No Silva service for Sunderland

In every walk of life, there is information that is available on a need-to-know basis to a small circle of people, but not disclosed more widely.

Football tries to be as secretive as most of those walks of life.

We never know precisely what is going on behind the scenes on transfers, in or out. For every 10 or 20 wrong names in the rumour mill – placed there tactically by players’ agents or clubs or, as Monsieur Salut is willing to admit, by untrustworthy journalists – there is often one right one that no one has even guessed at.

And within each club, there are matters of behaviour, attitude, off-the-field problems, injury and health that we, the fans, are never fully aware of.

But we’re human so we speculate, at work or in the pub, on football forums and e-mail loops and in our own heads.

So what is Steve Bruce’s secret about Paulo da Silva?

What is the explanation for spending good money, if not on a fee then at least on his presumably very decent wages, on one of the undoubted successes of the 2010 World Cup and never playing him. Whatever the crisis of fitness or competence in his position and even when he is – as has been the case week after week – sitting on the bench and apparent need arises, the one certainty seems to be that Paulo Da Silva does not feature.

The matter has been exercising the Blackcats lists, as this sequence shows:


From the Sunderland Echo :

“Bruce has concerns about Paraguayan Da Silva, who has been linked with a move away from the Stadium of Light in January.”


It would be interesting to see what Steve’s concerns are.

1 Why would PDS want to stay to sit on a bench?
2 Why would PDS watch players shuffled around, out of position, while he sat on the same bench?
3 Why would PDS listen to Bruce telling everyone that Central and South American players need time to settle in?


1 He won’t unless the money is big.
2 Ditto
3 After 15 months? He won’t.

Angeleri will go. Riveros will go and PDS will go. It will be down to their ‘not settling’ to PL football. Really it’s down to the spin of the roulette wheel when buying SA players. Bruce gambled that they’d hit the ground running. Hard to adjust to the pace when you’re on the bench.

The lack of use of PDS in games has been awful. Bruce has just been panning for players, hoping he’d strike it rich in a cheap market, and it hasn’t happened. Riveros is another one whose career is going backwards.

The situation says more about Bruce than the players.


I agree Terry

When you sign players of proven calibre; and that applies to all the names you mention, you don’t sit there judging them on the basis of half an hour here or ten minutes there. The PDS and Riveros showed their mettle on the biggest stage. PDS was one of the best three CBs in the world in my eyes during the WC. You base your judgement on that and give them enough playing time for that quality to eventually shine through. How can they acclimatise

(if that’s needed anyway) when they don’t play. God knows he’s done this with a totally unproven commodity in Welbeck who is on loan. Yet, he refuses to do this with players he’s bought. These lads will move on and do well somewhere else, and there’ll be people saying “yeah well they couldn’t do it in the PL.” Hard though sitting on your arse.


It’s all a bit odd and makes me wonder whether there is some other reason why he isn’t playing. A lot of this went on with Peter Reid, although admittedly the players then were of a lower calibre. It’s plain bad business for a club to purchase a commodity and never use it.

This, then, from the ESPN Soccernet site, is the statistical story of Da Silva’s season so far, including South Africa 2010::

TEAM Competition … Games Started … Used as sub
Paraguay World Cup 5 0
Paraguay International Friendly 4 0
Sunderland Carling Cup 0 1
Sunderland Premier League 1 0

Sunderland’s official club site, reporting rumours of a Da Silva return to ‘his old club, Mexico’s Deportivo Toluca, states: “The defender’s former side have been reported as possible suitors to re-sign the Paraguayan skipper, who has struggled to hold down a regular place in Sunderland’s line-up since moving to the Stadium of Light last year.”

Struggled to hold down a place? It sometimes seems he’s an ever-present. How often has the phrase “14 Da Silva” appeared among the list of unused subs?

But lo and behold, there IS an explanation, and from Steve Bruce himself, quoted on the Evening Chronicle website.

“He’s a very, very good player. The only problem Da Silva has is coming up against the big strikers.

At the World Cup there was no real big player, and the teams don’t play like Wolves and try to bash him up.

In Mexico it’s all tippy-tappy stuff and little players, the same at the World Cup.

Against Spain at the World Cup he was magnificent, but against anyone like a Stoke or Bolton or a Wolves or a Blackburn, he physically can’t deal with that aerial stuff, he struggles.”

* Coming next: how Bruce can possibly know any of this unless Wolves, Blackburn, Bolton and Stoke kindly loan Sunderland big, bruising forwards for our training sessions.

Monsieur Salut

10 thoughts on “No Silva service for Sunderland”

  1. Back in the “olden days” the ideal centre-back pairing was one good in the air and one faster guy good on the ground. I wonder how the likes of Colin Todd, Martin Buchan, or (gulp) Bobby Moore would get on these days? I’d have thought that Bramble & PDS would make an excellent pairing. They would have done in the 60s anyway.

  2. Martin – just because people are questioning Steve Bruce’s tactics, decisions and team selections doesn’t automatically mean they are slagging him off. I think everyone can see the progress we are making. Just go back a year and a bit when Nyron was our back up centre half/full back. Much as I liked his commitment and useful as he was in the Championship it’s obvious the options at the manager’s disposal are stronger now than they have been for a long time.

