Sixer’s Sevens: Hull City 1 SAFC 0: Sunderland architects of their own downfall

Pete Sixsmith - or supersub - does it in seven words
Pete Sixsmith – or supersub – does it in seven words
Jake's graphic reflects the score not the relative sendings off!
Jake’s graphic reflects the score not the relative sendings off!

When you’re one down and your goalkeeper is injured in the first half, limiting the manager’s options to change things from the bench, the last thing you need is for one of your senior players to slip back into old habits and get himself sent off for a needless and reckless challenge in the middle of the field. Unfortunately Lee Cattermole has previous and once again proved that his qualities as a combative midfielder are negated by a total lack of self control and an inability to consider the bigger picture. So what does that say about Andrea Dossena? Perhaps he was worried that the bathwater would get cold. What other reason could he have to follow up the former skipper’s lunacy with his own moment of madness. Whatever qualities Gus Poyet is trying to instil in the team common sense obviously hasn’t been one of them. Pete Sixsmith wasn’t one of the 200 fans who left at half time – he stayed till the bitter end – but his seven word summing up accurately reflects his anguish …

Read moreSixer’s Sevens: Hull City 1 SAFC 0: Sunderland architects of their own downfall

Wear/Tyne derby day memories from the red and white van man

Jake asks the Lads - ours - to get the season started, just nine games in
Jake asks the Lads – ours – to get the season started, just nine games in

Ellie McKeown who works for the local news website Sky Tyne and Wear, has sent us this link to an article and video of Seaham based Sunderland supporter Paul Welch who has gone to some lengths to show his passion for SAFC in the run up to tomorrow’s vital (when is it not vital?) derby match with our old foes from down the road.

Read and watch here:

Red and White Van Man

or

Frightfully Tactile, Men (if I may say so) ...
Frightfully Tactile, Men (if I may say so) …

Sixer’s Man Utd Soapbox: De Gea de difference

Came second again, says Jake
Came second again, says Jake

Malcolm Dawson writes…in all honesty I’m not sure many of us in our heart of hearts expected a win but as always most of us will have wished for a performance that would produce an upset. We always go in hope, even when we don’t go in expectation and for a while on Saturday, it looked as if our hopes and dreams just might come true. It was a gutsy first half followed by the down to earth reality which is part and parcel of being a Sunderland fan. As usual Peter Sixsmith was perched on his eyrie, high in the East Stand and as usual he brings us his version of events on the pitch.

Read moreSixer’s Man Utd Soapbox: De Gea de difference

Gambles’ Rambles: raging against the machine (part 2)

Ken by Jake
Ken by Jake

Ken Gambles is a man with a spleen to vent. In part one of his rage against the people in power, he took issue with the FA and the media. This time around he goes global taking FIFA to task and the media again, for what he sees as its influence over the events of last weekend. It’s short but not so sweet.

 Ken Gambles looking for the elephant in the stadium
Ken Gambles looking for more elephants in the stadium

My discomfort with the workings of the FA carries me seamlessly on to FIFA, an embodiment of the misuse of power.
The World Cup 2022 summer tournament is awarded to the oil rich State of Qatar. Wait a minute, it’s decided that it’s too hot there in summer so FIFA will change it to winter. In my book the whole bidding process was held under false pretences. I hope that the USA and Australia make a legal challenge so that the decision is retaken or substantial compensation is paid.

And so to last week-end’s events. (Sorry M Salut I couldn’t resist my own two penn’orth). The orchestrators of the anti-Di Canio campaign are no doubt satisfied with their work and enjoying their saucer of cream. I think there were issues on both sides and that eventually more might come out to enable a better judgement to be made. Might I just make one serious observation. I was slightly to the left of the demonstrating fans at West Brom. I knew this would be an important media moment so was determined to see exactly what was going on. At best there were only 30 or 40 fans shouting out. Another 600 or so either clapped or stood in silence (admittedly large numbers had already headed for the buses). Of course it was the protesting fans who got the media coverage. Whatever the rights and wrongs there was no sense of a crowd rebellion.

The sacking on Sunday reminds me very much of events that happened on a few occasions to fellow school teachers. A sixth-former would be reprimanded for missing work or non-attendance at lessons. Cue visit of said sixth-former to Head of Sixth to complain about the member of staff who didn’t explain things well, who picked on him and who had destroyed his love of History, Geography or whatever. A couple of friends approach the Head of Sixth form to con firm and for good measure a parent might complain. Upshot is that it was the teacher who was put under pressure, often removed from the class and the miscreant went Scot free.

... Jake suspects PDC may have overlooked a change in the law.
… Jake’s view of PDC before he was removed from The Remove. Crikey!

If in Lord Acton’s words ‘power corrupts’ I think that there is plenty of evidence in the world of football to feel he was on the right lines. It is difficult to know what specifically we can do about other than to keep making our voices heard and to support any worthwhile campaigns such as that against overpriced tickets. In the words of Frederick Douglas, a freed slave writing in 1857, ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand – it never did and it never will.’ Let’s keep demanding something better.


