Sixer’s Hull Soapbox: a shambles ahead of Palace, the season’s defining game

Jake: 'after the Lord Mayor's show ....'
Jake: ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show ….’

Pete Sixsmith felt cheated. Not because he believes Gus Poyet or the team deliberately lost, but because he was obliged to sit through a dreadful display against moderate opponents that exposed glaring weaknesses in the squad. We must all hope to find him in better spirits at tea-time six days from now …

To borrow a phrase from Oscar Wilde (a bit of a Chelsea fan, I believe but not awfully keen on Reading), ”to lose once to Hull City is a misfortune, to lose twice looks like carelessness and to play like a third rate pub team in an FA Cup quarter final and lose to the sods a third time looks like a first rate disaster”.

The results have deteriorated the more men we keep on the field.

When we had nine we lost 1-0, when we had ten we lost 2-0 and now, with a full complement of 11 (although the contribution from Giaccherini and Dossena was so poor that we would have been better off with nine), we lost 3-0.

Things are clearly NOT getting better.

Jake: 'Q: did we create a single clear-cut chance?' M Salut: 'A: just the one Scocco blazed over in the first half.'
Jake: ‘Q: did we create a single clear-cut chance?’
M Salut: ‘A: just the one Scocco blazed over in the first half.’

The head coach took a real gamble on this game and clearly wanted to see if the fringe players were up for it for the last dozen games that will decide which league we will be in next season.

Will we be rubbing shoulders with Liverpool or Leeds? Will it be Middlesbrough or Manchester, Southampton or Sheffield Wednesday? On the basis of what we saw here, if the best XI ie the one that started in the North London trading estate last week is not available, then we will be spending a lot of time in West and South Yorkshire in 2014/15.

Last week the players were heroes as they rose above the mediocrity of their league position and gave Manchester City a really good game, thrilling those watching on TV. This week, both sides reminded those suffering ITV’s abysmal football coverage, that the Premier League is pretty damn average away from the upper echelons.

It doesn’t help that our head coach made it perfectly clear that what matters now is survival in the World’s Best League. With a string of crucial home games coming up, I suspect that Poyet looked upon the prospect of a replay with as much enthusiasm as Piers Morgan looks forward to reading Private Eye. Should we win it and make it to a semi-final at Wembley, Home of Football, Ikea, Tesco and Bob’s Drain Repairs, that would be another game to squeeze into an already tight schedule.

This game showed that whereas we may have 14 or 15 decent players, we do not have the two players for each position that successful clubs (and for us that means staying in this league) need to have. We are lacking in defensive cover, any form of creativity in midfield and any prospect of a forward scoring, if this absolutely shambolic performance is anything to go by.

All three goals were handed to Hull on a plate. Had Reginald Jeeves turned up with a silver platter with a ball and a whisky and soda sitting on it, he could not have been more accommodating than Lee Cattermole was in allowing Meyler and Fryatt to wrap the game up.

For Meyler’s goal, he failed to make a tackle, probably because he knew that the slightest error of judgement would see the Irishman go down and the feeble Mr Pawson reach for a second yellow and send him off.

Fryatt then took advantage of another “Villa” moment as Cattermole knocked the ball back without looking.
Unfortunate or unforgiveable? You decide. Actually, he had had a decent game up until then, replicating his combative performance at the Home of Football and Singh Brothers Cash and Carry.

Hull had spent much of the game winding him up in the hope that he would explode and leave the pitch earlier and there were some crude challenges on him. Had he perpetrated the tackle on Huddlestone that Huddlestone perpetrated on him, it would have been a red. Huddlestone got a yellow. But they got to him. His composure went and it reinforced my view that he cannot play a full 90 minutes. He tires mentally and that is when the passes go astray and the tackles are missed.

I am sure that Tony Pulis will have Palace players doing the same next week, hoping for a similar reaction from Cattermole.

But it was the first goal that really worried me. O’Shea gave away a needless free kick in the corner and then compounded his error by failing to out jump Curtis Davies, allowing him to head a good goal that won the game for them.

How many times this season have we failed to defend a free kick or corner and allow opponents a free shot or header which far too frequently, leads to a goal? Any future opponents will have seen this and will be queuing up to fall down around the penalty box. Free kicks are as good as penalties against us at the moment.

Many were convinced that he picked the wrong team. I would say that he picked the right team for this game. How else are we to find out if players are up for the gigantic scrap that is coming up if they are not given opportunities?

So, what did we learn from this?

* Ustari looks a decent goalkeeper, apart from his kicking which was reminiscent of the late Tim Carter’s. The penalty save was a good one and he handled the ball well enough in the box. We have problems in the heart of the back four.

* This should be O’Shea’s last season at this level and, without Brown, he struggles.

* Dossena was hopeless. Bardsley at left back is a better option if Alonso is absent.

* There was nothing in midfield to worry a mediocre Hull team. Without Johnson and Ki we do not create. Colback was the pick of the bunch.

* I have more chance of going to Brazil than Giaccherini who was almost as bad as Dossena.

