Pete Sixsmith didn’t quite qualify for Mr Robert Halfon MP’s tribute to ‘scumbag football hooligans’, missing out on the Covent Garden riot (implies Mr H) or good-natured gathering (said the cops) and travelling down on the Durham SAFCSA branch charabanc. This is his wonderful account of a great occasion we wouldn’t let defeat spoil …
So we didn’t quite veni, vidi, vici. We came, we saw but didn’t quite conquer the giants of East Manchester. But didn’t we give them one hell of a shock!!
Obviously I don’t know what went on in City’s dressing room at half term. Pellegrini strikes me as a calm manager, not one for picking fights with linesmen, older managers or opposition players, but I bet he was worried.
I imagine he said something along the lines of “we need a quick reply. If they hold that lead for another 20 minutes, they are going to beat us. And then, I will turn Alan Pardew on you”.
For the best part of the first half, we did what we all too rarely do against the likes of Villa and Hull – we took the game to them. Just like we did at Newcastle, just like we did at Fulham, we created the tempo and it almost blew away a side who, man for man, are far, far superior to us.
We tackled, passed, blocked and read the game far better than they did. At half time, who would you want in your team – Lee Cattermole or Yaya Toure? No brainer. Cattermole was perfect, his best performance in a Sunderland shirt while Toure was well below the high standards he has set. He ended up on his backside a number of times as Cattermole, Colback, Larsson and Ki tore into him.
Up front, Aguero looked like a man coming back from injury, Dzeko like a man off back to the Bundesliga, while Borini looked like a hero. He took the goal brilliantly and it was easy to see why Liverpool will not sell him. Should Suarez ever leave or be eaten by an opponent, Borini is the perfect replacement – and a lot less high maintenance as well.
And what a goal it was. It started with a great tackle by Cattermole, was followed up by lovely little pass by Larsson (who fully justified his inclusion) and was rounded off with an absolutely brilliant ball by Johnson.
Borini still had all the hard work to do as he skipped past a labouring Kompany and an almost absent Demichelis. Then, a wonderful finish into the far corner across the keeper and we dared to dream.
The dream was still there at half time. They came at us, but there were no clear chances. Nasri looked for penalties or free kicks and constantly moaned at Martin Atkinson. Silva skipped around and did very little with the ball.
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There were a few crosses – Borini headed one over the bar – but little to trouble Mannone. It was a consummate performance and, when Borini skipped away with a couple of minutes left, it looked like we would be sucking the oranges with a two-goal lead.
This was the turning point of the game. He bore down on goal with Kompany haring after him. He took maybe a touch too many allowing the Belgian skipper to stick out a telescopic leg and win the ball.
On such individual contributions do games turn. It was a tackle that reminded me of Dave Watson all those years ago when his long legs took the ball away from Clarke and Jones and broke Leeds hearts. This one broke our hearts.
Like a huge beast being tormented by lesser mortals, City gave themselves a shake and scored two goals that were fit to win any game. Ironically, they came from players who had looked so ineffective in the first half. But Toure and Nasri are top class players they produce when they have to.
Perhaps our intensity levels had dropped. We had put so much into the game that it may have been impossible to keep it up for 90 minutes. Toure was allowed space and he produced a wonder lob which Mannone might have saved had he been the twice his normal size. Brilliant goal from a fine player.
With hindsight, we needed to settle the game down after that. But we came at them. Cattermole got into their box, the ball went to Alonso but his cross was too near the keeper. We were too far forward and a good kick, good control, a good pass and a good finish put us behind. A fine goal but maybe we could have slowed the game down.
There were chances. Fletcher’s shot was a weak one and he missed his kick at the end, spurning the kind of chance he would have taken two years ago. Injuries and a loss of confidence have reduced his potency.
The third goal was cruel and was typical of a good side beating a game one. It made it look like a comfortable victory for City but it wasn’t. They worked hard for it because we made them.
There were tears from the players at the end but not the fans. We knew that they had given everything and that we had been beaten by a side who would not have found room for any one of ours in their 17-man squad – possibly Borini for the totally ineffective Dzeko – and who have spent hundreds of millions to reach the Round of the Last 16 in the Champions League.
