Notts County Soapbox: Pies poison us

37 years on from a tight draw at Meadow Lane, Sunderland show that they have learned nothing from the past and turn in a display that has Pete Sixsmith shaking his head in wonderment at such an embarrassing performance


So, the idea of symmetry with the teaching career goes out of the bloody window at the first stage.

What an absolutely shocking performance our players turned in yesterday. I won’t use the word “team” in this, because we played nothing like one. It was a collection of individuals pretending to be a unified group in red and white stripes, nothing more.

Our opponents, a decent third level team, stuck to their task well. They were organised, efficient and well drilled. This proved to be far too much for the assembled red and white superstars, who played as if they were up against some wonder team from the upper echelons of La Liga rather than a mid table Division One team.

As I drove across an empty Wearmouth Bridge towards an empty Stadium of Light, I heard the line up and thought, “Hmm, one or two will be keen to show the manager and the assembled fans that they are good enough to play regularly. This makes me look forward to an afternoon of high tempo football and lots of goals whizzing past the Pies goalkeeper”.

How wrong could I be? Quite a lot as it happened. Our “squad” players made it clear that the only squad that applied to them was one they should be stood in front of.Riveros did well in the World Cup. To produce such an antithesis to this performance in the FA Cup took some doing. He looked bemused by the pace of the game and the determination of the Notts players not to allow him to do what he wanted. His career as a Sunderland player is surely ending before it has begun.

The same may well apply to Jack Colback, who has made it clear that he is not particularly interested in being at the club. The 55 minutes he lasted were excruciating to watch as he turned backwards at every opportunity and rarely played a ball forward. He must be hoping that Roy Keane gets fixed up as soon as possible so he can join him.

Andy Reid looked as if he has kept the restaurateurs of Sheffield in business during his loan spell there. He had an absolute shocker, being regularly caught in possession and firing in shots from 35 yards into the sparsely populated North Stand; another one who will not be seen in a SAFC shirt again.

Marcos Angeleri gave a wonderfully comic performance at right back, falling over, hoofing the ball in the air like a third rate rugby union fly half; another short Sunderland career for this mega flop.

Any positives to take from this? No.

As for County, they did well but their players must have been talking all the way back down the motorway about how utterly useless, spineless and brainless their Premier League opponents had been.

The mood of doom and gloom at Sixsmith Towers, already exacerbated by news of Shildon’s 2-0 defeat to Coalville Town in the FA Vase, was lifted a little by news from Stevenage and by reports of Neil Warnock likening EL Hadj-Diouf to a sewer rat. Unfair, as sewer rats act the way they do from instinct, while Diouf makes a choice to act as a complete and utter t***.

So, FA Cup out of the way for another season and a derby to look forward to on Sunday, followed by a tough set of fixtures. Meyler, Cattermole, Welbeck, Onuoha, Turner, Mensah and Campbell out and some players from yesterday clearly not good enough to play. It could be an interesting team selection for Messrs Bruce and Black.

13 thoughts on “Notts County Soapbox: Pies poison us”

  1. How many times have you heard someone say, after their team was eliminated from a cup competition – especially the Carling Cup – “We’re better off out of it. Now we can concentrate on the league.” I’ve said it myself.

    The FA Cup final used to be a real event. Now it’s just another game. The best thing about the tournament is that it gives lesser clubs (such as Stevenage) a chance for a few moments of glory and a bit of extra cash. But that’s not enough to make it relevant or to protect it from the cynicism of certain top clubs.

  2. Some great points on this thread. Particularly the comments fron you Keith. For what it’s worth. I posted these comments somewhere else earlier.

