entertainment on offer was provided by the likes of John McPhail, Anton Rogan, Iain Hesford, Colin West, and Paul Lemon. NOBODY is saying we’re the finished article. But in comparison to the utter scrimshank our long-suffering fans have had to endure in recent years, our performance against a club that have spent 87 zillion quid was at the very least worthy of positive feedback.

    But Malcolm – respectfully, I fail to understand why after a magnificently entertaining game in which we more-often-than-not outplayed a world class team, you focus on what you perceive to be the problems. Here’s a question – think about it. If you were one of the players who performed out of their skins, how would you feel upon reading your post? My giddy aunt man – it takes time to evolve from what we were to what we are now. Your impatience and your brazenness are the reason you have 6 thumbs down. You yourself attempt to excuse yourself before you continue your post with your previous personality diagnosis. Why was that?

    I know that team needs to be improved. My spectacles have a beige tint. I’m just going to enjoy watching it improve by the season. I will put my faith in Steve Bruce, and especially Niall Quinn, and I will accept that it takes time to evolve. I refuse to heep pressure on the team and the management by condemning them for their inadequacies after a fine victory. That’s pointless and a little insane. At the very least – it’s ungrateful.

    The point is this young man. Get behind your team, warts ‘n’ all. Offer criticism when necessary, but understand that it takes time for new players to gel and settle. Wake up every morning and remind yourself of where we have come from. Perhaps then you’ll be a little more humble after a victory against the most expensively assembled team this side of the Bernabeu.

  7. Oh – just remembered the bit about whinging like a tart. Can’t agree with that. Also don’t think I was negative. I said there were a lot of positives. There’s a difference between whinging as you call it and looking to improve. What does it say on the badge? And you mention Gyan and N’zogbia so would I be correct in thinking that you also think we could improve the squad?

  8. It’s an easy one; Sixer is short for Sixsmith. Nowadays I would be Sixy (I get that at work sometimes) or Sixo, or more likely, Fat B******.
    I was in the cubs but was useless at tying and untying knots as Miss Lulubelle from Spennymoor will testify.
    Haway the Lads and FTM.

  9. Glad you have the passion Martin. Enjoyed your post – I really did. I also like a good debate down the pub. I’m not rubbishing Sixer’s comments or feelings. I jumped as high as anyone when we got the penalty and even higher when we scored. I too was buzzing on Sunday night. But one swallow as they say doesn’t make a summer and anyone who thinks this team can’t be improved has the highest shade of rose tinting on their specs.

    We were very good in the first half against Birmingham. We were pretty good in the second half too until the ten men started to tire. We were shocking against West Brom. We battled hard in the first half on Sunday but could have been 2-0 down. Could you honestly see us getting back into the game if we had been. I’m not being negative. I think we could have the best season for ages but this team is not the finished article. It looks like Gyan is coming. Good – as long as his injury troubles really are behind him. He’ll bolster the squad. Our movement and possession in the Birmingham game was spot on – but we don’t do that often enough. I hope you are right and as I say enjoy the win. But if this team is going to improve and be more consistent then I’m sure Bruce and Quinn will do whatever is in there power to achieve that.

  10. Martin: you answered your own question about Sixer by calling our striker Benty. I am trying to think back to Drybourne Park, Shildon. Was he in the cubs & scouts? The truth should be told. But he was always Sixer.

  11. Oh no!!! I have to put the cat amongst the pigeons agian. I don’t want to, but in the circumstances, it’s clearly necessary!

    Malcolm – if you’re reading this – read on. I’m not gonna blow smoke up your bum unlike other regular, albeit occasionally worthy contributors to this blog have done.

    After such a staggering performance, this article by Pete mirrors the passion we witnessed on the field of play. Credit to Sixer (by the way – why do they call you that? – were you a cub-scout? I myself was a seconder) The passion of his article may not have been so evident had Pete waited until the next day. Thank you for putting aside your Mrs and anything else you might have lined up for your Saturday night Pete. Exactly as you were feeling, I was feeling, and then some.

    As a club we are evolving more rapidly than I ever expected to witness in my lifetime. At last we have great management. Steve Bruce actually identifies dross, and outs it!! That’s a first! And his signings are top drawer (Kilgallon apart!) Watch his reaction when Benty scored the penalty. It means as much to him as all of us put together. He was shaking in his boots!

    Our Chairman is everything and more that we could ever wish for. We have an owner who is prepared to splash some cash on players that for once our phenomenal fans deserve to be be seeing week in, week out. For longer than I can recall we have been woefully inadequate, and the team, no matter how often our hopes are built up, flatter to deceive.

    I’m telling ya boys and girls – this season it’s different. I called it after the game against Birmingham. After Saturday I’m sticking my neck out even further. That performance was as slick as anything I’ve seen since 1973!!

    Ok Malcolm – Mr Negative, you’re right – we’ve only scored penalties and OG’s – but that’s just the way it’s turned out after 3 games played! Wait a while. We’ll be ok – especially after we get Gyan, and possibly N’zogbia. Even if we don’t I’ve seen enough already to make me moist!

