The answer to Pete Sixsmith‘s closing question is ‘no’ or at any rate ‘not yet’. We play Southampton yet again in yet another home draw. Whether we actually deserve such relative good fortune is in doubt, as Pete’s analysis of the hard work we made of beating Kidderminster Harriers illustrates …
If you thought the Manchester United game was the height of drama, this was the complete antithesis.
If you saw Sunderland players throwing their bodies on the line and sweating blood for the club at Old Trafford, what you saw here was the complete opposite of Wednesday night’s drama and subsequent euphoria.
The definition of euphoria is, according to my trusty Chambers, “an exaggerated feeling of well-being” and that sums up how we all felt after reaching the League Cup final. A look at the highlights shows that we barely threatened De Gea’s goal all night and the one time we did, he scooped it into the net for us.
That is not to take away the amount of possession that we had and the fact that we ran ourselves silly in making sure that a far superior looking United team did not get the better of us.
It was clear that those players, those gallant lads in yellow and blue, were exhausted after a long and emotionally draining evening. So, the head coach rested 10 of them, brought in the two new signings from Argentina and threw in eight bits and pieces players, topped up with Lee Cattermole to remind Kidderminster that they were playing a Premier League side.
It didn’t work. There were some truly dreadful performances from players who will probably not be at the club this time next week and will certainly not be at the club come the new season in August, irrespective of whichever league we will be in. If Poyet ever wanted proof of the paucity of ability and commitment underneath his first 16 or 17, here it was, all laid before him.
Earlier in the day I had watched Di Canio’s piece of self-publicity on Football Focus in which he said that none of the 10 first team players brought in by the departed Di Fanti were his choice. They don’t appear to be Poyet’s choice either and I can’t think of many in the crowd who would have some of them anywhere near the first team.
The early goal gave us a tonic, well taken by Mavrias, who looked useful and as if he could be an asset in the future. He took advantage of a shocking error by the Kidderminster centre half Josh Gowling (who did well after that)and fired home to make us think that the final score could be the equivalent of an England opening stand in Australia. 4-0 perhaps?
And that was it. 75 per cent possession translated itself into a number of wayward shots, a handful of saves from Lewis in the Harriers goal and the usual collection of appalling crosses, sideways passes and vain attempts to make poor, benighted Jozy Altidore look like a footballer.
Giaccherini started brightly in his preferred central midfield position, but faded badly and looked a mere shadow of the player he was at the start of the season. He departed early and may well spend the rest of the season coming on from the bench.
El-Hadj Ba, who did really well in his cameo against Carlisle, was trusted with the other central position and was clearly told to drive on and get forward. He didn’t, giving the ball away frequently and crashing into the opposition. He’s another one who will be back to the development squad for the remainder of the season.
Poor Jozy had another wretched day up front, looking bereft of confidence and incapable of scoring. Maybe he should have gone to Fleetwood and Mikael Mandron could have filled his place. Altidore outscored Wilfried Bony last season in the Eredivisie; Bony has netted six times in his last five games for Swansea. Altidore has scored twice all season.
Roberge looked like a man who has found another club as he pulled out of at least three tackles and got really annoyed with Kiddy skipper Kyle Storer (a player with a reputation that makes Cattermole look like Little Lord Fauntleroy) when he rattled his ankle. Roberge looks a decent player but not in the huly-burly of the Premier League.
What of the rest? Cattermole was ok but gave the ball away. Larsson was another one who knows that his time on Wearside is over and failed to exert any influence on the game. Diakite looked big and strong and seems a decent man as he helped his replacement Vergini through this potential banana skin. Pity we didn’t see Watmore, who would at least have run at the defence.
As for Kidderminster, they defended well after their early aberration and presented a resolute line of defenders in two banks of four. Michael Gash missed a good chance to level when Giaccherini gave him the ball and they exerted a little bit of pressure in the final ten minutes. Perhaps a manager who knew his players better would have encouraged them to open up a bit more and have a real go at the team of strangers playing in front of them. But Andy Thorn was a defender and that is his mindset.
The antonym for euphoria is dysphoria, meaning “impatience under affliction” which describes my feelings as I sat in my seat, thumping my knees in anger as yet another misplaced pass or dreadful cross was played. My companion, eight year old Louie, stripped it down to the bare essentials; “Sunderland won’t win the FA Cup if they play like this”. How true, how true.
We await the draw with a mixture of anticipation and trepidation. What are the chances of us getting Manchester City?