John McCormick writes: Pete Sixsmith has been there, he’s done it and and he has the scars under the T shirt. Today he reminisces about Fred Astaire, probably to keep his mind from Dame Nelly Melba, who’s warming up somewhere in the background, and then he gives us his opinion.
Do you want to read it? Probably not but it has to be better than our manager’s e-mail:
When Fred Astaire went for a screen test in the mid 1920’s , rumour has it that a studio functionary said of the great man “Can’t sing, can’t act, can dance a little” Eighty years on, Gus Poyet’s far more accurate but no less withering assessment of this humiliating and terminal defeat at White Hart Lane was “Can’t pass; Can’t shoot; Can’t make decisions”. Not even the saving grace of “a little”.
The final quarter of an hour of this debacle was as dismal as anything we have turned out in the seven seasons we have frittered away a huge amount of money in the Premier League. Once the impressive Christian Eriksen had been left unchallenged to score the third and decisive goal, the whole house of cards came tumbling down as we ended the game looking like the rabble that we undoubtedly are. Further goals from Adebayor and Sigurdsson confirmed a pleasant night for Spurs fans and an awful one for the hardy souls who had trekked down from the North East.
Poyet’s assessment was accurate. Basics that have to be mastered by any football team, whether they are playing in the Premier League or the Wear Valley Sunday League, are ignored by this team when the going gets tough. An acceptable first half performance where the players worked hard to limit Spurs to a single goal, was negated in the second where we just stopped doing the basics.
Throughout the game, the ball was consistently given away in all areas of the pitch. When we got near the goal, we never really threatened; Brown put a good header wide, Borini forced a save out of Loris, while Cattermole (our best player by a long way – and what does that tell you) was able to take advantage of comical defending by Spurs to score his first goal in what I suspect will be one of his last games for Sunderland.
Defensively, there were more howlers than you would find in Billy Bunter’s end of term Latin exam. Spurs first two goals came about because we did not stop crosses coming in and, when they arrived, a hapless Wes Brown, once of England and Manchester United and perpetrator of the tackle of the season at The Sports Direct Arena, was beaten to the ball first by Adebayor and then by Harry Kane. It seems certain that Brown and his erstwhile teammate John O’Shea will be paid off at the end of the season.
O’Shea sat this one out and was replaced by Carlos Cuellar who was no better and no worse than we expected, while Santiago Vergini surely cannot wait to get back to Estudiantes de la Plata ASAP. Not his worst game for us but still pretty awful.
A three man midfield of Bridcutt (Championship player at best – we will find out next season), Cattermole (did well) and Ki (killing time before the World Cup comes along) hardly threatened – and as for up front; well……
Our inadequacies in this area were clearly shown in the 75thminute when Johnson earned a free kick in a good position down the right hand side of the Spurs defence. Up stepped the former England international. In front of him were all of our big men, with one of them hoping to plant a header in the net to level the scores and set us on our way to a famous away win that would start off the run that would preserve our Premier League place.
He lined it up carefully and, for once, lifted it over the first defender. Unfortunately it went over the heads of everybody else for a throw in to Spurs, rousing the slumbering Spurs support to give us a rousing chorus of “That’s why you’re going down”. Many in the Sunderland area probably agreed.
Two minutes later, Eriksen drilled home his goal and that, as they say, was that. Then came the total disintegration of the “team” allowing Spurs to plunder two more. Even Mannone made mistakes.
It is now an impossible task. The next three games will surely seal our fate as Everton, Chelsea and Manchester City will certainly role over this bedraggled and bemused bunch. Cardiff and West Brom will surely see a visit to Sunderland as an ideal opportunity to gain valuable points in their respective bids to stay in with the big boys.
The future frightens me. I can see no more than three of last night’s selection staying with us for next season (Mannone, Bardsley and Bridcutt should anyone be interested). Players will leave and there may even be changes in the management team. Jobs will go in the ticket office, retail and administration. It will be 2005-06 all over again.
Whether Ellis Short wants to continue funding a club that seems to be hell bent on destruction must be open to doubt. Whether I want to continue to turn up at the SOL 23 times next season to watch Bournemouth, Blackburn and Boro is equally open to doubt. One thing is not; I shan’t be wasting time and my hard earned pension on trips to Eastlands, Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford.
Never have the Northern League and the Rugby League looked more attractive.
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