M Salut’s prediction that Marseille, having gone top, would stay there lasted all of a few days. Interesting, but no one here really cares about that. What we do care about is what has happened to Sunderland. Pete Sixsmith puts up with a lot in the name of supporting SAFC and reporting so compellingly for Salut! Sunderland. Much more of this, though, and he may well take up matchday trainspotting …
A week on from the win over Wigan that looked as if it had given us a base to build on for the fag end of the season, we are back to where we were after Manchester City, West Brom etc.
Make no mistake (as the manager is fond of saying), this was a shocker. The second half brought to mind the likes of Breen, Lawrence and Davies as we crumbled against a neat and tidy, but hardly world beating Fulham side.
It started off well. A pint in The Kings Arms with an old college mate from Edinburgh, celebrating his 60th birthday and a sunlit Stadium of Light augured well. Team selection as expected with Sessegnon up front and Muntari restored and a Fulham side with little to play for.
The first 15 minutes was fine with some sharp passing and a real desire to get at the visitors. Cattermole was excellent, driving on from midfield and the back four looked solid. But after the initial impact had worn off, Fulham got into the game and scored with their first meaningful attack.
It was down to clever play by Zamora and some shoddy defending. Once again, we failed to get a tackle in and Turner was left exposed and facing the wrong direction. He is struggling badly and it looks like he has lost whatever confidence he had.
Cattermole should have equalised straight away but didn’t – another example of getting into a good position and then wasting it. However,the half time mood was more upbeat than down.
Then came 45 minutes of sheer purgatory that could well be a large nail in the managers coffin. From being neat and tidy we became a disorganised rabble. The two goals we conceded were eerily reminiscent of the 2005-06 season, when players were totally out of their depth. The same is happening now. Elmohamady a Premier League full back? Don’t make me laugh. A right full back playing on the left? Ridiculous.
Onuoha did well and looked the part until he was sent forward. Muntari’s body language as he was substituted indicated that he would not be at Sunderland next season and probably not at Bolton next week. Cattermole ran out of steam, Malbranque departed early and we threw on the elderly Zenden and the youthful Lynch.
Desperate stuff from a manager who is very close to losing the support of the crowd. The phone in to Radio Newcastle after the game was almost exclusively negative and nobody, Gary Bennett included, showed any confidence in Bruce’s ability to take the club forward.
Other results on Saturday were not great and we are still in danger of the drop. It is difficult to see another point being gained this season. We can’t score, can’t defend and create very little. Apart from that, we are fine. Europa League here we come …