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).
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.