“Thank goodness that’s over” says Pete Sixsmith as we scrape a point against a far better Newcastle side. Talk of getting out of jail, fat ladies singing and clutching at straws dominate these observations on a bitterly disappointing derby performance. We need to do better next year !!!!
At 13:48, with the clock running down, I sent my Seven winging across the seas to M. Salut in Penang. “Once again found lacking when it mattered” were my words as we huffed and puffed against a side who were threatening to score a second, and take a deserved three points home with them.
For the umpteenth time we pushed forward with effort rather than skill. The ball dropped to Bardsley who whipped in a shot, Harper parried it and Asamoah Gyan poked it over the line to level the scores.
Wild celebrations from those around me; much jumping about and a feeling that we had not only got out of jail, but that we had kidnapped all the Prison Officers, burnt the place down and reformed the entire criminal justice system. The Fat Lady (or middle aged Man in this case) was singing his head off at this one. Games last for 90 minutes!!!
Quite frankly, we were awful. Whatever weaknesses we had seen against Blackpool and Notts. County were magnified 100x in this scrappy, bitty and, for us, ultimately disappointing derby.
Take Gordon, Bardsley and Malbranque out of the equation and not one of our players can sit at home tonight and feel that they had good games. I suppose Onuoha did ok and Ferdinand wasn’t bad, but what about the rest of them? Poor is a flattering description of them.
We had no leadership on the pitch. Nobody took hold of the game for us, nobody did anything that would inspire his team mates to lift themselves and nobody led by example. Look at the goal. Ferdinand had been injured and had just come back on. But who helped him out? Who organised the defence? Who picked up Ameobi and Nolan. Nobody!!!!!! Could you imagine Ball or Hurley allowing that to happen?
Contrast that with Barton and Nolan who chivvied and chipped away and clearly knew what this game was all about. Look at Williamson and Coloccini who took responsibility at the back and snuffed out our £23m strikeforce. Look at Ameobi and Best who caused all kinds of problems for our two central defenders.
Why? Yes, we had injuries. Cattermole and Welbeck were missed. The power of Cattermole and the skill of Welbeck may have given us that little bit extra. But we knew they would be out and in team selection and performance we did nothing to make up for their absence.
The central midfield was terrible. Neither Henderson nor Richardson got into the game. Richardson seemed to spend the game giving the ball away, mistiming tackles or being caught in possession. Henderson looked a player who has had great expectations heaped on his shoulders and is struggling to live up to them. Do we allow them to play their way back into form, or do we make changes?
Titus Bramble showed why some Sunderland fans were concerned about his recruitment in July. He was shaky throughout and rarely looked comfortable against the impressive Ameobi, who won most headers against him in the first half. His distribution seemed to consist of a hoof up field in the general direction of the disappointing Bent and Gyan. The ball was then promptly returned by the opposition so Bramble and Ferdinand could launch it again.
So, where do we go from here? Hopefully Cattermole and Welbeck will be back next week to give us a little more balance in the team. Bruce has some big decisions to make. On the basis of this bitterly disappointing performance, he could leave Henderson, Richardson and Bent out of the team. All three are England internationals and all three had games that they would not wish to linger over for very long.
Newcastle lifted themselves for this game. The old, experienced heads of Nolan and Barton ran the midfield. Barton played the ball of the game for Ameobi to miss, while Nolan treated us all to his chicken dance. I don’t want to see that again. I thought Williamson was their best player – he missed nothing at the back. Apparently he had a stinker against Stevenage last week – which says very little about our forwards.
The window slams shut in two weeks time. We need to import some pace into the team, either through the middle or down the flanks. N’Zogbia is a possibility as is the French player Sessegnon, who seems keen to leave PSG. If Ellis Short says we have to sell in order to buy, so be it. Like KoKo, we could make a little list of those we feel could leave.
As for the morons who ran on at the end and pushed Steve Harper over, words fail me. What on earth do they hope to achieve by such behaviour? All it does is give fuel to those of a black and white persuasion who seek to belittle our club. Leave the pitch invasions to them. Who can ever forget the man jumping on his scarf in the centre circle at SJP after the play off game in 1990?
I know – clutching at straws!!!!