    The reality is that the FA Cup has lost it’s magic. It has been devalued beyond belief because of the importance of the league and the money attached to it. A cup run used to be a money spinner, but no longer. It’s an inconvenience on the schedule, the same at the League Cup which 25 years ago had reached almost equivalent status. It has become devalued by the top clubs using it as a glorified competition for their reserves. Fielding weakened teams used to get you fined. Now it is deemed acceptable. Then there was the ridiculous precedent set by Man Utd withdrawing from it to play in in the World Club Championship in the late 90s. This was confirmation to me that the rot had well and truly set in. With their tradition and history in the FA Cup this was shameful. The only surprising thing about this is that it hasn’t happened again since, although other clubs continually fielding weakened teams is robbing supporters even at reduced prices.

    This accounts for the crowds dropping. Can you imagine that we would have lost 25,000 paying spectators from one week to the next when there was an FA Cup tie on offer? Of course not. The fans aren’t daft. They stay away not necessarily just because we constantly cock it up, but because it no longer means anything. The club offers reduced prices which is fine if people take advantage of it, but at the same time this seems like they are selling you last week’s fish. Then the FA talk about scrapping replays etc. Further devaluation of what was the greatest cup competition in the world. The root cause of all this woe lies in the setting up of the Premier League. Every complaint that people have about effort, team selections, and crowds ultimately traces back to that. Does anyone really think that so many of the bigger clubs would topple so easily and so early in the competition were that not the case? The PL has killled the FA Cup but they aren’t even honest enough to let it lie down.

  3. Monday afternoon watching the snow melt away. Much more entertaining than the crap we were served up with on Saturday. Always a defender of the FA cup I am beginning to question my loyalty to the competition. The few fans who turned up appear to be the only ones who care. For years, poor teams, backed by apologies from management have been thrust upon us. I am at the point now where I question whether I should bother. This season against both Notts County and West Ham in the league cup we were never in danger of winning or even competing for a 50/50 ball. Players sent out and told not to get hurt – or am I being too cynical. Both performances as the Football Echo headlined this weekend – disgraceful. I just keep feeling as thoughI have been cheated and that is not acceptable. And all to watch the reserves. Might have to have a rethink on how I spend my money next season.
    On the subject of Jordan as we are all too aware every player has his price. He is one of the best we have produced but if he has to go then at least we have a chairman and manager who will strike the best deal.
    Welbeck in part exchange seems to be everyones favourite senario. Havent we forgot Campbell who was playing out of his skin at the end of last season. Bent, Gyan, Welbeck and Campbell might be one too many. Money spent elsewhere on the team maybe a better alternative
    Just as an aside a Spurs mate of mine, who does like Bent, said when we bought him that his main problem is the easy chances he misses. Quite true in the last few games!
    See you all Sunday – nerves setting in yet!

  4. “Makes me ashamed to be a member of the same species never mind a follower of the same club.” Malcolm said.

    We have always had our share of imbecliles unfortunately Malcolm. Console yourself that the only common element you share is the latter and not the former. They are the worst sort of invividuals you’ll find anywhere. Complete and utter scum.

  5. We can be grateful for the fact that at least some of the shower that turned out to shame and embarrass us against the other Magpies at the weekend will not be making an appearance against the other lot at the weekend.

    That’s one (if the only) consolation.

  6. The atmosphere was totally flat on Saturday . The County supporters sang their hearts out – but where was the Sunderland choir ?? Why sell all the seats in the East Stand and leave the South West Corner empty where our most vociferous supporters congregate ?
    That apart and taking into account all the negative reactions – we still should have won the game – 2 bad errors for their goals – and quite a few chances missed by ourselves . That’s no excuse for the performance though – which was poor until the introduction of Henderson , Elmo and Bardsley . I thought Da Silva did okay . Riveros was quite neat and tidy – but thats not what you need in a Cup game ; Angeleri looked really nervous adn Colback doesn’t look to have the quality to make it in the Premiership . Andy Reid was the most disappointing – a good stone and a half overweight and in dire need of shooting practise !!

