Sixer’s Man Utd Soapbox: De Gea de difference

Came second again, says Jake
Came second again, says Jake

Malcolm Dawson writes…in all honesty I’m not sure many of us in our heart of hearts expected a win but as always most of us will have wished for a performance that would produce an upset. We always go in hope, even when we don’t go in expectation and for a while on Saturday, it looked as if our hopes and dreams just might come true. It was a gutsy first half followed by the down to earth reality which is part and parcel of being a Sunderland fan. As usual Peter Sixsmith was perched on his eyrie, high in the East Stand and as usual he brings us his version of events on the pitch.

David De Gea was, according to his former goalkeeping coach Eric Steele, “a poor trainer, who ate too many tacos and who still had some issues at Manchester United”.

After the game turning save that he made in the 34th minute 40,000 Sunderland fans went away wishing that he had stuffed himself with tacos on Saturday lunchtime, thereby reducing his agility to the level of Iain Hesford.

There we were, 1-0 up and playing some very good football. The defending was solid, with the mistakes of the past few weeks eliminated. The midfield, wonderfully led by a resurgent Lee Cattermole , was ratting around and disturbing Carrick, the ephemeral Cleverley and Rooney, while up front, Altidore had seriously unsettled Vidic and Jones.
These two had very kindly presented Craig Gardner with an easy opportunity in the fifth minute which he promptly took and, despite a couple of scares, we were by far the better side.

Then, in that fateful thirty fourth minute, Adam Johnson did what he is very good at as he wriggled away from two defenders, and delivered a superb cross to Emmanuelle Giaccherini, unmarked at the near post. De Gea was poised to go to his left, so Giaccherini changed direction and headed it towards his right hand post. The mercurial Italian was celebrating a brilliant goal, but it was De Gea who changed direction and pushed the ball round the post – and it was United who were celebrating one of the finest saves I have ever seen, reminiscent of the one Monty made at Boothferry Park in 1973 to thwart Roy Greenwood.

There was another chance as Johnson once again set up Giaccherini, but this time De Gea’s rubber like agility was not needed as the ball was placed emphatically over the crossbar – and with that, went our chance of taking our first three points of the season.

The general consensus, as we discussed the first half, was that we would do extremely well to maintain that level of intensity for another 45 minutes and that if we could see that, Moyes and his staff certainly would. George In Front said that we had to hold them for the first twenty minutes if we were to hold on; alas we didn’t.
They came out with a much more positive approach and took the game to us. Legs and minds were tired and we conceded two goals to a Belgian/ Kosovon/Albanian child from Brussels, called Adnan Januzaj. That both were exceptionally well taken is scant consolation. The second came from a poor defensive header by John O’Shea, who, more and more, looks like yesterday’s man.
Mind you, Januzaj has been well versed in Manchester United tactics. As a midfielder, he will have spent time with Ashley Young and Nani, the biggest baby ever to play professional football, and they must get him to dive better. The one at the start of the second half, which earned him a booking, was in the Steven Taylor class – thank goodness that Howard Webb wasn’t the man in the middle.

As it was, Chris Foy had a good game, but I was very disappointed with his booking of Craig Gardner for a handball offence. Patrice Evra had been guilty of an identical misdemeanour in the first half and was not booked. It looked as if Foy was going to make the same decision re Gardner, until Vidic (probably still smarting from the cock ups he had made in the first half) started waving an imaginary yellow card around and shouting at Foy. Predictably, Foy buckled, Gardner was booked and was now one slip away from a sending off. You could see the effect it had on Gardner, who had had a very good game and it led to him being replaced by Larsson between the equalizer and the winner. As Mike Gatting once said (probably through a mouthful of cheese roll);”One rule for one and one for another”.

It was a creditable performance and the first half was as well as we have played all season. But once again, we came away with nothing and the position at the bottom of the league is looking increasingly permanent as the likes of Fulham and Norwich begin to pick up points.

Any watching managerial candidate (that guy in front of me with the patently false beard looked a lot like Tony Pulis) would have been impressed with the ethos of the team. They worked hard for each other, there was no sign of fragmentation and they played some decent football. But, chances at this level have to be taken and the fact that we didn’t, allowed an initially shaky Manchester United team to drag themselves back into the game.

What now? We have two weeks off and it is essential that a permanent manager is in place before the game at Swansea on the 19th October. Bally has stabilised things and the players clearly like him. Whether he can give us a long term lift is debatable. There is nobody I would like to see succeed more, but I have my doubts.