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Gambles’ Rambles: raging against the Premiership machine (part 1)

Ken by Jake
Ken by Jake

Arsenal fans have their own conspiracy theory so why should we be any different? In the first part of a rant, begun before the upheaval of last weekend, Ken Gambles has a go at the “Old Boys Network” of the F.A. and the mainstream media. Is there, as he suspects, a concerted ganging up against little old Sunderland? Would the fans of Norwich, Hull, Fulham, Southampton etc. go along with his thinking?

 Ken Gambles looking for the elephant in the stadium
Ken Gambles looking for the elephant in the stadium

I empathised very much with Jeremy Robson’s cri-de-coeur two weeks ago about the inherent bias and corruption in football, and whilst I wouldn’t go as far as he did, in the words of the old saying ‘just because you are paranoid, it doesn’t mean they are not out to get you’.

Martin Atkinson’s poor refereeing decision against Arsenal was a double mistake, but it is noticeable how little stir it caused in the wider football world. He wasn’t even demoted for a week despite such bad judgement and can we truly believe that there wouldn’t have been a huge furore had it happened to one of the ‘big boys’ and there would have been little else under discussion for the rest of the week. Whilst not ascribing corruption to Mr. Atkinson, he seems to symbolise the age-old deference to power – it might not be overt, but certainly one knows one’s place and it seldom serves to upset those with influence. Sadly this is even more true in the wider world than in football which is why deep injustice, bias and the abuse of privilege are common in society, bringing me nicely to Greg Dyke.

He of Roland Rat fame, no doubt in his (well-deserved?) new job sought to make an impact and chose to have a pop at little old Sunderland for its lack of English players. This surprising stance is then supported by a Daily Mail article of such stunning ineptitude and misinformation it’s a wonder it was ever published. (I’m surprised you are astounded by anything published in the Daily Mail – Ed!)

For years Chelsea and Arsenal, to name but two clubs, have had a minimum of English players in their squads, but this is not mentioned. Foreign managers too! Newcastle’s ‘French Revolution’ is celebrated, the Strawberry is renamed La Fraise and oh how amusing and delightful it all was. But in comparison, it’s “let’s have a go at Sunderland. No one’s really bothered about them and their manager is a convenient Aunt Sally anyway.” And so it goes.

Paranoid? Well when the BBC starts editing its coverage to show our (now former – ed) manager in a worse light and when his interviews omit what Louise Taylor of The Guardian calls “intelligent and witty observations” you have to conclude something’s going on. Clearly the’ big clubs’ are where the real stories are unless you want a quick knee-jerk reaction to a situation of which most people have minimal knowledge.

Jalkes washes brightest
Jalkes washes brightest

Paolo Di Canio’s appointment as Sunderland manager caused an outcry, yet his Swindon appointment was by and large ignored. West Ham have a Paolo Di Canio suite but again this is seemingly of no interest to the media. Is this looking like a conspiracy yet?

Mark Halsey’s revelations that he sent texts to Sir Alex Ferguson and that Jose Mourhino paid for a holiday for him leaves a worrying and sour taste. Bow the knee to power and privilege – nothing too overt – but how can a referee not be affected by such relationships? Remember George Courtney and Geoff Winter being all palsy-walsy calling the top players by their first names, yet using surnames for the journeymen? As Shakespeare said, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”. Those with power obviously want to retain it and if others willingly collude all well and good.

Sunderland have been as bad as any in using loan players, but I feel it is intrinsically wrong for players to be loaned to sides in the same division. This has now reached ridiculous proportions where such top-notch talent as Victor Moses and Lukaku are out on loan. Of course they can play against all the other teams in the league but not against Chelsea. How very fair. I recently heard Martinez talking about feeder clubs and how it would be of great benefit to Accrington say to watch Everton Reserves, so the poor old loyal 1500 Accrington supporters won’t have much say in the matter. No doubt if it’s what Premier League teams want it will eventually happen and for me that will finally make clear that the English game is finished and will have lost its soul completely.


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Sixer’s Peterborough Soapbox: relief all round as Cats purr their way to victory

SoapboxPOSH

The atmosphere around the Stadium of Light last night was not that of a club in crisis writes Malcolm Dawson. Mind you when I arrived outside the ground an hour before kick off it was obviously typical of a League Cup fixture – quieter than Bishop Auckland on a Friday night when the bouncers outside the pubs outnumber the punters within. Surprisingly perhaps there was little talk of Di Canio’s departure, player power or possible incoming coaches. It seemed to me that those inside the ground were hoping that a decent performance would erase the memories of the dismal start to the season. There was a decent turn out too of Posh supporters on a mizzly September evening – more than Fulham brought. Pete Sixsmith was there too.