* We have real problems up front. Was Fletcher fit? I hope not, because if he was, that was a truly awful performance. He did not look happy and made little attempt to link up with Scocco. The Argentinian also looked well off the pace and could be another of those wonderful January signings, following in the footsteps of Rada Prica, Danny Graham and Darren Byfield (although he did actually score a couple of goals).

* Where was Altidore? We were led to believe that he would play. Is he not mentally ready after last week’s disappointment?

Jake: 'sort it out for this one, Gus'
Jake: ‘sort it out for this one, Gus’

The cups are gone now and we have 12 games to save the season and maybe the club. Palace is a huge game. Win it and things look brighter. Lose it and we are favourites to join Fulham as almost certs to go down.

The coach has to prepare his team well for what will be the defining game of the season. Tempo is all important as there was no tempo whatsoever here. Once again, we allowed a team as mediocre as we are to seize the initiative. Can’t happen next week, Gus.

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17 thoughts on “Sixer’s Hull Soapbox: a shambles ahead of Palace, the season’s defining game”

  1. You lot have to get rid of Clattermole he’s a liability, not even a decent player. Great Sunday the weather was lovely nice couple of beers England won the rugby and you lot got humiliated by Cabbage Patch’s team

  2. If we bring in about 14 players in the summer we should be ok. That would probably work, wouldn’t it ?

  3. I’m stuggling to remember the last time I was so angry with a Sunderland performance. (A feeling that was only enhanced by the subsequent draw + Man City result – the cup was there for the taking). Barring one move which ended in Scocco putting the ball noehere near the goal, I can’t remember a single chance of note. In all three games this season, how many opportunities have we managed to make? That to me, against Hull, mighty Hull, is criminal.

    Do the players look at the opposition and think “well, this is easy, we’ve won this without even trying?” Because that’s what it looks like. Whenever it comes to a game against sides at our level, we fold so meekly it defies belief. And we’re developing a nasty habit not of being beaten by these teams, but handing them the game on a silver platter – that’s 3 times against Hull, plus Villa, and I’m sure there are others.

    Fletcher looks totally disinterested, a pale shadow of the player we had last season. I heard Altidore had an injury, and I realise he’s hardly been pulling up trees, but at least he puts the effort in. Giaccherini seems to have suffered the same fate of many a previous Sunderland player – he’s had the life sucked out of him – doubtless we’ll sell him for a fraction of the price paid and he’ll go on to be one of Europe’s finest.

    On the plus side, results have been kind to us in the last couple of weeks, so our survival is in our hands. A win against Palace is essential. Like most, I hope we tear into them from the start and get at least a couple of goals up in the first half. Otherwise, I fear nerves will kick in again, and we’ll be in for another painful afternoon.

    And as an aside, if ever TV pairs Clark Carlisle and Michael Owen in the commentary box, I fear that time itself will be torn apart.

    • Chris

      I share your anger. It truly was an abysmal performance. Quite honestly we were better with nine men earlier in the season, than with eleven yesterday.
      I think Poyet has to accept most of the responsibility for his crass team selection, and his failure to change the team at half time.
      We will surely never have a better chance of an FA Cup Final appearance than this. Hull are a very moderate team, but were made to look like world beaters. They cut through our midfield like a knife through butter.
      IMO Poyet needs to seriously review his policy of trying to play out from the back. Our players lack the technical skill to do this safely, and constantly create problems for themselves by over playing.
      Above all, we need to get our best players on the field for every game, and that includes Ki, Alonso, Brown, Johnson and Borini.

      • As a Hull fan I agree that we are not the best team in the land and quite rightly as Sunderland fans you see yourselves as a “bigger club”. However what we do have is a team that is 100per cent together, with a manager who does not “tinker” but picks his best available team!
        How do you define moderate and if we are moderate where does that leave Sunderland? I am pretty happy with our moderate mid table position and a place in the FA Cup semi final against a league 1 team with a victory pretty much guaranteeing European football!

      • You’ll find no false praise for Sunderland here. We know our limitations, write about them week after week – with a few glorious exceptions in the calendar of disappointment – and allow hope to intrude only fleetingly. But by general consent, the first half was abysmal (both sides) and the goals all came from defensive blunders. If you were moderate, as I believe to have been the case, we were atrocious and not for the first time this season and in many seasons past (including the Bruce era)

      • He ( Bruce) didnt do that with us though and also couldn’t hold on to any decent striker . When he was sacked it was our fault apparently and he hasn’t being shy in telling all of he’s mates in the media that he was bullied our of the club for bring a Geordie , utter crap! I quite liked Bruce untill after he left us and tried to ruin our reputation as fans . He’s great when everything’s going well, when it turns though , get ready ………

      • @ Neil

        I don’t think we are in disagreement. I said we were awful, and acknowledged that Hull were miles better.
        I also specifically said that Poyet was wrong to ” tinker ” with our team.

        With regard to Hull’s status, I do think you are a moderate side in terms of Premier League standard [ I wish i could say that about SAFC! ]
        However you are still in the relegation zone [ for instance, if Sunderland won their two games in hand, we would be level – and Sunderland are dire ] and conceivably could be relegated if a few results went against you.
        I’d say that is pretty moderate?