  7. There are two things that did me in with ManU, both a few years ago. The first was one time I was over in England and staying for a couple of days in Salford, not far from Old Trafford. I was walking along the street and met a stream of fans coming the ground. There was no sign of celebration or anything and I assumed they’d either lost or played a draw. I asked someone and he said, “We won,” in rather surprised tones, as if to say, “What did you expect?” But there was no joy in the victory, it just seemed to be routine.

    The second was a few days I spent in Singapore. There was a shop there that sold nothing but ManU merchandise. That’s when I started thinking of them as Brandchester United.

    I have no time for a team like that, or fans like that either. And I hope SB wouldn’t jump at Ferguson’s job if it came vacant. Because Sunderland’s on the rise and there’s only one direction for ManU to go: down. It’s happened to others, it could happen to them. As Martin knows — we crossed swords about it — I had my misgivings about Bruce at the start of the season. But I can’t see now how his heart COULDN’T be in it; he could make Sunderland the pinnacle of his career. At ManU, he’d never move out of the shadow of Ferguson’s legend.

    If Henderson moved to ManU or Chelsea, he might easily become just another warm body. My gut feeling is that he’ll stay at the SoL. And it’ll be the making of him.

  8. Absolutely Bill – excellent post sir, enjoyed every word.

    I hope you’re right about Brucie. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but anyone ever connected with Man United tend to put the club on a pedestal – it actually becomes a little tedious – or is it jealousy on my part! They even use the same grammatical innuendos such as repeating a word twice “very very” or “top, top”. “I have to say” is another one. Watch out for it! You get the feeling that if Steve was offered the job after Ferguson retires, he would jump at it. But wouldn’t it be a much greater achievement to bring success to a club like ours? I believe that he has the potential to become one of the all time greats. I think he could do for us what Cloughie did for Nottingham Forest. But his heart has to remain in it. The grass isn’t greener elsewhere. Bring success to Sunderland and you will catapult to hero status, during and after life!

    Those words “Premiership title” and “success in Europe” almost bring a lump to my throat! That’s what it means to us. The prawn sandwich brigade have seen it all before, hence their rubbish atmosphere, despite a 75,000 attendance!!

    If SAF let Welbeck sign permanently in any Henderson deal, it would certainly take the sting out of it, but if he stays I totally agree that the “act of faith” would vehemently underline our statement of intent. Here’s hoping we keep him but I seriously doubt it.

  9. A lot of food for thought in what you say, Martin. Whichever way it goes, I don’t think Sunday’s game will be a close one. Either they’ll stuff us again or we’ll get our revenge and stuff them. It depends on which side can pull themselves together the quickest from the Cup fiasco. We’ll need to be on the move with the ball from the first whistle; no waiting to let the Mags bring the game to us. I’m still not convinced that Da Silva couldn’t turn into an asset at the SoL.

    As for Jordan Henderson, from what I’ve been reading he seems pretty committed to Sunderland and you’ve got to love him for that. Any 20-year-old could be forgiven for having his head turned and being ready to jump at an offer from the likes of ManU, Chelsea or Arsenal. I just hope that no one comes up with the “crazy” money Bruce says it would take to buy Henderson. And, though I may be wrong (it happens!), I’m getting the feeling SB isn’t quite as dazzled by ManU and Ferguson as he used to be. I think he’s starting to realize that the Cats could be on the verge of something great. A Premiership title, maybe, as well as some success in Europe.

    Part of the key to that happening is Henderson staying at Sunderland and developing within the club into the wonderful player that he’s destined to become. Not only would this in itself be invaluable to Sunderland, there’s also a significant symbolic side to it — a man who has the seeds of greatness opting not to go with one of the top three teams but to stay with his home club and to develop in tandem with them. It’s an act of faith that says Sunderland has that potential and the two can grow together. Henderson staying with Sunderland could be — and I don’t mean this as a pun — a game-changer for the team. It could change the way other promising youngsters regard the club. Not just as a place to mark time while they attract the attention of a bigger fish, but a place for them to aspire to.

