Sunderland in crisis: ‘give the Gang of 14 a chance, Gus’

Jake asks again: 'so what now?'
Jake asks again: ‘so what now?’

The inquest goes on. Andy Nichol* regularly offers his wise, challenging thoughts on all matters SAFC at the Blackcats e-mail loop. Monsieur Salut invited him to share with Salut! Sunderland readers his assessment of the Swansea debacle and the appalling mess in which the club finds itself. He urges Gus Poyet to make a radical shift in team selection, starting with more use of the famous 14 summer recruits and some overdue Gardner leave for our talkative but error-prone midfielder …

Social media may be a power for good for many but when my mate received team news via Twitter on Saturday, my final pre-match pint took on a strangely bitter taste, one that had nothing to do with the brewing process.

Our midfield was to again include the three amigos – Larsson, Gardner and Cattermole – and as if that wasn’t enough of a kick in the Sauravs, Ha Ha Bardsley was back and on the elft at that. Groundhog Day, the player-power revolution now complete. Damn you Di Canio. Damn you Short, Byrne and De Fanti.

Anyway, I don’t profess to have any supernatural powers but I certainly knew what was going to happen during the next couple of hours. I may as well have caught the next train back to London and saved myself the indignity of watching “that”.

I didn’t foresee quite such a capitulation, but uninspiring football and inevitable defeat were nailed on. I wasn’t wrong: we were dreadful.

Even in the first half when largely comfortable in negating a dormant Swansea, we weren’t very good and only Giaccherini showed glimpses of the skill-set one expects from players at this level.

Yet do we actually have to be as bad as this? I don’t think so. There are better players in the squad than the plodders who laboured around the park; Gardner and Larsson are spent forces at this level. Ha Ha Bardsley and O’Shea are past it. We know it and so should Poyet if he really had been studying us as a team as he indicated prior to his appointment.

One of Gardner or Larsson in midfield (plus Cattermole) and you know you’ll eventually be overrun, never mind all three of them: no pace, no speed of thought, no willingness to move off the ball.

It’s perhaps mean-spirited to single out one player after that shambles but I don’t care. I’m finished with Gardner after this. He had far too much to say last week: all that stuff about welcoming back Ha Ha Bardsley, sticking Dossena at left back, allowing him and Colback to return to their preferred central midfield positions.

Isn’t this for the manager to decide, Craig? Anyway, you and Colback in central midfield eh? I’d stop going. And by the way, who dallied on the ball in midfield from our free kick yesterday? You know, when you gave it away and they burst forward and won the corner for the first goal – scored by your mate Ha Ha Bardsley? Then who made a pitiful attempt to close down De Guzman when he prepared to shoot their second?

And who gave away a schoolboy penalty, Craig? Again. And who was embarrassingly slow when he had the chance to put us 2-0 up against Man U the other week, Craig, just like when you bore down on goal at the Wongadome two years ago (the Sessegnon sending-off game) eh? Remember? Acres of space, runners either side, but you dithered and allowed a defender to get back and pick your pocket, eh? Too slow of feet, too slow of thought – not good enough then, not good enough now. Do your talking on the pitch next time, eh Craig?

Monsieur Salut, in his Paris days, by Matt
Monsieur Salut, in his Paris days, by Matt
See what M Salut made of it at ESPN: From Saint-Tropez to Swansea to share Poyet’s nightmare start

And catch The Chapman Report: Relegation a no-brainer for this shower

Jake adds a hero
Jake wonder whether King Charlie might have saved us from this

For me, Poyet spent his time listening to the wrong people last week – there’s a reason most of those nuggets were still at training just as there’s a reason others weren’t. Seriously, if all he can come up with to put his own stamp on the team is to reinstate Ha Ha Bardsley (and out of position at that) then we are truly done for. What Poyet should be doing is identifying the underlying reasons we’ve been so bad for years and binning the common denominators, not prolonging their careers. Brown, Gardner, Larsson, Bardsley, Vaughan and O’Shea for starters? Johnson and Cattermole to follow?

I’m baffled that so few of the Gang of 14 have been assimilated into the first team and only two seem to be regulars – Giaccherini and Roberge. Ki maybe. Diakite should be given a run of games in place of O’Shea and Cabral must come back into the side – I saw enough of him in Hong Kong and v Fulham to think he’d improve us and, maybe alongside Cattermole, provide a solid base for others to venture forward in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Mavrias and Karlsson have also shown glimpses of talent that suggest that they would offer more than the old guard who hold such sway in the dressing room but offer nothing but stodge on the pitch.

Dossena has to come in at left back instead of Bardsley (or the hapless Colback for that matter). There have been times of late when we were starting to look better; a midfield at Swansea with Larsson, Gardner and Cattermole was a big step backwards.

We may be conceding the daftest of goals but it is in midfield where we just can’t live with opponents’ pace/movement (save when employing the pressing/harrying tactics which have brought some success but leave us knackered soon after half-time). The old guard have had their day – it’s time to turn to the Gang of 14 before it’s too late and they too settle into and adopt the “Sunderland way”: easy training, easy social life, easy money.

