Salut! Sunderland’s end-of-season reviews: (7) slower than my 9-year-olds

Another of Jake's Generics
Jake: ‘we had joy, we had fun … and then we had seasons watching Sunderland’

Stephen Goldsmith
is not just a budding broadcast sports journalist, podcast wizard and Salut! Sunderland assistant editor. He also coaches children. In the latest of our end-of-season reviews – the series will end soon with Pete Sixsmith‘s calculations of how well spent his season ticket money was – Goldy says his young charges show more movement and pace than our midfield managed at times …

Well they do say football is a real life soap opera.

The extent to which Sunderland’s neighbours 11 miles up the road legitimise that theory often puts it beyond doubt, but the last six or seven weeks has had us in the thick of our own little juicy storyline. A manager with an explosive personality, and who is very much a novice at the top level, was brought in under national scrutiny because of past endeavours. What will happen from here is very much anyone’s guess.

It’s certainly a far cry from the distinct dullness we all witnessed previous to his appointment. And boy had it been dull.

I kept believing in O’Neill, I really did.

I don’t even feel his footballing philosophies are as unworkable as people make out. They’re a little outdated and will never win a side the Premier League, but as was proven by the new-found direction the players moved in upon Bruce’s departure, they can prevail in modern football. Well, to an extent.

But it was precisely that little post-Bruce spell that fooled everybody, including O’Neill. If a side is to sit as deep as we did without the ball, dominant and forceful central midfielders are essential when breaking. The performance levels of our midfielders before their drastic decline clearly led the manager to believe he didn’t need to utilise the transfer market as a means of making this happen. He should have, as an inabilty to dictate games or offer any real fluency resulted in some of the most hideous and uninspiring football witnessed for many year.

Play was laboured and movement was static, so much so I’m convinced I even had my under 9s move the ball quicker.

It’s all well and good buying a flair player such as Johnson but you need the mentioned midfield types to be that platform for them to receive the ball in dangerous areas. Cattermole’s injury didnt help of course, nor did allowing David Meyler to leave without at least offering him the chance to show us what he had to offer. The whole thing was a disaster. N’Diaye was added by January but he was too little, too late.

Yet O’Neill’s failure to adapt to what he had was the biggest disappointment of all. He’s recently scoffed at suggestions that he’s a little old-fashioned yet he admitted that talk of having a Plan B is new to him. Excuse me? If one statement could sum up his time here this season, it would be “no Plan B”. And his Plan A resulted in 40,000 people attending matches in body but not mind for the best part of a season.

Jake and the final analysis
Jake and the final analysis

* See the full series of 2013 End-of-season reviews at this link:

Steven Fletcher’s goals and Simon Mignolet’s saves have been like gold dust for us this term, they are two highlights in an incredibly forgetful season.

By the time of the Man Utd game, we were on our knees as rival clubs started to stroll past us in the race for survival. The appointment of Di Canio was the nudge that shoved us across the finish line with memorable wins over Newcastle and Everton being the force behind it. But it was all a bit too close for comfort and the downward force we are moving with is alarming.

I will finish by reminding people that contrary to popular belief we didn’t rely on Arsenal to keep us up.

We finished three points ahead of Wigan, had a significantly better goal difference and beat them twice. Nothing to write home about, sure, but we’ve enough negatives to worry about without creating more based on distorted facts.

1973 May 5See all Salut! Sunderland’s articles recalling May 5 1973 and the run that took SAFC to FA Cup glory:

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16 thoughts on “Salut! Sunderland’s end-of-season reviews: (7) slower than my 9-year-olds”

  1. Stoke have spent a fortune and got very little back in transfer fees .The football is terrible to watch and Pulis has gone. We were worse this season but Wigan,Qpr and Reading were even worse than us and rightly went down,luck had nothing to do with it .

  2. A find it amazing Stoke City who a far better season than the one described above, want to move in a different direction and sack Pullis, if its not broken why fix it. I remember Blackburn sacking Allerdyce for no reason, Wolve getting rid of McCarthy look where they are now.Itis great to be ambitious but it must be tempered with reality. Do Stoke believe Pullis was a failure? They have over achieved for years yet they give him the boot. Sunderland need stability :-)they need determation and a manager with a vision, whether we have that or not remains to be seen but we need to grow and get better and that t akes patience

    • Stoke fans and the board have had enough of Pulis’ style of ootball, the novelty has worn off.

