Sunderland 3 Blackburn Rovers 0: a thoroughly satisfactory scoreline as Pete Sixsmith sits in on lessons in finishing from our strikers (somewhat necessary after the zillion misses against Blackpool). Pete lauds a classy performance from Jordan Henderson and warns Rovers of danger ahead before delivering a lesson of his own to SAFC which he earnestly hopes Niall Quinn will see is heeded …
Another year has dawned and with it the realisation that my time on this planet is now approaching its own diamond jubilee. So, a good way to start Year 60 is a win at home against traditionally difficult opponents.
Except they weren’t particularly difficult. They were missing a good goalkeeper, a dominant centre half and anyone with any idea of how to put the ball in the net.
Add to that a new, rookie manager and a minuscule away support and you have a club on the slide. They will do well to stay out of the bottom three come May.
Not that I have any tears to shed over Blackburn Rovers. All eyes were on our lot after a disappointing result on Tuesday. Clearly the best show in town was White Christmas at the Empire, starring a man from Casualty, a man from Billy Elliot and a man from Dallas who wasn’t Larry Hagman.
Our attempts on Tuesday were a little like those of an uncoordinated pantomime horse coupled with those clumsy handymen who attempt to wallpaper the house and who keep on missing the wall with paper and paste.
So, what we needed against Rovers was an early goal and we got two. Great crosses from Elmohamady (“he’s a winger, Steve, not a full back; Oh Yes He Is!!!”) resulted in a deflected shot from Welbeck and a cracking header from Bent to put the game out of Rovers reach.
After that we dominated, but never really convinced. A third goal could have opened the floodgates as Blackburn looked as ragged as Cinderella’s working clothes, but it did not come. They had one chance, when the panto villain Diouf contrived to miss from two yards out, having got round the back off our defence. I blame the North Stand; nobody having shouted to Bardsley “he’s behind you”.
The midfield looked much more creative than Tuesday. Henderson ran and ran and ran and was my man of the match. He was unfortunate with a delightful chip that hit the bar and looked a very good player again. Meyler complemented him with a gritty performance that shows what a strong boy he is after that awful injury last year.
Steed did well and his subtle probing and passing showed us what we missed on Tuesday. He even played 90 minutes without a break, although he must have been exhausted as he ran round the Humpty Dumpty-like Dunn at least twice.
Up front, the two took their goals well and Bent seems to prefer working with the more predictable Welbeck than the rather more enigmatic Gyan. Asamoah took his goal really well and showed what a class act he is. How to fit the three together is a problem that the Brucester has to face.
So, a decent start to 2011 as we sit in a lofty sixth place, which is real progress. This is what we hoped for and we could be a healthy eight points up on the Mags if Bernard and his Pie Eaters have done the business this afternoon. Villa seem to be in the middle of an internal strop so points there on Wednesday night are a distinct possibility.
The crowd was a decent 36,000, higher than that at Anfield. But I think we missed a trick. There was no public transport on Saturday and some fans who travel by bus, rail or Metro may well have found it difficult to get to the ground. Bob Chapman forked out £35 on a taxi to get to the Stadium from Newcastle Central and other southern based fans had to make complex arrangements to get from the railheads to the game.
If we have a New Years Day home game next year, the club may want to think about putting on coaches from Newcastle and Durham stations and from places like South Shields and Chester-le-Street to help fans get to the stadium. It’s actions like that which define how much a club thinks about its fans instead of taking them for granted.