* Read Andy Nichol’s fascinating story in our Mackem Diaspora series:

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22 thoughts on “Sunderland in crisis: ‘give the Gang of 14 a chance, Gus’”

  1. Yes Superior Mackem Barstewards we are, Geordiedoonsoothwhoprobablydoesnotgotomanygameslikemanyoftheirgobshitesupporters.
    Follow The Mackems marra! :o)

  2. We shall see what Sunday brings and I never went hiding and as for hadding me gob impossible task ask wor lass. I do like winding you SMBs up

    • Obviously not but no more or less than any other game, if we do get a roasting which is possible, I hope the duffers are on the pitch to take our appreciation and thanks and arn’t suddenly missing with the new guard in their place.Goes without saying that I hope we scud yers like last time, so we’ll see…..

    • You were looking forward to the game last time we walloped your arse and then had to had yer gob for 6 months. Same again on Sunday.

    • Nice to see you back out of your shell, unfortunately that means the slime’s back as well.

      We shall await your witty repartee after the game on Sunday, although after the last encounter I seem to remember a deafening silence from your end!

  3. Bent..£24m

    14 players in this summer but negative net spend.

    Selling the aforementioned boosts the bank balance but has gutted the overall squad as they have not been replaced by better in general terms. Now such folly is coming home to roost.

    Which brain surgeons on the Board decided to sell Sessegnon for such a paltry fee, yet kept Ji and allegedly turned down £4m from a Bundesliga club for him? People without an iota of footballing knowledge I would suggest. Lawyers and pop concert organisers amongst them.

    Just when you thought that the 19 and 15 point seasons couldn’t finish off the most loyal supporters in football, the club decide to try and go one better this campaign.

    Will any player or board member see their salaries reduced if, as looks likely, we go down? Answers on a postage stamp to Mr Short please.

    • Tom, in my opinion we are the worst managed club in the PL, and I don’t doubt that will still be the case in the Championship, when we join it next season.

      In the last few years, Short and his hapless group of directors have managed to turn SAFC into a laughing stock. I don’t know if they actually have a strategic plan for the club’s development, or whether they make it up as they go along – what I do know is that they display a total absence of managerial judgement and football knowledge.

      If they had an atom of integrity, or indeed, common sense, they would bring in a consultancy management team, whilst seeking a responsible buyer – someone with respect for the tradiitions of a great club, and for the hopes and ambitions of a proud and loyal fan base who are being humiliated by a ignorant and incompetent group of people who should never have been let near a professional football club.

    • Most of the duffers are on their last year of contracts anyway so they can go and torture some other fans in the conference. If the new guard don’t get a chance soon I can see them running for cover and begging to be loaned out or sold just to escape this lunatic asylum and who could blame them .As for wage reductions , do Bryne and De Fanti actually get paid or are they on some newly appointed ConDem government work scheme?

  4. Great story. Especially the Cabral issue. I can not understand how he is not a starter. He was excellent against fulham and part of a team that beat spurs in pre-season. He was also in a basle team that won titles and beat man utd. Alfred Ndiay is another thing. We loaned out a raw hungry player that was a driving force last season… ok une hirondelle ne fais pas la printemps. But I think he has a lot of potential.
    Chow for now.
    Thierry Monnelli

  5. I’ve just had some wonder jollop sprayed on my windscreen to fix a chip. “Guaranteed to make it stronger” said the repairman. He’s now speeding up the A1 to give our back four the same treatment.

  6. Top class Andy. A definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing but yet expect a different outcome.An excellent analysis of our current situation.Groundhog day indeed but at least the character in the film gradually realised what was happening.I have no confidence in the old guard whatsoever and will go so far as to say I dislike them as much as McMenemy’s apology for a squad.A win might give us a bit of hope .I wont hold my breath though.

  7. I would get rid of Larsson,Gardner and Bardsley in the next window. Bring back N’Diaye and sign another full back for cover,although the much maligned Colback can do a job in either position.

    Bench Johnson and give Mavrais and Moberg-Karlsson extended runs in the team, either playing or as subs.

    On Sunday I would give Altidore the first hour to soften up their defence before bringing on Fletcher to finish the job.My preferred selection would be

    Celustka, Roberge,Diakite,Colback
    Mavrias, Altidore, Giaccherini

    Subs: Mannone, Moberg Karlsson,Fletcher, Dossena,O’Shea,Borini,Johnson.

    Are you listening Gus?

  8. We don’t need the gang of 14, what we need is the magnificent 7. Don’t miss the bus get on with Gus, Gus Houdini that is. Great banner!

  9. Spot on couldn’t agree more with this and echos my sentiments on a related post. I would bring in the new guns even if it means going down, because at least it will help them gel for the Championship, which is where we are heading with the old guard anyway.

    Time for Poyet to make his mark.

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