      • We certainly don’t see ourselves as being out of relegation trouble and our expectations are lower than yours. We are at the top of the 2nd division in the Premier League and we are happy with that. We will stay up, We have some quality and Long and Jelavic will get get enough between them to keep us up. I do genuinely hope Sunderland stay up though. Great stadium and fans and as close as we have to a “derby”. Good luck”!

    • I know one shouldn’t put too much stock in one game, but I feel the upcoming Palace game may be the definining moment of our entire season: if we grab them by the scruff of the neck and soundly defeat them, we should be on the road to safety. However, and this seems the more likely, if we’re tentative or,what’s worse, listless, then we can kiss the premiership goodbye. Doubtless, from here on in, Poyet will play his best eleven, and after the Hull debacle, it’s obvious who should be benched, many of them permanently.

      Fletcher and Giaccherini look to me as if they’re just putting in time, with their eyes on ‘greener pastures’ for next season. Easy to see why G was a great late ‘super-sub’ in Italy: 15 minutes of jet afterburn before reverting to 75 minutes of Sopwith Camel. Fletcher appears to not give a crap about the team. And Altidore, what can I say? Lots of huff and puff but little to show for it in the end.

      It’s depressing to say this, but I believe a good percentage of the team wants away at the end of the season. They only seem to play their hearts out in showcase games against the premiership elites. Hell, it appears they’re auditioning for a move away from Sunderland, a la “Look what I can do on this rubbish side. Imagine how I could play for you!” Then against the weak sisters they just mail it in. And after all that insincere gibberish about how ‘pleased’ they are to come to Sunderland, and ‘so proud’ to play for a ‘big side’. Nothing but bovine excrement.

      Whatever happens from here on in, Short and Poyet need to take a big broom to the team at the end of the season. Major surgery is needed to rid Sunderland of this cancerous loser mentality.

      I’m sorry if this reads like a rant, but I am sick to death of endless relegation struggles, players who can’t or won’t put in a day’s effort. Whether it’s Bruce or O’Neil or Di Canio or Poyet in charge, this side refuses to give a consistent effort. It’s always the same story: a brief honeymoon spell followed by, you know it, lacklustre and disastrous play. There’s a stench about the place that needs to be dealt with, and soon. God, how I’m tired of it!

  4. I disagree that Gus was right to pick that team. I am one who firmly believes that Premier survival is more important than brief cup success; but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take a qtr-final seriously.

    More importantly, we’re now on a 3 game losing streak with 10 goals conceded in the process and confidence low. How is that good preparation for Palace next week?

    He could have made a couple of changes, but not a wholesale shake-up of the team. We had no injuries and a week before the next game.

    A midfield of Cattermole, Larsson and Colback (the slowest, most defensive threesome at the club) is never going to create anything – so creativity needs to come from somewhere else. Giaccherini has produced it before, but looks like his will to live has gone. Maybe seeing Larsson regularly picked before him would do that.

    Scocco (Poyet’s buy) looks like he’s on another planet – one where they play a different game. He couldn’t have looked more casual and disinterested if he’d been asked to play for Sunderland Ladies. How is it that we always buy the ones who need 2 months to acclimatise? I can understand being surprised by the pace of the English game – but surely your touch on the ball doesn’t require a month in quarantine? I hope this is not another Milton Nunez case.

    The first goal was yet another case of a corner/free-kick “defended” with nobody on either post. How many times does this need to be punished before we realise that some laws of football never change? You can have your zonal marking if you want, but it’s a simple physical law that balls knocked goalwards from a corner can not possibly all be reached by the keeper. The goal is 8 yards wide and he can’t cover both corners of it.

    The other two goals were Cattermole’s fault, but it almost doesn’t matter, because we never looked like scoring all day.

    • In the 60 or so years since my birth Sunderland have been relegated God knows how many times but we have only made it to four cup finals, and won just one.

      We might get relegated this season. History says we will get relegated some time, and that we will bounce back.

      But history also says we might not get back to Wembley in the remainder of my lifetime, or win a cup while my kids are alive.

      Not going for it yesterday was a mistake. Win the cup when you have a chance, then worry about the rest.

      • Yes , spot on, sometimes I feel we who actually want our club to compete for trophy’s and possibly win something ,are fans of a different game to the one where every media outlet brainwashes us into believing that existing in the premier league is a success, its not! Unfortunately due to the financial state of the club it’s a necessity it seems. Pete’s comment that these last twelve games might not just sort out what division we play in but also the future of the club sent a shiver down my spine. Are the books that bad?

  5. I don’t think Poyet fancied this game at all.A weakened team was left to drown in its own juices.

    Would agree with all of that analysis though.Hull aren’t that bad of a side,better than what Bruce left us with that is for sure.But to get beat by a team with El Mohammady in it 3 times does leave a bad taste in the mouth.

    Poyet will have to work with what he has and he did rest a few key players which was the right decision,though by the looks on some of the Sunderland fans there yesterday I think I might get an argument.

    Still the boss has done a good job to get us where we are with what we got….and also have a good stab at a cup in a final.If we do go down its not been for the want of the manager trying.

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