    If Henderson goes? Well, presumably Bruce would have a big chunk of money to spend on a good replacement! And the team would survive and maybe even flourish. We have some terrific players and, presumably, if Henderson went to Old Trafford, we’d get to keep Danny Welbeck as part of the deal. Welbeck’s injury will heal and he’ll come back and score goals for us. We might yet get into the Champions League.

    No team is built around one man. So, in practical terms, Henderson’s departure wouldn’t be like knocking over a house of cards. The side wouldn’t collapse. But I do believe it would take something spiritual away that wouldn’t be easy to replace. As I say, Henderson staying with the Cats amounts to an act of faith and that’s what we need to move mountains. He’s an important part of Sunderland, present and future, and I’d hate to see him go.

  10. I’ve got one of your feelings like you had against Blackpool that we’ll get stuffed Bill. Unless we can get Muntari and Sessegnon as planned. We’ve got too many injuries otherwise, and I have that familiar sinking feeling!!

    Yesterday should serve as proof that SB was right all along about leaving the Paraguayans out the team. They are nowhere near as good as their competition.

    I am reading a lot of speculation regarding Jordan going to Man U and that Fergie has made his mind up – it’s just a matter of when – (probably the summer) It makes me pig-sick that any outstanding player will be “bought-up” by the big teams – every single time. We take the Mick out of Scotland and the dominance of Celtic and Rangers, but we’re exactly the same. Why do we not do something about the Monopolization of best talent – salary capping or something. It works in the NHL and games are more closely contested – and better entertainment. Henderson is a breath of fresh air – the best prospect I’ve ever seen at Sunderland. He’s comfortable on the ball – he’s a total natural, he’s got leadership potential, not to mention his skill and reading of the game. But he’s off in the summer. We get to see his class for two seasons and then he’s away to Smugchester Utd. They’ve won 17 million trophies and we’ve won a bucket.
    I know it’s the reality, but wouldn’t it be amazing if Sunderland, Everton, Villa or Scunthorpe won the Premiership. Someome other than Man U Arsenal, Chelsea.

    I would like to see Steve Bruce abandon his much talked about admiration for his old club and tell SAF to sling his hook as far as Henderson is concerned. Whilst I am thrilled with our progression, I would like to see us holding onto talent such as Jordan and making a serious challenge for a Champions League position. Why not??? If we talk about ourselves as “also rans” that’s all we’ll ever be. I don’t want to hear about how difficult it is to keep hold of a class player, I want to hear how they won’t be going anywhere – at least not without a big fight. If it was me, I wouldn’t care about the name – or the reputation, I’d get the boy the big contract and give the rest the finger.

    I would be interested to hear viewpoints from the likes of Colin, Sixer, Bill, Jeremy, Malcolm or anyone else for that matter, regarding the issue of keeping or selling Jordan Henderson, and the implications of both eventualities. He’s our boy, and I would love him to stay. What say you?

  11. Well there was one positive from yesterday and that was the quality of Darren Bent’s penalty. After some of his more recent efforts that was good to see.

    Apart from that he had a couple more chances that he would have gleefully put away last season. I am beginning to worry about the ratio of chances to goals he his getting although it’s not like the side are creating that many clear chances.

    Another positive – the three subs all injected some urgency into the game but like Pete I was hugely disappointed that Da Silva, Riveros and Colback looked like players who never wanted to be considered for selection again. At least Reid made some effort.

    Finally to finish off a total day of disappointment, it was pathetic to hear some of our so called “fans” posturing and gesturing to County supporters as they got into their cars and walked over the Wearmouth Bridge.

    What kind of six foot, twenty something moron shouts “Oi Sam, Ben! F*** O** black and white scum” to two lads circa 10 and 8 with their names on their replica shirts as they headed back to St Mary’s car park?

    Makes me ashamed to be a member of the same species never mind a follower of the same club.

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