After Stoke horror show, which seven Sunderland players get 3/10?

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake

Monsieur Salut writes: each matchday, ESPN FC expects me – or Pete Sixsmith when I am away – to send a report with a brief summary of the game followed by out-of-10 ratings for manager and team.

I may be wrong but cannot recall any occasion when I have given any player as low a mark as 3/10 (the format was introduced after the thrashings at home administered by Palace and Villa).

Ratings may be an inexact science, and entirely subjective, but after the clueless performance against Stoke City,  I came up with no fewer than eight 3/10s (seven players + the manager). Two players rose magnificently to the occasion with 4/10, Larsson managed 5/10 and – chiefly because of the outstanding way he took his goal –  Jermain Defoe got six. I avoided the phrase “man of the match”.

For those unable or unwilling to follow the link above to ESPN, here are my ratings:


None, apart from Defoe’s run into space, impeccable control and clinical finish.


Sunderland played as if a bunch of sluggish part-timers who had been introduced to one another shortly before kickoff against a team of fitter, stronger and smarter professionals. The limited nature of the comeback, especially after Defoe’s goal offered slender hope, was inexcusable.

Manager rating out of 10

3 — Once again, Moyes had promising under-23 players on the bench and chose not to use them. Their energy and hunger might have jolted the supposed seniors into playing like full internationals (as were nine of Saturday’s XI).

Player ratings

GK Vito Mannone, 4 — Fumbled a shot immediately before Stoke’s opening goal, jumped weakly with Peter Crouch in a vain attempt to prevent the third and generally looked shaky.

DF Donald Love, 4 — Repeatedly exposed as Stoke attacked the left and ruined promising forward play with poor crosses or passes. His long ball, whether an intentional pass or a clearance, did lead to Defoe’s goal.

DF John O’Shea, 3 — A spectator as Stoke waltzed into a three-goal lead and never seemed capable of offering the captain’s example this game demanded.

DF Papy Djilobodji, 3 — Caught out on several occasions and like O’Shea, he was nowhere near Crouch as the tall striker rose with the hapless Mannone to nod home the third.

DF Patrick van Aanholt, 3 — A serious off-day for the Dutch full-back. If his value was judged on a game in which he was as unimpressive in attack as he was vulnerable at the back, Sunderland would be snatching the £7 million offered by Crystal Palace boss Sam Allardyce, the man who turned him into an effective player when managing Sunderland.

MF Jason Denayer, 3 — A dreadfully misplaced pass cost one goal and characterised his game to an extent that the fleeting glimpses of more composed play will not be remembered.

MF Jack Rodwell, 3 — Has a habit of squandering simple chances at key moments. His woeful second half miss ended Sunderland’s lingering hopes of salvaging a point.

MF Sebastian Larsson, 5 — Available all over the pitch, tenacious in gaining or keeping possession but routinely lacking finesse with his final touch.

MF Fabio Borini, 3 — Constantly angry with officials or opponents but significantly short of his best.

MF Adnan Januzaj, 3 — Offered little or no threat on a day that called out for signs of his undisputed talent.

FW Jermain Defoe, 6 — Hardly at his best but produced hope out of nothing with a superb finish for his 12th Premier League goal of the season — an incredible tally given the lack of quality around him.

10 thoughts on “After Stoke horror show, which seven Sunderland players get 3/10?”

  1. And what about the “academy”? And our “scouting network”? In recent years they’ve brought through only Henderson, Colback and Pickford, I suspect more by chance than through any real expertise on their part as all three happened to be living on the club’s doorstep. This is the biggest failure at the club, not producing young ‘uns good enough to rise to the first team when a crisis(and that is what we’ve got here) requires it. By all accounts the academy is among the best in the country, facilities-wise, so it must be the staff and their methods that are falling short. That, or the kids supplied by our scouts are just not good enough in the first place so hoying money at them is a waste of time. Moyes had a bench full of kids and refused to use even one of them, this was even more puzzling during the Burnley cup game, which proves he doesn’t rate any of them, NOT ONE! Is it a plea to Short for cash? Maybe, but the paucity of any flow of lads coming through has been evident for years and it has to be sorted out.

    • I think Moyes is passing a “help” message to Short, however I personally think that is not acceptable to keep on with this tactic. The youngsters deserve a chance and may well take it as has Pickford and equally important the supporters deserve to see EVERY option tried.

    • Re the academy, what is the policy as regards hanging on to players? I mean at what age do they decide a lad isn’t going to make it? Honeyman is 22, now I reckon if he’s not good enough at 22 he never will be so why persist with him? Let him go and play football at a level he can manage, better for him and better for the club.

  2. I’m continually amazed at the attitude to Defoe! Comments like ‘stopped trying’ are stupefying. He has always been an out and out striker, making runs into the channels and box to get onto through balls and crosses. Since at Sunderland he has played on the left wing and then centrally, has had to deal with long balls fired at his head and chest and feed off scraps; and still managed to score goals. Yesterday he tried to close down 2 central defenders, alone; watched the ball hoofed up into the air for the 2 central defenders to simply head clear, yet he still made runs into space and in behind, the fact that the ball was consistently delivered too late, or not at all, is hardly his fault. He was still making the runs late in the game! He did not stop trying, but what he does is so far removed from almost every other player in our team it is embarrassing! The only other player worth a mention is Larsson, who put the other, far younger players to shame with his industry and pride.

  3. A tad harsh in my opinion. I’d give 4s and 5s maybe. Am I the only one who thinks Defoe stopped trying after an hour? Can’t blame him if he did or maybe he was carrying a knock.

    One positive from today – they spelt Honeyman correctly on the scoreboard!

    42,000 there today deserved better.

    • You were there, Malcolm, and I watched on a good stream _ preferring Barnes/Benno as commentary though a few seconds behind – but allowing for your clearer view of everything going on, would you have awarded 4s and 5s at half time, except to Defoe and even then only for the way he took his goal? I think he was carrying a knock, but like you would hardly blame him if he just gave up.

      • IMO largely because Stoke didn’t need to try any more. We were well beaten and I think if Rodwell had taken his golden chance as he should then they would simply have scored another – or maybe two. This was a classic men v boys game, with our (school) boys errors caused by the strength, class, experience and will to win in abundance throughout the Stoke team.

  4. The 11 hour day and costs amounting to nearly £100 that it takes me to travel, eat and watch this dross with my family for a home game is rapidly becoming unsustainable. If the players can’t be **sed to put some kind of effort in when earning more in a week than I do in a year then the time has come to take serious stock.

    Mr Salut is spot on if not rather generous with his markings and I agree that Larsson and Defoe are the only 2 that deserve pass marks. Where we go from here us really quite concerning. No money to improve this ailing squad means we are hoping there are 3 worse teams us in the league which is looking increasingly unlikely.

    • Empathy felt here. My eight hour drive became nine when we were stationary for an hour on M1 on journey up. I only hope I did not contribute to this debacle by my prediction which allowed for us losing this game.

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