Sixer’s Ipswich Soapbox: a waste of time and money

Pete Sixsmith

John McCormick writes: I started Pete Sixsmith‘s report on yesterday’s game at 11.01 on Sunday. It took me about 20 minutes. I can’t tell you how long Pete spent writing it but given its usual high standard you can be sure he put some effort into it.

If you felt so inclined you could calculate how much Jack Rodwell earned in that time*.  Or estimate how much effort was made yesterday. Alternatively, you could ask yourself – why bother?


Where do we start with this one?

It could be with the appalling defending that allowed Ipswich to score with their only shot on target in the whole game.

It could be with the complete lack of movement in the team after the initial buzz of the opening 25 minutes.

It could be with the mood of resignation and apathy that now populates an increasingly desolate Stadium of Light.

Or it could be with the fact that I now, officially, no longer enjoy my visits to Wearside and that I shall be curtailing them if I can find a more attractive and relevant fixture between now and the inevitable demotion to Level Three at the end of the season.

I wondered if this game saw the US Cavalry coming over the hill to save us from a terrible fate – a footballing version of She Wore A Yellow Ribbon or Fort Apache where the cavalry triumph against adversity. We needed a rousing John Ford type performance against Ipswich, something that would rouse us and stir us up for the difficult but ultimately winnable struggle ahead.

What we got was Carry On Custer as yet another weak and insipid performance was served up by a set of players who seem to lack any kind of direction or genuine desire to retrieve what is now becoming an increasingly hopeless situation. Kenneth Williams at his most limp-wristed would have made a better effort at tackling Joe Garner than Billy Jones did for the opening goal while Barbara Windsor would have got closer to the Ipswich attacker than Lee Cattermole did for the second. What a carry on!!!

We had started reasonably well and in Ovie Ejaria we seemed to have a player who could run the game from the middle of the park. He moved well, picked out a good pass and until Mick McCarthy told Cole Skuse to mark him tight, there was hope that we could actually control a midfield.

But it was not to be. He was not able to find as much space as the game went on and Skuse had done his job. Add to that the alarming lack of movement or perception from his colleagues and Ejaria may well be on the blower to Jurgen Klopp and demanding to know what he had done that was so bad he deserved to be sent to the footballing equivalent of a Siberian power station.

There was one incident in the second half that summed up how bloody awful we are and why we are where we are. Ejaria won the ball, moved forward quickly and then had to go round in circles like a dog chasing its tail as not one of his new team mates had made any attempt to get into space. Welcome to the Stadium of Light Ovie. I hope it doesn’t suck the life out of you.

Ashley Fletcher did OK but faded as the game meandered on. He played Asoro in well in the first half and a goal should have resulted from it but it didn’t as the young Swede pulled it wide when he really should have scored. Fletcher is big, has an element of physicality about him and a decent touch. We’ll see how good he is next week when he is up against the best centre half in the division in Aiden Flint.

As for the rest, there is nothing to say that hasn’t been said already. Defensively, we continue to commit errors that lead to soft goals. Our midfield is poor and is easily overrun and we have little attacking punch. Matthews and Oviedo are not wingers (some would argue that they are not even full backs) and it is time for the manager to drop the 3-5-2 system and perhaps look at a 4-4-2 that involves a genuine attacking threat down the flanks. Seeing as the wingers are any two from McGeady, McManaman and LuaLua, I don’t expect much from that.

Coleman is not beyond criticism for this and needs to have a look at his team selection. He has been dealt a wretched hand by the owner and previous managers and that is where the real problems lie. If we are to survive (and I don’t think we will – Bolton and Birmingham are winning difficult games – we are losing straightforward ones) he needs to do what Allardyce did two years ago and get the back four organised and build from that. I don’t see many teams in this league playing with three central defenders, especially when two of them are either on their last legs or terminally hopeless.

As far as the support is concerned, we have given up. A friend of mine who sits in the row in front, left at half time and won’t be back. His daughter has already found better things to do on a Saturday afternoon. The chances of a huge banner appearing castigating Short a la the Mags and Ashley is remote, as there are far too many gaps for it to be held up and we are nowhere near as self-regarding as our friends from the north. But the club is dying and another generation of support is being lost as we slip down the leagues and into what could be an almost permanent oblivion.

Post Office Road

The next detachment of cavalry riding over the hill needs to be some sensible investors who realise the genuine potential of a fine club with loyal (if disenchanted) support and a decent manager. Short is desperate to sell but it doesn’t appear that anyone is desperate to buy.

As for me, the Rugby League season has started so I shall be watching a game where there is no cheating, diving or refusing to play for a club that pays you well. This afternoon (Sunday) I am at the iconic Post Office Road to watch Featherstone Rovers play Halifax where the part time players will give 100% for their clubs, because that is what rugby league players do. Maybe some of ours could tip up and watch what commitment means.


*It took me 20 minutes. At £70,000 per week Jack Rodwell earned £138.89 while I was preparing it. Of course he has to pay tax, so don’t think too harshly of him.

If there is any copyright claim, not answered by ‘fair use’ exemptions, on the  images used to illustrate this report, please make us aware and we will add credits or remove as requested.

9 thoughts on “Sixer’s Ipswich Soapbox: a waste of time and money”

  1. I remember years ago when Pete applied for the Sunderland job,but was turned down.Better luck next time Pete.

  2. I’m off to Bristol this weekend with my best mate. He will never give up, this is just a significant moan. If he wants a rugby league game on the way back, that’s ok, he knows that is a concession. League 1 (Division 3) will be cathartic, if it happens!
    I think we will survive this season. Pete will buy the club with the proceeds of his media empire and give the club back to the fans. We will become the English equivalent of Borrussia Dortmund.

