Wrinkly Pete: my own ‘Dear Gus’ on the Norwich and Liverpool contrast

Jake: 'I'm not counting the wrinkles ...'
Jake: ‘I’m not counting the wrinkles …’

In common with Monsieur Salut and a lot of others, Peter Lynn* – aka Wrinkly Pete – gets the post-match e-mails from Gus Poyet. He decided it was time to write back and M Salut thinks this should be published before a prize edition of Guess the Score for SAFC v West Ham, which will now appear from Saturday morning with the added incentive of a competition for tickets, travel and hotel to attend the Champions League final in Lisbon …

Dear Gus,

Thank you for your post Liverpool and post Norwich defeats messages.

I realise these are not easy to write, so soon after what must have been for you disappointing (Liverpool) and infuriating (Norwich) results.

I also fully understand that, in order to try to raise the morale of players and fans, you may paint a rosier picture of the situation or withhold some things you might really want to say.

I, however, have no such restrictions, so will put a few thoughts forward:

Our “display” against Norwich. No, I will have to find another word than display as I have seen such things as Red Arrows displays so to associate the Norwich shambles with anything like that is misrepresentative. Actually, shambles is about right, with so called professional footballers unable to pass or control a ball, find a space in which to receive a pass and fail to make more than one attacking threat, all indicative of a team out of its depth. Worse, however, was the lack of spirit shown by the majority of the team that day.

Borini, on loan, showed what can be achieved by pressing your opponents – but it has to be done in unison. Worse still, in terms of unprofessionalism, were Cattermole’s booking for backchat, having just been warned not to do so and Alonso’s petulant Beckhamesque kick, later followed by blatant handball, inevitably resulting in dismissal. Did he do it to avoid the Liverpool game?

These are things which in normal employment would warrant disciplinary action. In today’s football world, the only action is that taken by the FA or possibly a small monetary club fine.

The final straw for me was the players’ post match reaction to the sell-out away fans: only Mannone, as blameless for the defeat as Borini, approached closely to our fans. OK, there were some justified boos but they stopped, to be replaced within seconds by “O Vito Mannone”. These, after all, are magnificent fans who give their time, money and hearts without question, year after year.

Many that day will have done far more than me to get to watch that shambles so I will unashamedly describe my day:

Travelling alone, I left home at 8.30am, drove from Solihull to Nuneaton, caught train to Peterborough, changed to train to Norwich, arriving at 1.30pm. Had a quick pint with friends, part-funded with the savings I made by taking a packed lunch, and then watched a Norwich team that outplayed us because they wanted to win. My gloom during the return journey was lifted by some of our fans in my first train singing “Things can only get better”, and I arrived home at 9.30pm, tired.

I was unable to go to the Liverpool game so watched on TV but our performance I don’t have a problem with because we tried, up to the level of our ability.

It is on this last point that I wish to continue, if you are still reading!

You have inherited a squad chosen by other managers but that is not unique to football, of course. You, like your two immediate predecessors, got something more out of the players initially. You have done so subsequently, although not consistently.

It doesn’t take a genius then to deduce that the present squad is inadequate.

I genuinely believe you have turned the squad around for the better since you arrived and sincerely hope that you stay with us to develop your exciting vision of how football should be played, whether we avoid relegation or not.

Kind Regards,


Peter Lynn
Peter Lynn
* Peter Lynn on himself: * born in Bristol, 1944, to parents from Roker and West Hartlepool. Supported Sunderland, at a distance, since age 10; inspired by Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly.

Moved to Midlands in 1976 and got to occasional games, home but mostly away until 2008. Then made contact with Heart of England branch of SAFC Supporters’ Association and found ways to get to most home games and many away games. Sunderland highlight: Being at Wembley, 5/5/73, with my Dad. Sunderland lowlight: (so far!!!) Everton FA Cup replay, 27/3/2012.

1 thought on “Wrinkly Pete: my own ‘Dear Gus’ on the Norwich and Liverpool contrast”

  1. Well said.May I also add that I have suspicions when the squad raise their game against bigger teams, it happens a lot regardless of the result. Are they more concerned with impressing dream potential employers ,than actually putting in 100% game after game regardless ,for the fans and the club who between them actually fund the grotesque wages they currently enjoy?

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