      He’s been given the chance to adapt but has failed by all accounts and reverted to type more than once. It’s harsh but it’s evolution. Look at Southampton for an example of how it can be done successfully.

      • If Soton are still doing it in the premiership a year from now I’ll consider it a success. But not before then.

      • Absolutely no surprise to me that Pulis got binned. It’s gone totally flat at Stoke and if he was still there I would have though they’d be looking at relegation.

        He has signed numerous quality players and failed to integrate them, then gone back to his workman like selections.

        The new guy coming in is going to have a real tough job changing a team who were so set in their ways, with effective players in their system.

        They may well struggle next season anyway. Big transition for Stoke.

  3. Luck, over a season, evens out amongst those near the bottom of the league. Luck, in individual games, stands out in the mind. We might have seemed lucky to stay up, but inreality we weren’t. Had Wigan been able to produce their cup form throughout the league season, they’d have stayed up and deservedly so. We got more points than they did, therefore luck didn’t enter into it. Were Man U lucky that City didn’t get more points than them? No.

    “.in body but not in mind…” Sums up the experience of most of the season for most of us.

  4. We were lucky, they were unlucky? How? This seems a tad illogical to me.

    They were relying on our results too! We had to get 35 points for them to get above us.

    They needed us to lose pretty much out last 6 games and we didn’t.

    We all have to play 38 games. Surely the order they come in and where points are accumulated over the course of a season are statistically irrelevant?

    • Not going to get into the semantics of the word ‘Luck’ but luck is just a word used trying to make something tangible thet is inherently intangible.

      As you rightly say we had more points than them and that is the basic mathematics of it so well done lads for managing to get a totally pathetic points haul for the season after significant investment in the Club, after 40k supporters turning up for each home game.

      Give yourselves a pat on the back for ensuring our premier league survival, you won enough points, even when other teams could have overtaken us they failed, so well done boys for havibg the belif that they would F#*k up, outstanding.

      • I’m not saying this season has been great or that we haven’t been rubbish.

        The fact is that Wigan were worse than us. That is undeniable as they finished below us.

        They have nice pies, good ticket prices, a nice manager, an eccentric chairman, a load of players near the bottom of the rich list (still millionaires mind, not part timers like some would have you think after their FA Cup win), pass the ball nicely etc.

        The salient fact is they finished on 36 points. They got relegated.

        They were very poor for about 30 games. They didn’t time their late run as well as usual.

        We also took 6 points from Wigan. You finish where you deserve to finish.

      • Gareth You say

        ‘They were very poor for about 30 games’

        and we were what………..very poor since the cup defeat to Everton last season. Our record had relegation material stamped all over it.

        Wigan’s Cup exploits quite clearly took it out of them, that was very fortunate for us.

      • The F.A Cup didn’t take it out of them enough to prevent them winning it! They then lost at Arsenal, like most of the Premier League do.

        I can’t get my head around this theory at all.

      • Wigan’s record literally had relegation stamped all over it.

        Again, I said we were poor all season. I don’t really see the logic in this.

        Wigan didn’t do enough to stay up. We did.

  5. Well we had our own destiny in our own hands, irrespective of how many times we beat Wigan, but we failed to do the business, we did not rise to the challenge of ensuring our own safety.

    By not doing that we became dependent on the results from other games, it was out of our hands, made worse because if we needed extra points we were unlikely to get them at Spurs.

    In my book as soon as you become dependent on other teams results you can view your survival as fortunate, Wigan were unlucky, we were lucky.

  6. Yes we did finish three points clear but at half-time in the Arsenal v Wigan game can you honestly say you thought we would survive? i didn’t and am grateful that in the end Arsenal’s superior players did the business.

    • But you can say that about any single side that beat them over the course of a season. We drew at Arsenal, one of three more points acheived than Wigan.

      Of course I was thankful for that game but they fell short in the end due to their entire league campaign. We beat them twice, if any games are to be defined as season deciders it is those two. That’s a 12 point swing-around.

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