Sixer’s Soapbox: lots to enjoy – but then we had to watch the match!


Malcolm Dawson writes…with Halloween just gone it may have been assumed that the time for waking nightmares had passed, but the visit to Hull proved it hadn’t and with Guy Fawkes night fast approaching, provided Sunderland fans with a pair of dummies to throw on the metaphorical bonfire. Listening to Gary Bennett’s increasing frustration as the first half wore on and with Westwood injured, I speculated on potential changes which might turn things around in the second half and get us the vital three points. Ki, Johnson and Giaccherini were all options who might cause the Hull defence problems and with only three minutes to go until the turn round I was hopeful that the manager would come up with a plan to wipe out the deficit and push on to victory. And then I heard the big man, not once but twice almost break down in disbelief as not one, but two of our players decided to show a total lack of control with stupid (and in Dossena’s case downright dangerous) tackles that gave the ref little option but to show the red card. Sandwiched in between the manager almost got one of his own. That the nine men of the second half not only didn’t concede another goal and came close to equalising demonstrated that this had started as a game where three points was achievable. Once again Pete Sixsmith was there and once again, like many other Sunderland Supporters, he left wondering why he bothers. Thank goodness for Sam Smith’s!

As I walked into the Dog and Duck in the lovely town of Beverley, one of the locals, with a distinctly antipodean accent, asked me what I thought the score would be. The Sage of Shildon replied “2-2 as we are in the middle of a good run”, a comment which provoked a hearty chuckle from Messrs Burnip and Scott, stalwart fans of my vintage, who were sat at the other end of the bar. Irony being lost on the Humberside Aussie – a Chelsea fan, so his afternoon would have been more miserable than mine – he went on to tell me and the rest of the pub that he thought that Hull would win “because they have some good players”. He was right on one count.

Indeed, the highlight of the day was the 150 minutes spent in Beverley, a gem of a town, which I have praised to the skies in the past. The White Horse was as it has been since the 1920s – stone flagged floors, gas lamps, copious rooms and Sam Smiths Old Brewery Bitter at a staggering £1.80 a pint.

The day had started well and had included a tour of the flat lands of the Humber estuary as the coach driver attempted to cover all the B and C roads that criss-crossed the flatlands between Goole and Market Weighton. A couple of pints in East Yorkshire’s county town and then on the road, passing the splendid “Bridge to Nowhere”, catching a glimpse of the redundant floodlights at The Boulevard, former home of Hull FC and then along the once proud but now run down Hessle Road, home to generations of Hull trawlermen and the fearsome Big Lil Bilocca and on to the shiny newish KC Stadium, complete with white telephone box.

Team selection was bold. Three forwards, with Johnson on the bench in favour of Borini. A strong bench with Wes Brown ready to make a comeback and Cabral back in the fold. It looked promising especially when the Tigers lined up with a tight 4-5-1 formation. It was there to be won. It wasn’t. The first 35 minutes were dreadful as we gave the ball away, failed to put together anything resembling a decent move and contrived to conjure up a goal for Hull out of nothing. A poor header by O’Shea from a Livermore free kick (given for a foul by Cattermole – who else?) could have been cleared twice but wasn’t. The ball came in and Cuellar beat Sagbo to it, diverting it past Westwood and into the net. It was the kind of goal that wins a game as poor as this one.

As the game trundled on and Hull weaved pretty patterns without actually doing anything, thoughts turned towards the second half and the possible changes that could be made. Ki for Cattermole perhaps, as the Teessider was not having a great time against opponents who passed the ball round him. Maybe the pace of Giaccherini to replace the lumbering Altidore, who may score before the end of the season but probably won’t.
Then, it all went wrong.

Cattermole, who had cut an increasingly frustrating figure, lunged at Elmohamady, right in front of Andre Marriner. He knew straight away that a red was going to be produced and walked before it was out of his pocket – probably the only decision that Cattermole got right in the game. Thus he collected his sixth red card as a Sunderland player and lost any respect he might have had from the fans after his sterling performance last weekend.

Lee Cattermole - at least he's consistent!
Lee Cattermole – at least he’s consistent!

Minutes before his latest act of lunacy, Keiren Westwood had left the field as a result of a clumsy challenge by Paul McShane to be replaced by Vito Mannone. So, down to 10 men and a new keeper in situ, there was a need to play out the remaining three minutes and then regroup.