  3. Another masterly summary of our present predicament from the immortal Pete.

    I think it is fair to say that most thinking Sunderland fans appreciate the fundamental circumstances of our gradual [ but now rapidly escalating ] decline. The catalogue of mismanagement which has stalked Mr Short’s tenure is all too obvious to see.

    In terms of a business model, I think his [ Short’s ] is perhaps only eclipsed by our governments planning for Brexit.

    It seems pretty certain that he has now decided to cut his losses by stripping the club of any saleable assets, and hoping meanwhile that he can find a buyer at a price which will at least minimise, his losses.

    What this means for Sunderland, as a valued community institution is anyone’s guess. The potential prospects are frightening.

    I agree with Pete that relegation to Division One is looking increasingly likely. Our present squad might just prosper at that level, and hopefully, assuming he stays, Chris Coleman will assemble a team and a system that will not be a total embarrassment?

    I hope I am wrong, and that Coleman is able to pull off yet another miracle – and Championship survival is beginning to look just that.

  4. There is a part of economic theory which in effect translates as “don’t throw good money after bad.” Or in other words write off your losses.

    Short it appears is now in this position and is just letting the club self destruct. I have been surprised at how many of our supporters kept on defending Short when years ago it was clear to many of us that he hadn’t got a clue and that SAFC was falling apart under his stewardship.

    We think of Sunderland as our club. We were brought up with it and we care about what happens to it. All true football fans are the same whichever club they support. Short thinks of Sunderland as his club and he can do what he likes with it. Despite what he might have said in the past it isn’t ingrained in his heritage, his loyalty or his blood in the way it is with the true fans of the club.

    His is a business mind and he has a billionaire’s attitude. True he has had some bad advice, but he made some disastrous appointments on the admin side. They in turn, with his business model to follow, have made some disastrous decisions with regard to the playing staff.

    I nave never accepted, unlike some, that all our problems on the pitch have been down to poor managerial appointments. O’Neill, Poyet, Advocaat, Bruce, even Moyes and Grayson could all have done a decent job, Di Canio had passion but was the wrong man for the job long term, though he did what he needed to short term. Allardyce could have taken us onwards and upwards. That was the time to push on but the signs were already there that he would not have stayed long, even had the England job not have come up.

    How long before patience runs out with Coleman? Leeds are looking for a manager.

  5. We are a mess. Why are we letting players with a value go on loan , and the Rodwell situation is pathetic. This is about poor management, and legal advice.
    The Cardiff game saw the worst team I have seen in over 50 years. The young players coming through are average , and far too small and slow for today’s game.
    It just shows how low we have dropped when Lua Lua is meant to be our salvation.
    Short is a financial investor, not a business man. But his investment will be worth £20m next season when we go down. If he had invested £50m last season, we would have stayed up and and gone further to clearing debt.

  6. I’m not sure why we’re debating formations with the players we have. At the end of the day you can’t polish a turd, no matter how skilled you are in the realm of man management, what formation you put out. We’ve had our arses handed to us playing 4,4,2!

    I agree with Pete entirely. We are totally doomed. This in my view is the lowest, gut wrenchingly depressing period in our history. Ellis Short has destroyed our magnificent club. He’s ripped the heart out of an entire region and put an abrupt end to the hopes and dreams of fans that deserve a whole lot more. What’s worse is he’s done it without remorse, integrity or common courtesy. How the hell he’s been so successful in business is beyond me. He points to the fact that he’s spent millions – well . . . suck it up buttercup – you bought the club!!! He has multiple billions and prefers to condemn us to the doldrums without the merest hint of an undertaking to put it right. I would give my back teeth to have Niall Quinn back. I once said that he’s the only guy I’d ever allow to go to bed with my wife – but now she’s my ex so Jason Steele can have her.

    Mr Short – get out of our club and stay out. Thanks

  7. I’ve been concerned about CC’s tactics for a while now. He seemed to arrive with completely preconceived thoughts about the tactics he was going to use. Why ? Just because 3-5-2 worked for him in International football, why should it work here ? Surely a manager should be thinking “which formation should I use to get the best out of this bunch of players ?” I know the game at Birmingham was lost by the last 20 mins and the home team had taken their foot off the gas, but we switched to 4-4-2 and looked a thousand times better.

    It’s reminding me of when Martin O’Neill was here, trying to use the tactics he’d used when manager at Villa. It never dawned on him we had no pace up front so it would never work. It was completely idiotic and cost him his job.

    The other thing that worries me about CC is that he appears to rate Billy Jones. When he arrived, didn’t the coaching staff tell him that BJ is the hot favourite for the right-back position in the club’s all time worst ever XI ?

    Simple 4-4-2 is my preference. Get rid of BJ and do NOT bring McManaman back into the squad. At least we might be able to give one or two teams a proper game before we go down.

  8. We were at college with Pete many years ago and knew him very well. Please pass on our good wishes to him. I have only discovered “Salut” in the past few months but I must congratulate Pete on a particularly fine summary of the Ipswich debacle.Pete’s erudite,balanced and interesting comments are a now a “must view” every Sunday morning. How sad to see that supporters of his pedigree have just about given up. I haven’t been myself for one and a half seasons.

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