Sunderland (3) 4 Stoke City (0) 0: why on earth were we worried?

It was only half time and we all knew anything could happen. But we were three up and then, instead of trying to sit on even so comfortable a lead, we went quickly back on to the offensive and scored a fourth.

Suddenly it was as if there had never been any serious reason to fret. A win of any kind would have made us feel good, so the most neutral of onlookers would need no prize for guessing our response to a thumping victory.

Titus Bramble scored a rare goal, thanks to a goalkeeping error by Begovic, who fumbled the shot on his line, Jonathan Woodgate beat Nicklas Bendtner to a high Larsson cross and headed beautifully over his keeper for a spectacular own goal and then Craig Gardner’s shot from the edge of the area took a deflection on its way into the net.

Sunderland being Sunderland, we still wondered whether the Lads would keep it going. Or would Tony Pulis find it within him to urge Stoke on to a storming second-half comeback?

Seb Larsson, involved in each of the first half goals, calmly dispatched a free kick into the bottom left hand corner from the edge of the area and we had our answer.

There was no fluke to the scoreline. We had played with power and commitment, but also with a fair degree of style. The Stoke threat had amounted to one long throw after another by Rory Delap and one well-struck free kick that Simon Mignolet saved impressively. Mignolet dealt far more confidently with penalty-box bustle that Craig Gordon did in last season’s infamous game at the Britannia.

The midfield of Elmohamady, Gardner, Vaughan and Larsson fought to gain and keep possession. No Cattermole, who will be unhappy to have been relegated to the bench, but this turned out to be the absolutely correct decision and no one can register serious complaint about Steve Buce’s selection. Sessegon and Bendtner were a constant menace and Stoke were frankly never in it, Brown, Bramble and O’Shea coping admirably with whatever Stoke threw at them.

An awful lot was a stake today. We could have put money on it being a tight, nervy affair. When nothing of the sort occurred, it was a revelation.

Only 32,000 turned up. Not a great crowd, which must be partly explained at least by the dismal start to the
season and recent turmoil at the club, but the figures will rise if we build on this outstanding result, starting in particular with the visit to Carrow Road a week on Monday.

Come back to Salut! Sunderland in the next 24 hours or so for Pete Sixsmith’s incomparable analysis of the game.

Monsieur Salut

6 thoughts on “Sunderland (3) 4 Stoke City (0) 0: why on earth were we worried?”

  1. Great result, if fortunate in places. One down three to go for SB’s rehabilitation. We look to be heading in the right direction again but (one swallow does not spring make), consistency is king. SB needed a result and the team gave him it.

    Vaughan is a must start as he adds elements to our play that we have been lacking. Still worried on the striker front but its always nice to see goals spread around the team.

    Report card for season so far would read’ slow poor start, but showings signs of improvement’. These signs must keep coming for real improvements to be evident, we’ve seen too many false dawns.

  2. Alan says “The problem is if they keep winning we will forgive him almost anything.”

    Well if we do keep winning we should forgive him because it will show that he is developing as a manager and is learning from experience. I have been suggesting that we should judge the manager on how he utilises the resources at his disposal. As Pete says, the starting XI was a better balanced side with Vaughan and Elmo providing options that Cattermole and Colback wouldn’t.

    What this game showed yet again is that fortunes can rest upon the smallest of margins. Had the keeper held Bramble’s shot, had Woodgate headed over the bar and had the deflection from Gardner’s effort sent the ball wide of the target it could all have been a bit more nail biting. But they didn’t and with points there for the taking in the coming games let’s hope Bill’s apprehension is misplaced!

    As for Crouch – he has the big feet already and a flower that squirts water. Thank goodness his missus prefers Alderley Edge to Seaham Harbour.

  3. Why on earth were we worried? Because there was very little reason, given past events, to expect this would happen. As Pete says in his Sevens, what a difference the right selection makes. This was a team playing totally different football, and not before time.
    Whether Bruce has learned anything from today’s game remains to be seen. Which is why some of us will be a bit worried next week, too.

  4. Close one between Bendtner, Vaughan, Bramble and Brown. And maybe Sessegnon. Oh, and Gardner and Elmo did well while Mignolet was strong in goal.
    But for me, it was Peter Crouch, who showed 32,000 people why we should NEVER EVER consider signing him.
    I bet he has a car that falls apart when he turns on the ignition!!!

  5. At least this is why we said the team needed time to gel it is also why we did so well at the start of last season playing a passing game of attacking football.

    It is wonderful and satisfying but does not ameliorate any of Bruce’s glaring shortcomings involving injuries and a failure to replace three specific positions in the team. The problem is if they keep winning we will forgive him almost anything.

    They played with style and a hunger to win today. and one man seemed to be sole provider and scorer of a superb free kick. Who got MOM?

  6. This is what has been driving us all crazy, how is it we can play like that one week then be completely inept for months on end?

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