A visit home to Sunderland from US exile set Lars Knutsen thinking about when the GR – SAFC’s Great Revival – will start. Another defeat seems to many so obvious an outcome at Everton today that we might as well have have faxed the points to Goodison and saved on travel costs. But Lars recalls another November away trip when Sunderland managed to tear up the downbeat script …
Who the heck knows what is really going on at the Sunderland Stadium of Light at the moment?
We are having a poor run, and I hate to use that word that all headmasters love to use to crush their pupils when required – but that word is “disappointing”.
We seemed to have excellent pre-season run of recruitment with some great signings, Martin O’Neill using his undoubted charisma to bring some fantastic players on board. But things are just not clicking.
Unlike the Peter Reid teams of over a decade ago, the current side seems at present to be less than the sum of its parts.
Those promising summer signings, with the exception of Steven Fletcher, have generally disappointed the fans, and even stalwarts like Sessegnon has spluttered.
Creative wingers like Johnson and McClean have not provided what central strikers need. I read one article stating that the two most regular starters in wide positions have atrocious crossing statistics; four of Johnson’s 41 crosses have found a team-mate, McClean has completed three from 38. Less than 10 per cent accuracy – after they’ve manufactured space for a cross in the first place.
Add to that a week from hell with two home defeats – plus a complete lack of goals from midfield in the league so far – and one can see why we are in the middle of such a horrible run of one win in 17.
Draws mean that we have picked up points, but the worry is that the team have not really played well since we led for most of the game at Manchester City, the day before April Fools’.
When Kevin Phillips came from Watford for £375000, and just a couple of seasons later won the European Golden Boot award for 30 goals in his first Premiership season, he took about 10 minutes to build up an almost telepathic relationship with Niall Quinn.
That is all the stuff of club legend, but the impression is that chemistry, telepathy or whatever one wants to call it is lacking in the team at the moment. Nothing seems to be clicking, with a disastrous effects on the psychology and self-confidence of the side.
But it’s that time of year so think back …
On November 14, two years ago, the Sunderland side rolled up at Chelsea, with the press and media expecting us to roll over and die, but we came up with a performance that stunned the whole division, by tonking Chelsea 3-0, without our leading scorer.
What we need is a similar decisive win soon, and that will transform the morale and future performances of the team. Today at Goodison Park would be a great place to start a run of wins. This expensively-assembled team must click soon.