Pride was everywhere on Sunday. Pride in our manager, who has created a decent side out of the shambles he walked into. Pride in the players who showed that they can create a tempo and, if this can be continued, will finish in a relatively comfortable position in the league. Bradford City used their defeat last year to mount a successful promotion campaign.
But most of all pride in our club – because that is who it belongs to. It’s ours. Syd Collings, Tom Cowie, Bob Murray, Niall Quinn and Ellis Short have looked after it and have put money into it, but it is our club. It’s mine, Colin’s, Pete Horan’s, and Steven Wilson’s. It’s Jake’s and John McCormick’s and Joan and Malcolm Dawson’s and Jeremy’s. And when we are no longer here, it will belong to the little boy who sat next to me and who roared in my face after Borini scored.
A long, long day for a man of my years. The coach journey down was great and the pre-match beers with M Salut and the Two Johns was tres enjoyable. The City fans in the pub were good company; they cannot believe their luck and are making the most of it. I hope that continued success does not turn them into clones of their neighbours in Stretford.
The worst aspect of the day was getting out of Wembley. The stadium is fine, the location isn’t. Two and a quarter hours to get onto the M1 is shocking as the coach followed a serpentine route passing Tesco, Ikea and scores of small offices and workshops and frequently doubling back on itself.
The other results at the weekend were helpful and the events at Hull made us all chuckle. The general consensus was that Meyler missed a great opportunity to splatter him. He should get a great ovation on Sunday.
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6 thoughts on “Proud to be a Sunderland supporter, proud to present Sixer’s Wembley report”
Something must be done about Wembley and transport. 2 1/4 hours put the writer very much at the fast end of those on coaches.
We didn’t leave the car park until 6:35 (2 3/4 hours after end of game) and didn’t get above 5 mph until after 7. We got back to Sunderland at 1:30, which is ridiculous.
This final and our run to get there have saved the League Cup. ” Mickey Mouse tournament ” ? tell that to Sunderlands fans and the managers and players of City and of our wonderfull club . Dissapointed we didn’t win obviously ,but as defeats go this was as good as it gets. Fantastic day ( arrived on Sunday, left on Monday), great performance by team and fans and it took two wonder goals to beat us ,but never silence us! 92 teams entered , we finished 2nd , not bad and if there was a trophy awarded for moral victory’s it would be undoubtably ours. We move forward , strengthened and fortified . The team and fans united and strong more than ever, ready for that league run in. But first the FA cup………….. We want to go back!
Great weekend, almost perfect bar the result, but proud of fans and players, Gus did his utmost but we were beaten by world class goals.
Sunderland fans partied all over, some with half of the chuckle brothers, some serenaded Denise Welch and others turned Covent Garden into a er…moshpit. So many funny moments, some during the surreal experience of being in the City end, can’t wait to go back!
I said before the game that I didn’t want to us to get an early goal but keep it to 0-0 till the 80th minute and sneak one at the end. But like everyone else in red and white I was in a surreal 7th heaven when Borini scored. In the end, it took a world class tackle, and two superb goals from world class players to get past the lads. Proud of them.
Excellent article. If only we could have ‘that’ Cattermole every time he plays. He was outstanding. Colback too, that’s 2 local lads and after we were criticised in the summer for no English signings.
As you said 2 wonder strikes took the game for them, they were world class goals but for me, we looked the better team all day, and even after Gus changed to a more attacking style I still thought we were unlucky to concede a third.
I’d have loved to win this game, but as long as we stay up, I will not care about this game in the end. Staying in the Prem is all I care about.
In the ‘other’ game, I thought Brucie was spot on when he said “it was lucky it was David Meyler, as other players would have gone down and milked that situation” (Not quite 100% quote, but the Gyst of it anyway).
Sunderland AFC were magnificent in providing for the world, a Cup Final worthy of being a “Final”.
Gutted we lost, but we can say out team gave it everything, we were simply beaten by two of the best goals you will see in a final.The third was excusable as we were gamely pushing for the equaliser which is always a risk when you do that against top quality opposition.
Nuetrals far and wide are all saying it was a great cup final and has restored many’s in the reputation of the League Cup as a competition.Two sides producing a very entertaining game and two sets of supporters adding hugely to the occasion.
As one blog said “everyone was a winner.”….well maybe not quite,but we can certainly take heart from our day out in the centre of the football universe.
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