Sixer’s QPR Soapbox: Sunderland slip up as Cattermole made to tread egg shells

Jake: a diminished Lee means a diminished SAFC
Jake: a diminished Lee means a diminished SAFC

Pete Sixsmith‘s wisest decision on Saturday was his choice of pub, the trick being to beat the ploddish Met Police anti-supporter radar, get a good pint and not still have miles to make up to reach the ground. Notting Hill Gate, the Commissioner will doubtless be surprised and relieved to hear, survived the visit from a dozen or more Sunderland fans. Then it was time to head on to White City and the day went downhill, as Pete describes …

Two consecutive Saturdays in London, two different feelings after the game ended.

The first brought me elation and pleasure as Leeds claimed the Rugby League Challenge Cup against a dogged and determined Castleford side. The second saw disappointment and frustration as Sunderland fell to their first defeat against a dogged and determined Queens Park Rangers side.

The readership (many thanks to both of you) will want to concentrate on the second Saturday. It would give this scribe much more pleasure to write about the win at Wembley than the loss at Loftus Road, but we are Salut! Sunderland not L’amour Leeds.

This was a game that could and should have been won and a game which shows up some of the flaws in our game plan and in some individuals. We dominated the first 20 minutes and came back strongly in the last 15 as Rangers desperately and ultimately successfully, held on for their first win and points of the season.

The goal that they got was yet another one conceded from a set piece. A corner in the 45th minute, taken by Joey Barton (who had a good game) went across the box to Leroy Fer, who had taken a step away from Seb Larsson. He headed it back into the box where Charlie Austin was standing unmarked and he thumped it into the net.

Look at Larsson’s reaction on the video clips. He knows that he should have stayed with Fer. It was a serious error and coming as it did in the 44th minute, it sent us into the half time break very much on the back foot.

The first 20 minutes were the best we have played this season. Wickham and van Aanholt rampaged down the left, tormenting the elderly Clint Hill. Chances were created for the Dutchman (Fer’s cousin) and Fletcher and, with a little more care and power they could have gone in.

Cattermole was excellent in this opening period, winning the ball, pushing forward and looking every inch a prospective England player – as long as he signs for Newcastle. Then, he was booked for a non-foul by referee Robert Madley, causing him to realise that the next mistimed tackle would end up with him departing for the metaphorical early bath.

Take his tackling and competitive edge out of the game and he visibly shrinks. Rangers proceeded to try to get him sent off, particularly the wretched Jordon Mutch, once of relegated Cardiff City. Some may remember his futile attempts to wind up Cattermole at the SoL in April as City collapsed.

It allowed Rangers to come into the game as neither Larsson nor the disappointing Rodwell could fill the boots of the Teessider. They impressive Fer had already rattled the bar and that combined with Cattermole’s caution seemed to make us nervy and edgy.

Jake: QPR's game plan was a) get him booked c) subdue him as a result c) get him sent off. Two out of three wasn't bad for 'Arry
Jake: QPR’s game plan was a) get him booked b) subdue him as a result c) get him sent off. Two out of three wasn’t bad for ‘Arry

The second half was a disappointment as the time dripped away and we barely troubled Robert Green in the Rangers goal. Fletcher faded away to nothingness, Wickham produced very little and the only shot we had on target until the very end, was a half hit shot from Vergini.

Rangers dug in and defended stoutly. The experience of Rio Ferdinand and the impressive positioning of Steven Caulker negated much of what we knocked forward, while our midfield made little progress against Fer and Barton – oh how it hurts to write that name in such a positive context.

The substitutions, when they came, were too late. Our performance cried out for a player with the quality of Giaccherini to create something from deep. An extra 10 minutes might just have made that difference as, by the hour mark, Rodwell was practically invisible.

When the Italian did come on, he came closest to scoring, forcing a fine save out of Robert Green seconds after looking on despairingly as Adam Johnson faffed around with a corner kick. We need to see more of him and give him the Borini role if, as seems likely, that transfer is not going to happen.

Mannone was fine; the back four looked good with van Aanholt having few problems with QPR’s show pony wingers. The five-man midfield started well but failed to impose itself on a home team who could have buckled had we taken the lead. They didn’t because we didn’t.