And then, just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did as Dossena hurtled into Meyler, both feet off the ground and studs up. Off he went, completely ruining Poyet’s plans for his half-time talk. What makes professionals do things like this? Both had had poor first halves and both were probably frustrated by Hull, but to jump in as they did is unforgiveable. That Cattermole fouled Elmohamady shows you what kind of person he is. Would he do that to Gerard, Barry or Osman? Absolutely not – they are tougher and harder than he is. Like the bully he is, he picks on someone he knows is not as “hard” as himself.

As for Dossena, he has a poor disciplinary record in Italy and his dreadful challenge on David Meyler suggests that, like Cattermole, he does not learn. Do we need players like this? I would emphatically suggest that we do not.

The second half was a gutsy performance and saw Wes Brown return to the first team and Mannone make some flying saves. Colback did well, probably because he did not have Cattermole running into him every two minutes and the others got their heads down and played for the shirt – 45 minutes too late!! We even created a good chance with Adam Johnson, a half time replacement for Altidore, foiled by a good save from Harper. Other than that, we defended gamely, tackled properly and resisted the temptation to go down to six on field players thus causing the game to be abandoned.
Another winnable game lost. Three more points thrown away to a team who will, in all probability, be looking over their shoulders come the closing weeks of the season. For all their clever passing, they failed to open us up and the goal was totally avoidable.

In successive weeks, Poyet has seen this group of players at their best and their worst. Both sendings off are indefensible and both players should be told very firmly that they are playing for their futures. In a perfect world where things are well ordered, neither would pull on a shirt again, but sometimes needs must. However, any extended contracts for both of them are out of the question and if we go down by one or three points, they should be defenestrated.

The day epitomised life as a Sunderland supporter; optimism on the way there and in The Dog and Duck; pessimism on the way back. Another good run comes to a premature end!!!!!

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18 thoughts on “Sixer’s Soapbox: lots to enjoy – but then we had to watch the match!”

  1. The problem with Cattermole is that he has created the situation where he becomes “victimised” by referees. That’s Poyet’s decription and not mine. It might have been harsh. I haven’t seen it but his lunges and ludicrous antics which are now his trademark mean that referees, quite understandably will not give him the benefit of any doubt, because invariably there is no doubt at all to ponder.

    Clatter ’em all only has himself to blame as he is an accident waiting to happen, a cast iron liability even when his actions don’t necessarily deserve a red card. That’s what makes him such a catastrophe.

  2. Davey, its not just down to the actual acts, which were bad enough, but in so doing they condemned us to defeat in a game that realistically we should have been looking to win.

    This kind of stupidity is not what we need and should be heavily punished. Cattermole and Dossena against the Mags were fair but hard and showed what they can achieve, but these kind of rash challenges are just the highest kind of stupidity you can display as a professional, out of the blue and dangerous.

    One good performance and then sendings off is not good for team performances or continuity in trying get the side to gel. I’m not saying either that neither should play again, but how do you trust them not to balls it up for the rest of the team. Its not as if this is Catts first time!

    We are in enough problems without these two adding a new one.

  3. Why should our player not play again for a tackle like that – OK it was bad – fairly cynical – but he didnt put any weight into it – or he could have broken Meyler’s leg Dont get me wrong im not condoning it – he got sent off he’ll get punished – but we need a left fullback
    The tackle was not as bad as Goufrans on Johnson in last year’s derby
    As for Cattermole – i’m in the minority – I thought it was a booking – I saw worse tackles from Hull and also Tiote on Saturday
    But as I have previously written – I’d drop O’Shea (then he goes and has a blinder against the mags ) and also Cuellar and bring in the younger lads Ba , Mavrias etc

    Please start slating me off now !!!!!!!

    • I won’t slag you off for having an opinion Davey. Also as Pete says needs must so it is likely that both will don the red and white shirt again but consider the following.

