Stop press: Sixer was at Rotherham, along with David Moyes, to see an efficient 2-1 win friendly win. His Sixer’s Sevens verdict: “Good workout in front of new boss”
The Observer digs deep one again into its coffers to recruit our own Pete Sixsmith for a few words on Big Sam. How deep? Er, not enough to pay for the ice cream you see him licking; Sixer’s reward may well have to await his arrival on heaven (rather as is the case here at Salut! Sunderland. He was naturally writing before the David Moyes appointment was known) …
When Sam walked into the club, he inherited a group of players who were unfit, disillusioned and whose collective will was on a par with the recent Shadow Cabinet.
Nine months later, they are as fit as any Sunderland team I have seen, have reservoirs of self belief and are as together as the Spartans were at Thermopylae – the difference being that we won and they lost. He worked with the existing players, improving both full backs and realising that Jermain Defoe could play up front on his own. He brought in three quality signings in January who went on to play a huge part in keeping us in the Premier League.
As for doing anything badly……well, there was that embarrassing dance after the Everton game, but he was forgiven for it.
A big success as befits a big man. The crowd knew that he was a good fit for the club; gritty, pragmatic and doing simple things well. There was little or no criticism of him from the vast majority of supporters who began to see a real improvement after Christmas. He had used the time from his appointment to the window opening, assessing what he had and realising who was not up to scratch.
As for England, it’s a different job. He will look to create a similar ethos among the England players but he won’t have them all the time. Players used to different methods will need to adapt to Sam’s. He will be under much greater public scrutiny, particularly from the London based press and London based supporters who don’t take as kindly to him as we Northerners do.
I don’t think he will make many changes. He will use an easy World Cup Qualifying group to look at players and assess their strengths and weaknesses. He won’t have Harry Kane taking corners or Joe Hart walking round with a ridiculous Lion on his back.
As someone who has no interest whatsoever in the national team, I am sorry to see him go. If he doesn’t succeed, it won’t be from lack of hard work.