Poyet , Pulis and the former Hoffenheim coach, Ralf Rangnick look to be the front runners , but Ellis Short cannot afford another mistake like O’Neill and Di Canio. The season is retrievable and the next three games are winnable. That would put us back in the pack. We have wasted four games due to managerial histrionics and bizarre team selections – lose the next three (which is just as possible as winning them) and we are dead men walking until May and a return to Derby, Barnsley and Blackburn.

Eric Steel also said that De Gea has “calmness, composure and inner strength”. If ever those qualities were needed at The Stadium of Light, then it’s now.

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No one should dismiss the cruelty of the fixtures list; it simply defies natural justice to have a home programme that includes all the likeliest top six clubs in the first eight games at the Stadium of Light.

The real issue is that by the time the supposedly easier games come along, confidence will be as low as the most probable league position: rock bottom. It would then, indeed, be a great escape par excellence for whoever happened to be in charge.

20 thoughts on “Sixer’s Man Utd Soapbox: De Gea de difference”

  1. All we need to do is put the ball in the net, the hardest thing in football, we didn’ take our chances that was my first time at the SoL for two years met Bobby Charlton in the Riverside Restuarnt


  2. Can’t disagree with any of the above as so much of it rings true.

    Only thing I would add is that Ellis, De Fanti and the rest of the Board are in the ‘last chance saloon’. Yes Ellis may own the Club but there are quite clearly some hardline and loyal supporters becoming disillusioned with the way the Club are going. Lose the dressing room and the manager is in peril, lose the terraces and the Board are in peril.

    I wouls hate see us reduced to the Blackburn situation where I could not but empethsise with their position, however no club is safe from this possibility lets just hope we are not next.

    I, like most supporters will get behind whoever the next appointment is (political persuasions being acceptable of course…….not) but I really hope Ellis and the Board and the playing squad actually support the next manager or it the Championship for us and you couldn’t deny that we deserve it really.

  3. Joan I completely agree. In the 40 years or more of following Sunderland I have never felt so inspired at the appointment of a new manager than I have with Poyet.

    That feeling has as much to do with league position and squad than it has to do with GP, simply because I don’t see him having what it takes to turn it round. It’s some kind of “obvious choice” for want of a better description and I hope that I’m completely wrong. At the moment though I feel it would have been difficult to make a worse choice. Thankfully McLaren got a gig before we gave this one out.

  4. I saw enough in the 1st half on Saturday to give me some hope for the remainder of the season.

    We should have been at least 2 or 3 ahead at the break but we weren’t and as history shows if you don’t score when on top you will suffer the consequences.

    We had to hold out for the first 20 minutes of the second half, we didn’t sadly due to sloppy defending (again) especially for the equalizer the rest is history.

    It looks like Poyet is getting the job according to reports.I suspect that Ellis has had the FBI looking in to all things Poyet and that he has thought long and hard about the appointment.

    We need stability and someone who can deal with what looks on the surface to be a difficult squad of players. Their actions and attitude has resulted in the sacking of the last 2 managers (3 for some) and I feel it is about time they began to deliver on the pitch.

    The next 3 games will be instrumental shaping our season. All winnable and should we do so we will be fine, lose all 3 and we are doomed.

  5. Responding to your question Joan. There was a lot more endeavor in both the games but we faded poorly in the second half on Saturday.

    Someone posted earlier saying that we need someone to come in and sort them all out. I thought we had already tried that one between April and September.

    Small margins dictate outcomes such as who gets the job. Had Gardner cut the ball inside to Altidore to score or had Giacherrini’s header beaten de Gea then I’m sure everyone would have been saying that Bally’s the lad for the job.

    They didn’t go in and that’s not Bally’s fault. Its just the way it went. It’s results that count always and we are still bottom with a solitary point. The problem with immediate results is that they mask genuine deficiencies.

    We won at the landfill stadium and beat Everton. It didn’t make us a good team or Di Canio a good manager but at least it kept us up.

    I am far from convinced that Poyet will turn out to be the man to steer us to calmer waters, on the basis of a lack of experience if nothing else. The board have taken a long time to make this decision when Poyet could have been installed immediately. This looks like more indecision to me and suggests that the man they really wanted didn’t fancy it, and maybe the next bloke in line after that. I think we’re doomed, quite frankly.

    • Well, I’m saying that I’d rather have seen Bally given the job despite not getting a point on Saturday, because I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument as to what anyone else can bring, other than some vague ‘we need someone with proven Premiership experience’ and that’s not going to happen anyway. Maybe the board have some wonderful selection criteria that he doesn’t meet … and look where that got us last time. I agree that we need stability and I think we’d get that more from Kevin Ball than from anyone else we bring in. I’m not saying he’d do a fantastic job, but I’m downhearted about Poyet. I hope I’m proved wrong.