    On your course, they “threw in” the part about you having “imaginitive features” so that they didn’t hurt your feelings. In truth you are a true negatarian, unable to embrace positive progression due to years and years of perpetual moaning. They spotted it and told you about it in a “kind” sort of way. It is extroardinary how you can focus on the negative after such a “heart-on-the-sleeve” performance. We out-competed, and largely out-played one of the best teams in Europe, and you have the gaul to whinge like a tart!

    Whats more surprising is the kudos you got for it! Shame on everyone that backed Malcolm! It’s a time to recognise effort and achievement. Our sentiments on this blog should reflect the genuine effort of our management and our team, the loss against West Brom aside. We are building, and we are evolving. Support it, like we do on a match day. Don’t berate it. That will cost us dearly. It’s 7th place for us this year – or better. Wait and see.

  12. Good post Malcolm. Let’s enjoy it. Take some pride from it, and not get carried away.

    I was wonderfully impressed by Mignolet yesterday. Two terrific pieces of goalkeeping diving at Tevez’s feet in the first half bravely and showing what reflex goalkeeping is about in the second half from a point blank header with his left hand.

    Quite was Richardson was doing in the Tevez miss, I have no idea, but SM came out to narrow the angle on Toure before he passed, putting him off taking the shot and encouraging the pass.

  13. Hi Pete, remembered your website at last – memory’s fading!
    Great result – heard it on 5 Live – certainly doesn’t get easier following SAFC! Enjoy the season and look forward to reading your reports.

  14. Following sport and being a fan of a football team brings highs and lows. We enjoy the success (and rightly so) and feel depressed when things go against us. The great thing about this match was that we won it right at the end. As Pete says we are buzzing. Let’s celebrate, enjoy the moment but let’s not get too euphoric and blind ourselves to what needs to still be done.

    Imagine that this game had been played back to front. Bent slots home his penalty in the first minute. We battle well and with the help of a canny save from the keeper and are looking good at half time without ever really looking like getting another in the net. The second half is a different story. We are working hard but the game is more even. We defend well high up field but too many stray passes and hopeful punts restrict our goal scoring opportunities. The only decent chances fall to the opposition and with ten minutes to go we watch in horror as the much lauded opposition centre forward is free in front of goal and laugh with relief as he blasts it over the top. This a few minutes after another decent chance, which came about when our full back carelessly played it across the front of the penalty area. We needed a blocking tackle from our substitute centre back to send it wide. Before that he young keeper showed his worth by saving with his legs from point blank range. At the end we are pleased with the three points but the feeling is more relief that we hung on than the glow of satisfaction that here is a team to conquer the top half of the table.

    The attitude we saw in this game needs to be there in every game. We still need to keep the ball better and reduce the loose passes and aimless punts. Above all we need to look like a team (and not just one man) who can score regularly. I expected when I submitted my previous comment to get the thumbs down. I am enjoying this victory (believe me) but I want the team to delight me more and frustrate me less.

  15. In the broader scheme of things I can understand your concerns totally. The brighter moments of supporting SAFC are are so infrequent and fleeting that we tend to make the most of them; and quite rightly. We need to take our eyes from the bigger picture occasionally so as to maintain our own sanity.

    We have played three league games and our three goals have been 2 pens and an og courtesy of Stephen Carr. Yesterday’s events don’t change the desperate need for more fire power. Welbeck looked lively but didn’t get a shot at goal. For me, Campbell was poor again yesterday and not up to scratch; but nothing new there eh?

  16. The French press may or may not be in the loop but as you’ll see from the other piece posted today, there is strongish speculation that he is going to stay put. I hope it;s just part of the bargaining process; Campbell’s injury may have added €1 or more to the asking price! If indeed we are in for him at all.

    I prefer Pete’s enthusiasm but acknowledge the point Bill is getting at. We didn’t actually look like scoring before the penalty (or at any rate before my dodgy stream went down , leaving me to make do with Radio Newcastle for the last 10-15 mins). We just looked good going forward, usually letting ourselves down with the cross, shot or final ball (Malbranque though often sublime on the ball, was guilty of ruining excellent work with the weak or misdirected ultimate pass).

    But remember who we were playing. We pummelled them second half, disrupting their flow and reducing them to what we looked like in the first half: the away team. One point against such opposition would, in fact, have been good enough, Bill, if only we’d done the business against lesser teams in the first two games.

  17. It’s that lack of “end product” that worries me. Okay, we outplayed Man City in the second half but, had it not been for them giving away that dying-seconds penalty, we’d have had one point. That’s not good enough. We need to be creating scoring chances and then following through with them. We desperately need another striker. Sky says Bruce has put in a “club record” bid on Gyan. Let’s hope it’s enough.

  18. I’m wondering when you might get excited Bill if you didn’t really enjoy this one!

    Agree with everything the Sixer says. For me Bramble and Ferdinand were awesome for us. I thought Malbranque produced more of what he usually produces but there wasn’t any end product. El Moo looks as if he will be a real asset when he gets bedded in. You could see where the “Egyptian Beckham” tag has been used. He’s a lot quicker than Beckham though!

    Welbeck gave them a lot to think about when he came on second half. Very lively and a lot better than last week. Just to put a flie in the euphoria. I thought Campbell was really very poor before he got lamed.

