Sixer’s Soapbox: Sunderland boys pass their Reading test

Malcolm Dawson writes …

It was cold last night at the Stadium of Light, when Reading came into town. It began like a dream, when our own James McClean put the visiting side one nil down. After such a great start, the defence played their part and Mignolet seldom looked troubled. Before very long, with our wide men on song, Sunderland’s lead was doubled. Young Danny Rose as his confidence grows, gets forward more and more. It was his measured kick and Fletcher’s deft flick, that effectively slammed closed the door. There was more of the same as we went through the game, Reading rarely looked in it. And how the crowd roared when Sessegnon scored again in the ninety third minute. So with a win to our name, we can face the next game, with hopes and ambitions anew. Our hiccups now cured, three points are assured – after all it’s only Man U.

Sixer smiles again

Peter Sixsmith, whilst delighted with the result is however, not going overboard…


It was a pleasure to get up this morning and select a white shirt for work. That, along with a Sunderland tie, is my usual apparel after a win. They have been lingering at the bottom of the shirt draw since March, making only fleeting appearances.

As are Reading in the Premier League if last night was anything to go by. They were as poor a side as they were the last time they visited us and they went down at the end of that season, while we finished 15th. I can see the same happening this year.

Our performance was good enough to beat Reading. We scored three goals for the first time since Manchester City away last season. (except for Fulham - thanks Sobs for pointing that out - ed) That all three came from players we expect to score is a bonus. No own goals or spectacular attempts from full backs, but solid goals from McClean, Fletcher and Sessegnon, names that should be appearing regularly on the scoresheet, gives some grounds for optimism.

McClean took the first one well, courtesy of some wretched goalkeeping from Federici. He should have caught the corner from Johnson and should have reacted quicker to the Derry man’s shot. He didn’t, and that gave us a perfect start.

Fletcher’s goal was a real striker’s goal. He reacted quickly to Rose’s through ball and finish was a sublime flick that left the keeper standing. At 2-0, it would have taken a Herculean effort by our defence to allow the Biscuitmen anything but crumbs.

Jake says: 'What about Danny Rose eh? Can you be called a colossus if you're only five foot eight?'

We did help them by giving the ball away with regular monotony. It is infuriating to watch the players retain possession by playing it sideways and backwards and then, when the killer ball is required, giving it back to the opposition. All four midfielders were responsible for this and they were aided by O’Shea, whose distribution is on a par with Gary Breen of the fondly remembered 15 point season.

The back four were rarely threatened by a limp Reading attack and this gave Rose plenty of opportunities to move forward. He really does look a good player and my initial doubts about him are disappearing rapidly. He tackles well, goes forward effectively and excites the crowd – something that the likes of Gardner, Colback and Larsson rarely do.

Rose - a thorn in Reading's side

I am sure that MON would like to put him on the permanent staff in January, but that depends on Spurs willingness to sell at a reasonable price and if Rose is willing to come to a club that still has a relegation battle on its hands. His Northern roots will hopefully pull him towards Sunderland rather than any other London club.

However, the real priority is a midfield player who will energise us. The current centre midfield pairing of Larsson (who had a good game last night – but he should have scored) and Colback, does not play at a high enough tempo. A player who can seize a game and score a couple of goals is required – from where I know not. It’s time for Pop Robson and Gordon Chisholm to rack up a few air miles to find us a Ukrainian or a Belgian who can do it.

Our rhythm, what there was of it, was not helped by injuries and subsequent reshuffles. Adam Johnson failed to reappear after half time due to a mean and unpleasant tackle by Jodi McAnuff, who put his leg across Johnson to stop him moving sideways.

It was a nasty challenge, totally unnecessary and reminiscent of one that I made on Barry Thompson in the school yard circa 1967. Barry picked himself up and punched me hard, three times, before saying “You won’t do that again, will you?” Had we a Kevin Ball or Jimmy McNab in this team, McAnuff would have spent the second half hiding in the showers. We are a bit of a soft touch at times.

So, we are out of the bottom three and trail our (allegedly) illustrious neighbours by a point. There is still a long way to go and we must start to pick up points between now and the end of January.

We go to Old Trafford on Saturday. I don’t think the white shirt will be needed on Monday.

Colin Randall disguised as Monsieur Salut, by Matt

See also: Monsieur Salut at ESPN FC. Click on extract for full article:

“In no sense can O’Neill dare to believe the corner has been fully turned. Indeed, he could do worse than invoke that Churchillian mixture of spirit and realism, which can be trimmed for these purposes to ‘not the end, not even the beginning of the end but perhaps the end of the beginning’.”

