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.