Sixer’s Soapbox: No show at Norwich


Sixer: it's a long road home
Sixer: it’s a long road home

It’s a long time since I’ve been to Norwich and I keep thinking I must fit in a game there. I’m glad I didn’t do it this season, however, although if Pete Sixsmith is correct it may be a while before I’ll feel the need to get that train again. Here’s his account of another depressing day:

It’s a game I look for on the fixture list. It’s a different journey along the A17 and A47 and there are towns to see from a distance, mostly pleasant ones like Newark and Sleaford and Kings Lynn. Norwich itself is a gem, lots of nooks and crannies, a church for every week of the year and some great pubs. Carrow Road is a tidy stadium, bedecked in green and yellow and the Canaries fans are friendly and never seem threatening. What’s not to like about a day in Norwich?

I won’t be making the journey next season, of that I am sure.

It could be because I am finding it harder to justify coughing in excess of £70 up for a football match and spending the best part of 12 hours on a coach. It could be because I find long days like these very tiring and that it takes me the whole of the next day to recover.

Or it could be that, based on this pathetic performance, we have as much chance of staying in the Premier League as Vladimir Putin has of being asked to be Chair of the “I Love Ukraine” Society.

This was a performance as limp and as flaccid as anything produced by the teams turned out by the reviled Steve Bruce and the pitied Martin O’Neill. Come to think of it, both managers were, in my eyes, found out at Carrow Road, where we have now been well beaten for the last three seasons. Gus Poyet now joins those two as yet another Sunderland manager who seems incapable of stopping the inexorable slide into the Championship.

After last week’s awful performance against Palace, all the noises coming from Poyet were of how playing away might help us in that we can utilise the space that an attacking home team might leave. And I fell for it. I believed it. I travelled in hope that tactically we could out think Chris Hughton and that the players we had were better than the ones that Norwich had. Frustrate them from the start and the crowd, not great fans of Hughton and his style of play, might get tetchy and start grumbling and eventually turn on their manager.

Jake: the gloom just got gloomier
Jake: the gloom just got gloomier

Ha! They seized the initiative from the kick off, their midfield four totally dominating the five that we started with. With Colback and Ki virtually onlookers, pressure was put on the creaking partnership of Brown and O’Shea and creak they duly did.

Norwich could have been ahead before Brown made a hash of a clearance and Snodgrass poked in after twenty and then, after four failed attempts to clear the ball, Tettey hit a wonderful strike to win the game for the Canaries. The game was over. Our midfield (with Ki and Colback replaced by Cattermole and Larsson) continued to be ineffective and we were woeful up front, with Altidore comfortably winning his battle with van Wolfswinkel to decide who is the most ineffective striker in the Premier League. That v.W missed an absolute sitter shows exactly how poor Jozy was.

The second half passed by slowly. Ruddy made one good save, but we were out of puff by 75 minutes and City came back strongly to dominate the final quarter. Alonso got himself into a running spat with Snodgrass and was eventually sent off. Snodgrass’s experience in the Scottish leagues with Livingstone and Leeds served him in good stead here. Not that I saw it – I was walking back to the coach having decided that 88 minutes of this rubbish was 88 minutes too much.

Three lads in front of me left at half time, including one who had clearly made a healthy contribution to Wetherspoons profits. His early enthusiasm soon turned into a diatribe against the team and Altidore in particular, before he resorted to using the word “Please” to encourage our team, as in “Ha’way Sunderland, please do something, please, please, please.” It didn’t work. Neither did the team.

Where do we go now? This was the one away fixture that I thought we had a chance in. The remaining trips are to places where we would expect to be soundly beaten, starting at Anfield on Wednesday night.

I tawt I saw a puddy cat - I did I saw a puddy cat!
I tawt I saw a puddy cat – I did I saw a puddy cat!

What kind of team can we pick for the rest of the campaign? Opposing managers will look at a creaking defence, a midfield that creates nothing and strikers who don’t score and know that their team can take at least a point off us. It is looking like yet another relegation and with that yet another clean out and start again, perhaps beginning with the owner who must be heartily sick of pouring money into a club that seems to be perpetual strugglers.

On Wednesday, we have to start without Borini and Alonso, who have been two of our better players this season. We will have to continue with the completely ineffective Altidore up front, a player who now has absolutely no confidence or self believe. I noticed that Mikael Mandron was back from Fleetwood. Surely he can offer more than the hapless American?

The journey back took an hour longer due to the A1 being closed as a result of two separate incidents. It was made bearable by listening to 4Extra’s three hour tribute to Viv Stanshall, founder of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and all round genuine English eccentric. I could have listened to that in my kitchen chair, £70.00 better off and in a much better frame of mind. Maybe I will next season – it’s a long way back from Bournemouth, Ipswich and Brighton.

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4 thoughts on “Sixer’s Soapbox: No show at Norwich”

  1. Like the Childcatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang can smell children I can smell relegation certainties from a distance having witnessed too many over the seasons.

    The first 45 mintes on Saturday confirmed any suspicions that this lot don’t really care whether we survive or not. We splash out our money to follow the team, they take a kings ransom in wages and offer some of the most abject performances to be seen by a Sunderland team for many years.Its not that I don’t believe they are not capable it’s just that they don’t appear to give a monkeys.

    What a chance on Saturday to put down a marker. Most of our relegation rivals in games that they were likely to lose , three points for us would have given us such a boost but we failed miserably again.We are running out of chances.

    Our defence fought valiantly but had to crack when receiving no help from our inept midfield and we have bought quite simply the worst striker in Premiership history. It all added up to another miserable performance.

    It is difficult to see a way out of this one. We can’t rely on our team to do it so can we rely on others to make a botch up of things akin to Wigan last season ? I think it is unlikely and we are heading for the championship and a serious rebuilding project. All very disappointing…..again.

  2. You are more than welcome Jake.It did something to alleviate the gloom that had descended on the coach. Many loyal supporters are seriously contemplating giving up w
    even if we do scrape 17th position.
    Viz a viz nothing, I was having lunch in Caley’s Cafe in Norwich’s wonderful market place, when Abba’s Voulez Vous came on. A truly Partridgian moment.

  3. Well strap me to a tree and call me Brenda! And the silver lining to this big black cloud is that Pete mentioned the Viv Stanshall thing on 4Extra, which alerted me to it and I’m listening to it now. It’s going at least part of the way to lifting my gloom. Thanks Pete.

  4. I do sometimes think that Ellis Short must rue the day Saint Niall talked him into funding this white elephant . Just hope he sticks around, can’t see any billionaire sheiks taking over a championship team in the North East, their loss….

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