Join the Salut! Sunderland Facebook group – click anywhere along this line

And follow us on Twitter: @salutsunderland … click along this line

Click anywhere on this sentence for a glance at the home page – and highlights of all the most recent articles …

Click here for the Martin O’Neill ‘Team of all Talents’ mug: £9.50, post-free for UK buyers, from the Salut! Sunderland Shop

16 thoughts on “Sixer’s Soapbox: Sunderland boys pass their Reading test”

  1. I think it will be difficult to prise an established central midfielder away from from any Premiership teams in this window. So MON may well have to look abroad. Not sure why people think he is reluctant to buy from overseas. Celtic had a fair number of overseas players and didn’t he bring Petrov,Carew and Mellberg to Villa.

    Dawson would be a good signing.Not sure that we need another striker seeing as Wickham is showing so much promise of late.Central midfielder like Emerson who played for Boro years ago would be ideal as would a good right back. Steal a march on Pardew and sign Debuchy maybe.

  2. Things are much more upbeat on here today lads. Thanks Bill.

    McCarthy is a good player Goldy. Why not get them both? 🙂

  3. The player I like is Shaun Maloney, who has done well for Wigan. He’s player that was signed and sold by O’Neill so an unlikely target. Peter Whittingham at Cardiff is another one that I think could make a difference to us. Probably equally as unlikely would be Joe Cole.

    I’m expecting a thumbs down for that as well Goldy. If I wish everybody a Merry Christmas I’m sure I could get two. 🙂

  4. Very pleased with the win despite our inability to kill the game off.Ming made two excellent saves late on without which it could have been a very edgy last ten minutes or so.

  5. You’re getting a ‘thumbs down’ off somebody, no matter what you say Jeremy.

    I fear MoN’s reluctance to buy abroad will be the main sticking point in any new arrival. A proven Premier League central midfielder will cost a fortune. Is there anybody still in the prime years age group that needs their career kick-starting?

    Missed a trick with Diame being available on a free.

    • It’s a good question Jeremy, for which I wish I had the answer!

      All I can say is that I would have briefed my scouts to find me someone as close to Yaya Toure as they can.

      I live in hope.

  6. Sorry Sobs; I had meant to say against 11 men.
    The Cahill link is an interesting one. He always did well against us. That means…… (insert comment here).
    A good day to be a Sunderland fan. Smiles all round and the mini-Mags in 10W were very quiet.

  7. We are making slow but steady progress and it is good to see a group of comments without a gripe about the manager. I, for one, rate MON as one of the best in the Premiership, and as someone who, given time and support, will create a good side for us to enjoy.

    At present, we should accept that we have a number of deficiencies that will take maybe another 3 or 4 transfer windows to correct. In the short term it is vital that we get a cracking central midfield player who can comfortably go past a player and who has the ability to control the tempo of the game with a variety of short and long passes. I know, this will not be easy or cheap, but it is vital nonetheless.

    It is interesting to see the influence Rose has on the team when he goes past players both wide and in the centre of the field. Johnson is now beginning to use his natural dribbling skill, and Sessegnon had his best game of the season last night with reliable tight control and more than a bit of pace in his direct attacking moves. Fletcher also had a couple of very nice dribbles that caused general panic and great excitement for us. I firmly believe that a lack of confidence/ability (for some) in dribbling was at the heart of our struggle to score in earlier games, and it is good to see the players trying to overcome this.

    Finally, I would note that we now have an indoor training facility for this winter, which I believe will make a major difference to training and the ability of the coaching staff to improve the skill-base of the existing first team squad.

    I look forward patiently to a continued improvement with an acceleration after the recruitment of a couple of key players in January.

  8. Huge relief. Reading were very poor. We won comfortably without playing very well. Great to see three goals in one game!

    Let’s not get carried away. Hopefully we can build on this from here on in. Saturday’s game is a very different prospect. Let’s hope we can give a good account down there.

  9. Was nice just to turn up to a game at home and witness a routine win, plenty of chances and three goals. I think I needed that for my mental health. Seriously.

  10. Yes, let’s not get carried away,.We had to win and we did.There is still a hard December fixture list to get through,we will know how we are standing by New Year.

    It was a bonus to win comfortably,the early goal was crucial and settled the nerves.Fletcher’s goal was class.But as you say our midfield is not strong enough and we are in serious need of another striker.

    Was talking to John Egan yesterday (who has sadly returned from loan from Bradford with a broken leg)who said Tim Cahill was a possible target for us.

Comments are closed.

Next Post