Oatway’s Observations: Sunderland 1 Stoke 0 – a massive result

Jake captures the Bard, with thanks to Owen Lennox
Jake captures the Bard, with thanks to Owen Lennox
Despite his snood, Damart thermals, three pairs of socks, gloves, balaclava and hooded top to brave the Arctic chills, Gus Poyet was too ill to do anything but rush home to a warm duvet and a Lemsip after this important victory. So it was left to his assistant Charlie Oatway to rush down to the SAFC laptop and e-mail M Salut (and a few thousand others) with the immediate post match response.

Dear Colin,

It’s a tough league and playing Stoke, it’s not an easy game no matter whether it’s home or away. They’re always going to make it very difficult for you and everyone knows that, everyone in the league knows that. We started off fantastically and they gradually got into the game a little bit more.

There was a lot of pressure on the boys and we managed to get the result.

Jake: 'never mind the nerves - a home win at last'
Jake: ‘never mind the nerves – a home win at last’

We constantly talk about the strikers following up and doing the basics of scoring goals and thankfully Johnno [Adam Johnson] managed to do that tonight and he’s carried on the little roll that he’s been on at the moment. It was good that he’s done something so black and white in the game like following up a shot and he managed to get us the points.

You’re playing Stoke and you know at points in the game you’re going to have to be brave and the boys did that in abundance. Of course, we’ll go through it tomorrow and there are little bits that we’re not happy with but overall I think the boys stood up and were counted and they defended well enough to make sure we got the points.

It’s a massive three points because of the fact that we’ve lifted out of the bottom three, so mentally for the boys that is fantastic. The other side of it is that we’re in the Premier League and we’ve got a tough run of games so it’s nice to get points on the board and it’s nice to keep that group of teams in and around us.

After the first seven, eight or nine games there was a bigger gap and now we’re clawing back a good nine or ten teams; they’re all looking over their shoulders. It’s nice to be in the pack instead of holding the pack up.

All the best,

Charlie Oatway

8 thoughts on “Oatway’s Observations: Sunderland 1 Stoke 0 – a massive result”

  1. Some very good posts here. Given that most of our players are internationals, it is puzzling to understand why we are so mentally fragile. I can only conjecture that they have become conditioned to losing, and thus have almost forgotten how to win?
    We were very lucky. The sending off was a joke. Altidore should be ashamed of himself.
    Mannone once again, was MOTM. He looks like the bargin of the season.
    I agree with the observation about our midfield. Hopefully the lad from Brighton can make a difference?

  2. Three points in the bank, but hardly deserved.

    We still exhibit all the signs of a team lacking self-belief. Up 1-0, with a man advantage, most teams would have gone in for the kill. But not us. At home, with the lead and a an extra man? That puts a lot of fan expectations on our lads, and therefore a lot of pressure. And boy, did we look tight! If only we were down 2-0, then we could play fast and loose.

    How Gus deals with this mental fragility, I don’t know. The team is slowly but surely improving, but performances like yesterday, illustrate this is still an uphill battle. Poyet can change personnel, but far more importantly, how can he change this losing attitude? That’s the conundrum. Still it’s nice to see us out of the bottom 3. That’s progress.

    • There have been games this season when we deserved to win but didn’t, so maybe things are starting to even up. We’re not going to turn into Barcelona overnight, and we need to be patient and give Gus time. The team played his way successfully for 20+ minutes and it looked as if we were on for a comfortable win before Stoke got on top (I called it a half of two quarters). Then our players tried to continue playing his way, but lost it and nothing worked.

      With so many teams doing everything they can to stay in the Premier League, there’s a finer and finer line between winning and losing. At least last night we won, and I’ve been able to look at the league table table for the first time this season. That has to be good.

  3. That was what you might call “spin”.I watched a team that played well for 20 mins, scored a goal then went into collective melt down and retreated to its own third.

    The sending of seemed a tad harsh as Altidore flung himself to the floor at the slightest touch,……something he excels at.Though he is by no means the only one in our team.

    Passing was atrocious,even the reliable Ki went and had a off night.Only man worth his crust was Mannone who was brilliant,thank God.

    So we scraped an invaluable 3 points,but the performance was very worrying to say the least.We do still look a fragile team.But hey Gus, you are doing a wonderful job with the hand you have been dealt.

    • Spot on Vince and a hate to have to say it but we missed Cattermole last night sitting in front of the back four.

      Service to Altidore was poor, but what chances he had he didn’t take. Borini and Larsson made some poor decisions when in possession in good areas. Johnston sparkled for 25 mins but then disappeared.

      After they were reduced to ten we didn’t take advantage. there was a time when winning when you were playing badly was the sign of a good team, but with Sunderland you just wonder how close is complete capitulation and implosion during some games.

      Our self belief on the evidence of this performance is very brittle, how much of it is pressure related is difficult to gauge, lets just hope last night was just due to pressure of needing a win and being at home….but we started so brightly so when did the pressure mount, we scored it should have been a boost, they were reduced to ten men, again it should have been a boost.

      Personally I blame the midfield for a lot of our woes, lack of creativity, inability to take a man on and beat him. Lets hope that the January additions bring the required quality that we so desperately need.

      • Yes we are pedestrian coming forward,,,too timid in my view.I know Gus wants them to keep possession but we invariably go sideways and backwards from midfield.

        Stoke showed how to press with purpose whilst keeping possession,even with 10 men they did a great job pinning us back

  4. Speaking of bravery I would like to see Altidore get in where it hurts a lot more (in fact I would have liked to see this since August but still waiting). There was a cross which that Alonso put across the 6 yard box in the opening minutes just perfect for a centre forward to throw himself at to nick a goal. Where was Dumbledore? Edge of the penalty area.

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