The main plus of the day was discovering the Uxbridge Arms, a splendid pub 100 yards from Notting Hill Gate Underground. Three very drinkable cask ales and a great ambience set us up nicely for an away win – or so we thought.

For Monsieur Salut, this was his usual chastening first glimpse of the season. Swansea last year, a debacle (and a deluge) against Manchester City a few years ago.

He must wonder why, 50 years on, we signed up for half a century of disappointment.


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14 thoughts on “Sixer’s QPR Soapbox: Sunderland slip up as Cattermole made to tread egg shells”

  1. It reminds me of the time Ravanelli signed for Boro. He apparently didn’t fancy it all that much, so his agent said, “tell them you want ______ per week then!”

    To his surprise they agreed to his ludicrous demands and he signed. I just don’t think Borini fancied going to QPR.

    70K a week is a lot of money, especially for a fringe player.

  2. I agree William. There are several things which are of concern with the pursuit of Borini. These were my comments on another forum an hour ago.

    1. Paying over the odds for the player
    2. We’ve pursued the bugger for months and announced a fee was agreed
    3. We needed to sign Borini or someone of a similar ilk (we haven’t)
    4. Poyet refused to let it go and kept talking about it making us look like lemons.
    5. He signs for someone else for less money than we had agreed
    6. Our striking options still include Altidore, Fletcher and Graham.
    7. In terms of forwards we have made 2 steps back since January.

    • Reportedly QPR wouldn’t meet his wage demands of £90,000 a week. If I can believe what I’ve heard he’s on £70k at Liverpool. I’m sure Sunderland wouldn’t match either of those amounts.

      Time for Fletch, Wickham and Altidore to produce. Despite Coates am still more concerned about the centre back situation.

  3. If the increasingly ominous reports re Borini and QPR are true, I shall feel betrayed. Staying to fight for his place at Liverpool? Respectable.Wanting to join an Italian side involved in the Champions league? Totally understandable. He would probably have ended up on the benches of any of those teams, but he is not paid to be a Sunderland supporter and must go for the best he can get. But to join ‘Arry and QPR just because they’re in London reeks of something rotten to the core.

    All to be withdrawn if he’s really on his way up to Wearside as I write!

    • Your sentiments are understandable. I am neither surprised our bothered.

      I have said previously on this site that I doubted that Borini wanted to return, given the prevarication we have witnessed.

      I think that the most worrying thing aspect of this saga is the questions it raises about Poyet’s judgement. Why has he pursued this thing so long when it was pretty obvious that FB was keeping us dangling in the hope, presumably, that someone more to his liking came in?

      I imagine that he has ignored other, better, options, and is now left hanging with hours to go before the window closes.

      I hope that Poyet has a plan B, and personally, I am pleased that we have not wasted a shed load of money on a player who doesn’t want to play for us, and who, IMO, is not that special anyway – if Brendan Rodgers thought he was any good I doubt if he would have been busy pushing him out of the door?

      • I think Alvarez and Giaccherini will both play the role that Gus had in mind for Borini. Buckley and Johnson can also play on the left. Fletcher doesn’t look as if he is a sharp as he used to be and I wait to be convinced that Wickham can be the clinical finisher we need. Hope I’m wrong.

      • 3 1/2 hours left to ship one of them out, but unless Gus has a surprise up his sleeve, a striker does not appear to be on the horizon.

  4. Sadly, Lee Cattermole is saddled with his reputation, which will probably stay with him for the rest of his career, regardless of performance. Pity, because he does appear to be evolving into a much more mature player.

    I don’t really understand why Giaccherini doesn’t start games. IMO he is our most creative player.

  5. Everybody in the Mackemsphere is praying for Jack Rodwell to get match fit and become the player we know he is. Sadly, he’s miles away at the moment.

    I’m not sure that we can continue to start him regularly while this situation persists – it’s not as if we’re short in midfield.

    I don’t mean to pick out purely Rodwell for criticism, God knows Fletcher shouldn’t be starting, but Rodwell seems to be untouchable at the moment whilst being largely invisible on the field,

  6. We’ve now lost a goal in 3 consecutive PL games due to a player losing concentration. Football is as much mental as physical. 2 weeks to sort it out.

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