      1. Cattermole has a history of making needlessly reckless challenges in areas where they are not necessary.
      2. It was just before half time and Elmo wasn’t threatening at that point of play.
      3. Cattermole knows he has a reputation and even if we have seen worse tackles from other players the reality is he is walking a tightrope when he has both feet off the ground if that makes sense.
      4. He knows that the team needs all the strength in depth it can muster and getting himself another ban doesn’t help.
      5. Dossena had just seen the team reduced to 10 men. His tackle was worse than Cattermole’s and again in an area of the pitch where there was little threat from the opposition.
      6. See point 4 but multiply the stupidity factor by ten.
      7. Yes we need a left back but one who will play a full game every time he’s on the pitch and one who will not miss every fourth match because of suspension.

      • And as it happens they are both going to miss three matches. Highly irresponsible behaviour on the pitch means the manager is two players short for the next few weeks. If their replacements – from Ki, Colback, Celutska and Gardner do OK then Poyet will have to balance risk and reward when Cattermole and Dossena’s bans are over.

  4. I wonder whether this result will be instrumental in our destiny for this season.

    We played against a team that realistically we would expect to be around the bottom 6 at the end of the season on the back of a much improved performance in beating our rivals. This was a real opportunity for the players to step up and show we are serious about getting the club out of the mess we are in, much of it their making I hasten to add.

    Sadly like most of what this set of players attempt to do the whole day ended in miserable failure. The red cards were deserved and in both cases avoidable however the antics of both players ensured we would lose the game and fall 10 points behind Hull.

    As for Cattermole he has had his last chance in my opinion. I would have dumped him some time ago but he continues to get opportunities and continues to let us down. I would not lose a wink of sleep if Dossena were not to play for the club again. That ‘tackle’ was utterly shocking.

    I had hope after last week, after this result that hope has all but been extinguished.

  5. Vince – I agree about Cattermole and Dossena. However I suspect that in three games time, they will be back, and some of the more deluded will be still be hailing Cattermole as our potential saviour. It simply defies logic that O’Neill extended his contract last season, presumably with an increased salary?

    • Imagine if when a manager was sacked,every player he signed or who’s contract he extended was sacked with him. Think they might put that little bit extra thought and effort into what they do?

  6. This game reminded me of the Villa game last season.After beating the Mags we had Sess sent off and crashed 6-1.

    This team is schizophrenic,they do not need a manager they need a psychotherapist.There is something wrong with the mental state of the team,We were warned about Dossena and Catts has a long list of previous.I hope he never plays again,Ive lost patience with him now,that was IT>

    Hopefully Poyet learns fast( I am sure he has)and sees fit not to err in playing either again.Shame because we really need a left back and battling midfielder but they are not worth the risk anymore,we can scarce afford to throw potential points like this away in our position

  7. A great, entertaining, yet objective read PS, many thanks.

    My main reason for commenting, though, is because M Salut’s blog, on ESPN now, seemingly, demands a Facebook account to comment upon it and I have no intention of going down that route!

    The link is:

    My reply would have been as follows:

    I can, fully, understand why Poyet would make that statement, especially when one considers the shambles he inherited.

    It may appear to be a contradiction to take pride in the discipline that SAFC displayed in the second half, given what had preceded it, but I don’t think so!

  8. Defenestrated? What a waste of a good window.

    Oh! you open it first

    Can I volunteer as a chucker.?

    Now what’s the tallest building in Sunderland?

    • We get it Alan, but cheers anyway . Most S, land fans I know myself included are pleased that Hull are back in the prem, Bruce or not.Would be nice to be playing the same fixture next season , still in the prem.

  9. Hull City AFC in peace: That’s a good article that says it as it was. Their frustration was built by our period of ‘Ole’ passing and, to be honest, so was mine. First half we edged in 45 minutes of dreary football, the sending offs simply put a cap on it. The second 45 minutes were typical of games with unequal numbers, but you battled and some players showed you they care. The only plus for you was that you could bring Vito Mannone on, who is a very good goalkeeper, he will distribute quicker, more accurately and with more intelligence than Westwood; he can stop them too. The only positive I came away with was three points, but that eliminates do nicely. I hope Poyet can get it to where you can enjoy the football again, after all, that’s what it’s all about.

  10. “A poor header by O’Shea” is becoming a common phrase in your match reports. Time for a rest (O’Shea, not you).

  11. Well done for conjuring a coherent report Pete because sometimes words just fail me . The fact that Hull didnt run riot in the second half and the fact that we actually improved with nine men just makes you think that this was three points thrown away. Wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last time .

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