  6. Vince said “Whatever we do up fronmt and however well the midfiled does…our centre backs mess up and we concede….whoever comes in will have to sort this out….it lt’ll be a tall order as Roberge and Diakite look not much better….and as to Celustka…..Bardsley with a broken foot would be better”

    I’m pleased somebody said this Vince. I keep hearing about what a good game Roberge had. It seemed like I was the only one who thinks he’s awful.

    As for O’Shea……………Oh dear.

  7. This is a genuine question – can anyone explain specifically the qualities that the new manager, whoever he is, is meant to bring, that Kevin Ball is assumed to lack? We’ve all seen an improvement over the last 2 matches, though not translated into points. Clearly, he’s motivating them. They’re gelling more as a team. Is tactics and team selection really that difficult? How hard can it be to coach a team to defend set pieces. Surely it’s more about having a settled defence who know what each other is going to do? If you make your instructions too complicated it simply gets in the way of players doing what they ought to be able to do already – just adds a layer of hesitation and doubt. What exactly does the new man (or woman….) need to be able to do?

  8. Looking very much like Gus Poyet as the next manager. The odds have plummeted to1/12. If it is, let’s hope for better things to come.

      • Its a small pool we are fishing in and Poyet is the biggest fish, beggars can’t be choosers and this is the level we have been reduced to.

        Can’t say I am too enthusiastic and I said this just before we awarded Di Canio the post as well. Hope he proves me wrong if it is to be Poyet.

      • The very fact that Mr Di Fanti is advocating Poyet seems like a good reason not to appoint him [ if our DOF is as good at picking managers as he is at scouting players that is? ]
        I think the present football strategy is complete fantasy and will, inevitably end in tears.
        I would look for a young, ambitious British coach such as Eddie Howe [ Bournemouth ] or Sean Dyce [ Burnley ] They are both highly rated at their clubs, but surely the chance of succeeding at a huge club like Sunderland would be an attractive challenge?

  9. Another day another defeat…..yes we played well first half which means we can re-salvage the season….long way to go yet.

    I worry about the centre backs though.Someone really needs to get hold of O Shea and tell him to stop chipping aimless balls forward…PASS tne fecking ball John,…you know like tn etwo MUn Utd centre backs did ,and no doubt how you did it at Man Utd.
    …you are NOT and I repeat NOT Glen Hoddlle.

    Whatever we do up fronmt and however well the midfiled does…our centre backs mess up and we concede….whoever comes in will have to sort this out….it lt’ll be a tall order as Roberge and Diakite look not much better….and as to Celustka…..Bardsley with a broken foot would be better.

    • Bit harsh. Celutska has barely put a foot wrong, though he didn’t have his best game on Saturday. Roberge did well on Saturday too.

  10. The first half epitomised the effort and commitment that we all surely want to see from the team but the reality is that to play like that is too high energy. Of course had we gone into the break 3-0 ahead then who knows if the Lads could have hung on. But one thing that is certain is that it is more difficult for any side to get back into a winning position from 0-3 than 0-1. Credit the team for effort but I think at half time most of us were apprehensive – one goal just wasn’t enough.

    As for Bally’s substitutions – well I criticised Di Canio for putting Ji ahead of Cabral and even Vaughan – and Wickham has rarely done enough for me in a red and white shirt but I suppose it comes down to who’s fit and who fits into the scheme of things. I haven’t (and neither has anyone else) seen enough of Moberg Karlsson or El Hadji Ba to start demanding their inclusion.

    On a lighter note – Westwood and Wickham’s severe haircuts leads me to believe that they have had bit parts in “Peaky Blinders”?

  11. Untill we put a full performance in for 90+ minutes we will remain where we are. Any positives we may have achieved in a game are rendered pointless at the final whistle.I can’t take any positives from losing week in week out, other teams play as well as we do in patches for the whole game, it’s what they’re meant to do.Good report from Pete as usuall though.

  12. Spot on summation of the current situation at the Sol. I would love to think that Kevin Ball could pull it off, but I think his already close association with the Club and players would work against him getting the role.

    We need somebody to come in and really shake the playing staff out of there letheragy and defeatist tendancies, but to do it with tactical acumen and clever team selections. Some of the substitutions the other night were disappointing and underlines our poor back up choices, I would have liked to have seen Mavrais and Molberg Karlsson given more opportunity than the ever disappointing Gi and Whickham.

    Lets just hope they get the Managers appointment right, and please not Pulis and I have doubts over Poyet….as to who that leaves in the frame is anybodies guess. If ever there was a time to keep the faith its now.

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