  19. I watched Match of the Day 2 for the first time this season. Disappointing that we came out of the bag last, but the shot of the City bench was priceless. Viera, Adebayor, Silva and Jo all sat there, hunched up with faces that you could chop sticks with.
    I saw a fantastic juggler at a Cirque du Soleil show in June and Mancini will have to outdo him if he is going to keep this lot happy. Too much of a good thing for City, I fear.

  20. Partisan as a report on the match yes but one of the most informative as an exile I have read in 50 years with all the emotion and passion for our team that we each know so well.

    I am not one of the doubters, a gloomy look on life which seems to afflict many Sunderland supporters at the start of a season and posted on a couple of City boards that they were underestimating our wish to win and could get a surprise. The rugged first half defence and a lot of luck gave way to self belief and such excitement, listening to the radio, that there were times my wife was questioning my sanity. When the penalty went in the cat ran from the room like a rocket.

    I hope this portends a similar performance against the top teams that we saw last season and enough strength of character not to lie down against the lesser clubs

  21. I am just relieved that we actually won. The first half was terrible nail biting stuff, and I could hardly watch (on Iraq goals as I live too far away these days to make the journey North – Salut to those who do). I am still wary of our survival chances this season with K Jones sold off for what looks like a ‘cut price’ giveaway.

    I was scared to watch this one as I thought we would lose. PHEW… BIG PHEW!!! Nice miss Carlos. All in all a very lucky 3 points. We still have a way to go.

  22. Cannot quarrel with Bluemancunian’s assessment. We couldn’t have complained if it had been 2-0 to City at half time. And we did go on to to earn, and I mean earn, the win after the break.

    George: I can feel the atmosphere you describe from your club. KopThisMate won’t enjoy the reminder but I experienced something of that last season after the beachball win against Liverpool: a Mackem, Bob Fox, and a Geordie, Billy Mitchell (ex Lindisfarne), were playing a gig at the Davy Lamp folk club in Washington and there was a great beaming smile on every face (except Billy’s) each time the game was mentioned, which was often.

    Brian: can it be repeated? Only if we start believing the rules of football allow back-to-back wins.

    Rockape:if you look down the sidebars to mention of 1973, you’ll see that when that – us winning the cup – happens, TV devotes documentaries to it and people write book. If you’re a City fan, I’d just say it hasn’t taken you long to shrug off your own state of perpetual disappointment relieved by very occasional glory.

  23. A great win indeed, a welcome three points and the buzz of a last minute win is to be savoured for as long as possible. But..I was once sent on a course from work, that I didn’t want to be on, and one of the first things I had to do was a personality test to see what kind of managerial style I took to my job. I was assessed as a pragmatist with imaginative features! Some would say a wet blanket with pessimistic tendencies!

    So whilst I too am revelling in the victory I keep can’t help but think…”two goals from the penalty spot and a own goal from an ex Mag. The two we got in midweek against a lower league side were goalkeeping howlers of the Gary Sprake/Rob Green kind.”

    When will we start to worry sides in open play and who other than DB is likely to get 10 goals this season? Talks with Gyan are supposedly at an advanced stage. Looks like him or Danny Wellbeck if Frazier Campbell’s injury keeps him out for a couple of months. I worry about our ability to create enough clear cut goalscoring opportunities and having people who’ll stick them away.

    And Rico does seem to be adapting to the left back role but needs to cut down the errors. Not much he could do about the blocked shot that led to Tevez’s howler but it was his loose pass in front of the penalty area that gave Toure (I think) a chance that Turner blocked.

    Mignolet made two cracking saves and seems to be gaining in confidence. Bramble is proving that Bernard Ramsdale knows what he is talking about. So there are lots of positives. But we can’t rely on beachballs and stoppage time penalties every game. I’ll follow today’s transfer talk with interest.

    Oh and finally – proper football resulting from sensible/good refereeing and hard but generally fair challenges. Thank you Micah for forgetting that last bit!

    Ha’way the Lads

  24. Big win for Sunderland, gifted really by Richards see can it be repeated at eastlands or even next game !!

  25. Well put mate I know exactly how you are feeling.This morning I’m still buzzing. After the game I walked into our local club and the atmosphere was class the barmaid saying its lovely to see all the smiling faces for a change.The beer just flowed down sweetly and this morning I’m proud of our Team.

  26. You did to us what we did to Liverpool.

    We chased them, we tackled them, and we passed them off the park

    I’m not saying that Sunderland passed us off the park, but in the second half, we were never allowed to get into a passing game.

    Yes, we should have been 2-0 up at half time. Yes, Adebayors back heel should have finished the game off, but those things didn’t happen, just as Liverpool’s efforts against Joe Hart didn’t count.

    I think a defeat at Sunderland was a little harsh but that’s football for you.

    We can have no complaints, we didn’t take our chances.

    You took yours. End of

    Good luck for the season

  27. Well done lads. As a liverpool supporter, i was absolutely joyed to see the 1-0 victory over man city. For all there billions, and fantasy star players, it still takes a team to win after 90 minutes.

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