Malcolm Dawson writes……the official attendance yesterday was 38,394 but judging by the number of empty seats all round the ground I would estimate that about 8,000 season ticket holders didn’t bother to turn up. Pete Sixsmith did and he wasn’t surprised by what he saw on the pitch, nor were the majority of supporters who have been resigned to relegation for months.
The atmosphere inside the ground could have been toxic but generally wasn’t. It was quiet for much of the game, though the souls in the South Stand did their best to make a bit of noise in a half hearted way and it was only towards the end that a few chants of “we want Moysey out” could be heard. It was by no means a deafening protest though I suspect in the remaining away games the more vocal travelling support will turn up the volume.
There was a positive aspect to yesterday’s defeat and that was the absence of traffic, which meant I was driving through Neville’s Cross at a time when I am often still on the Wearmouth Bridge so I was home in time to see Jedward win an edition of “Pointless Celebrities” proving that there are some things that make me squirm in my seat more than watching this current Sunderland side.
Was Peter squirming at the Stadium of Light? Find out by reading on………
AFC BOURNEMOUTH (HOME)
I thought it may have been at Hull next week, which would at least have given me a last decent day out in the FA Premier League but true to form we conceded a goal in the closing minutes and the Tigers’ keeper saved a Southampton penalty at about the same time and the relegation was confirmed. We have four games left. They should be great fun.
The performance against a well organised, tidy and at times physical Bournemouth side was no better or no worse than the rubbish we have had to sit through all season. There were no bright spots just spots that were not quite as damned awful as the others.
I’ll put Didier Ndong in that category. He played well and would probably fit into a Premier League side where players move into position, look to receive the ball and can create gaps for him to carry it. I can see him at Stoke, West Brom, Burnley – one of those teams with a manager who has a clear view of what he wants his players to do and makes sure that he puts square pegs into square holes. With a more careful approach to his passing he would even fit into a Bournemouth team who passed us off the park at times and who look as if they will spend ten years in the top league without ever getting seriously involved in the shenanigans at the bottom.
After that, not a great deal positive to say. Khazri was busy and caused some problems for the Cherries’ defence but his last ball let him down. Pickford had his usual competent game and made a couple of smart saves. We had some chances at the other end and their keeper Artur Boruc was the busier of the two, saving well from Borini and Defoe. Anichebe put in loads of effort and at least looked bothered.
But the rest…….
Donald Love started badly, missing a simple header and it went downhill from there. Kone gave the ball away and was caught upfield, allowing the breakaway that caused the goal. Poor John O’Shea, a man of immense dignity and intelligence, found two games a week one too much for him. Manquillo looked like a right footed player playing at left back. Even Defoe looked as if he had given up the ghost and missed opportunities that he would have put away last season and earlier this.
Borini was poor and should have been sent off for an unpleasant tackle on Arter (who could also have gone for starting an unseemly scuffle) and the less said about Pienaar the better. He was caught in possession, looked so far off the pace that he might as well have been in the car park and even misread the huge cheer as he was replaced by Honeyman as a warm and sympathetic farewell to him. I would be appalled if we ever saw him in a Sunderland shirt again.
And so our ten years in the Premier League comes to an end. There will be opportunities later to assess why we have been such miserable and unloved members of this august institution since we stormed back under Roy Keane. We eventually went out without even a whimper. This is as bad a team as the Aston Villa one that dropped out last year (they lost at relegation threatened Blackburn Rovers yesterday) and I have no optimism that we will be in any better position in twelve months time.
The manager at least changed the formation and played two up front. But the midfield was too slow to support them and once again the impression was of eleven decent footballers being thrown together and told to “Go out there and play.” Contrast that with Bournemouth who have few big names but know exactly what they have to do and have the players who do it. Much of their game goes through Arter and Pugh and in King they have a quick, mobile centre forward. The last one we had like that was David Connelly.
I thought they dived around a bit and I developed an irrational dislike of the left sided midfield player Smith and I also thought that Arter liked himself a bit too much. But they have spent their Russian money wisely while we have squandered our dollars on the Bridcutts, Buckleys and Matthews of this world.
I am heading for Fleetwood Town’s game with Port Vale on Sunday to check out prospective opposition for next season. Their manager, Uwe Rossler, has done well on the Fylde Coast as he did at Brentford and he may well be the type of man who can revitalise our club.
One thing is for sure – David Moyes isn’t the man to do that.