    At the start of the season some of us questioned the quality of our strike force with only Darren Bent looking likely to score. Bruce dealt with this by signing Gyan.

    There were those who questioned the 4-5-1 formation. It has proved it’s worth but we look more potent with two or three strikers on the field. Were we whinging then or was it a genuine desire to see improved results?

    Was Bruce right to play the system he played against the Mags?

    Was the change in formation forced on him by Bent’s injury? Are we a better team for it?

    Would Da Silva coming off the bench (or even starting) at
    Wolves have stiffened the defence?

    This is the stuff fans talk about. The debates on here echo those we have in the pub, on the bus to the match and in our seats in the stadium. Personally I am more than happy with the Brucester in the hot seat, but he won’t get everything right. I’m not sure he’s the best manager we’ve ever had either but he’d be in the top three on his record so far.

  3. Two points to pick up on here. Those made by Salut and Martin.

    Quite Salut, if he isn’t going to play then why have him on the bench. Martin’s point about why risk him? Well what could be more risky than playing everyone ahead of PDS in the left back slot when he is happy there? Bardsley has done well there but it’s interesting to see Bruce’s priority with this. As for Mensah’s pocket’s comment. Dead right! He wasn’t going to get any bigger was he?

  4. I know me memory is a bit flakey these days but am I the only one who can’t remember the type of criticism being aimed at Da Silva being levelled at him when he was actually playing. Did anyone say anything vaguely resembling “Oh, he’s struggling to cope with the physical demands of the Premier League, that bloke!” or “He just can’t deal with the pace of these Premier League forwards”. The comments I can recall sounded more like “reads the game well”, “calm, intelligent play”, “great distribution out of defence”, “good in the air despite not being the tallest” “Da Silva and Mensah should be the automatic starters when they’re both fit” etc, etc.

    I do seem to recall him possibly being caught out once or twice but
    felt that it was more likely to be down to him not having established
    a relationship with the other defenders. He only seems to “have
    difficulty coping” when he’s not on the pitch.

  5. Well – he watches the games from the touchline – a good vantage point. He’s seen that PDS doesn’t cut the mustard – and is out of his comfort zone in the Premiership. He’s also present at every training session so therefore has a substantially better knowledge of his ability than anyone else.

    For the record Nedum IS a central defender by trade. Anton Ferdinand is not good enough, and even PDS might be a better option!! The defending against Wolves was dire. If Titus was playing we would have won at a canter.

    Here’s how it is. If SB played PDS and we lost, there would be thousands willing to cane him for his selection faupaux – so he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. I know this though – he’s the best manager we’ve ever had, and I’ve never been more confident of our chances. The glass is half full boys and girls – stop leaping on the slag the manager band-waggon and stop whining!!!!!

  6. Risking 3 points? like playing Nedum at centre half for last 10 minutes of game against Wolves? That kind of risk. PDS ahead of more physical dentral defenders? Like Anton Ferdinand? So, what Bruce is saying is that PDS can play against good strikers, but not big ones. It’s an interesting argument; not entirely sure it holds much water, and I’d like to know just how he’s come to this conclusion. Maybe he could let us know.

  7. Whenever PDS has played (albeit rarely) I have been entirely unconvinced. Maybe he should have been given a bit more of a chance, but at what risk? Would it have been worth sacrificing 3 points playing PDS when we have other central defenders better equipped to deal with the physicality of the premiership? Same with Riveros. Why put him ahead of any of our regular midfielders when he’s less likely to impact the game??

    Bruce always states that South Americans take approximately one year to adjust, so if that’s accurate, maybe Riveros will come good in the way that PDS has not.

  8. It will certainly not help Paulo’s frame of mind to hear his manager state publically that he doesn’t feel his player is big (for big read good) enough. These days all clubs need depth in their squads with quality replacements to fill in when the first choice selection is unavailable. So do Da Silva and Angeleri (and to an extent Riveros) fall into this catergory? It would appear not as they seem to be left on the bench whilst players who are only on loan feature regularly. (As well as Welbeck and Nedum don’t forget Elmo and Mensah are still only loanees.) It has to be significant that Meyler and an unfit Mensah feature more prominently in the manager’s thinking than the three South Americans but I suppose he feels he needs replacements before he can let them go. I suspect that like they did for Alan Hutton, regular matches will ensure that DW and NO end up back at their parent clubs then we really shall have a thin squad.

    Whilst we have no end of players out on loan too, it would seem they have no future at the club. Of those only Andy Reid would add to our squad, in my opinion.

    Da Silva, Riveros and Angelieri were supposed to be proof of the success of SB’s scouting staff’s ability to recruit quality Latin Americans but it is beginning to look like an attempt to sign players “on the cheap.”

    I couldn’t understand why Elmohamady was prefferd to Da Silva when Mensah was substituted last weekend. It looks now as if Bruce was worried about PDS’s ability to deal with their big men. How well that reshuffled back line did to keep out of Ebank- Blake’s way so they wouldn’t be muscled off the ball when he hit the winner.

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