NEWsoapbox(Without Score)

A WEIGHT OFF THE SHOULDERS

It was a cup tie and it was against a team who were two divisions below us, but there was a palpable sense of relief at the SoL last night as a predominantly British team shrugged off Peterborough United to make it into the last 16 of the Football League Cup.

Relief at the fact that the owner had taken action to arrest a situation which was looking critical if not terminal even after five games; relief at the fact that we have not stampeded into a quick appointment and are happy to look at several candidates while leaving the first team in the very English hands of Kevin Ball.

Nobody that I spoke to was anything other than pleased that the mercurial Italian had left. The players were welcomed with warm applause, particularly O’Shea and Larsson, who are reputedly the ones who led the delegation to Margaret Byrne. They looked like men who had had a huge weight taken off their shoulders.

It would be wrong to describe the 90 minutes that followed as a sparkling performance. Some of the team were rusty, hardly having played this season. Others were desperate to impress and maybe tried too much. But they won, are in the next round and looked like a better team than past results have indicated.

Cattermole had an immediate impact, sitting deep and winning the ball before moving it forward. At times, he reminds me of a parks player, constantly chasing the ball and then giving it away. But he played one exquisite through ball to Giaccherini in the 32nd minute, which saw the excellent Italian put us ahead.
Ball played him behind Altidore, in the role in which we always hoped Sessegnon would excel. He looked a very good player last night, quick, sharp and with the ability to create his own space. This one could work and his celebrations when he scored indicated that he had played a considerable part in ensuring that Di Canio was queuing at the Alitalia desk on Monday morning.

Another who looked quietly impressive was Ki, who does simple things well and also has the ability to create his own space. However, he let himself down with a nasty challenge on Lee Tomlin, raking his foot down Tomlin’s Achilles and putting the Posh’s most influential player out of the game after 10 minutes. Altidore worked hard, as always, and was unlucky with a thumping shot that hit the post in the first half and Johnson was always a good outlet on the left. He put in a wonderful centre for Roberge to head home to wrap the game up, having earlier curled one just round the post.

So, no embarrassment to a team below us in the pyramid and a feeling that players and crowd were united in the face of adversary. We go into Sunday’s game against Liverpool with a win under our belts and that sense of relief that a bully has been beaten and that there is the potential of salvaging the season and getting some points on the board.
Kevin Ball has said that he wants the job. He has done well with the Under 21’s – but so did Ricky Sbragia. Whoever takes over has to be vetted carefully and has to have either the credentials or the potential to make quick progress. Poyet seems to be in a strong position and could be an interesting appointment. I suspect that Tony Pulis or Alex McLeish will not be popular with fans, but they are honest and reliable men. I like the cut of Eddie Howe’s jib and he has done well at Bournemouth and I gather he was on the Everton short list in the summer.

Whoever it is has a decent bunch of players to work with, and more importantly, a group of players who have shown that they do care about the club and their own professional reputations. Talk of player power is nonsense – as Martin Smith said on Total Sport, if they didn’t care about the club they would just say they were injured and pick up their salaries as Angeleri and a few others have done over the years.

We await the appointment with interest – and hope that Bally can give his chances a real boost on Sunday.


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Bally’s Backchat: pleasing performance against The Posh

Malcolm Dawson writes: We have become used to our various managers’ post match e-mails focusing on the positives in defeat. After a weekend of turmoil caretaker boss Kevin Ball takes care to emphasise the positives in victory and in stark contrast to his recently departed predecessor, picks out one or two individuals for special praise. Of course when Ellis Short invites the men in charge to clear their desks he insists that M Salut’s personal e-mail address is left in a prominent position so that he doesn’t miss out on the immediate post match reaction. Here’s what Bally had to say after a professional display that may have lacked the drama of the previous round but one which sees us safely in the draw for the next …

Jake's own three-word verdict: 'Ooh, Bally, Bally'
Jake’s own three-word verdict: ‘Ooh, Bally, Bally’

Read moreBally’s Backchat: pleasing performance against The Posh

Goodbye Paolo: SAFC announces the parting of the ways

Fans who were singing yesterday about Paolo Di Canio’s imminent sacking were correct. It’s official.

http://www.safc.com/news/club-news/2013/september/club-statement

Jake asks the question  which the club have now answered
Jake asks the question which the club have now answered

This is what the SAFC statement said on Sunday night:

Sunderland AFC confirms that it has parted company with head coach Paolo Di Canio this evening.

Kevin Ball will take charge of the squad ahead of Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup game against Peterborough United and an announcement will be made in due course regarding a permanent successor.

The club would like to place on record its thanks to Paolo and his staff and wishes them well for the future.


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Sixer’s Soapbox: Arsenal, Altidore and Atkinson

NEWsoapbox(Without Score)There was a bevvy of Salut! Sunderland contributors in the Kings Arms on Saturday lunchtime – a bevvy being the collective noun for a group of like minded people meeting in a boozer – and we were all optimistically predicting a home win whilst secretly expecting to get nothing from the game. We elected not to drown our collective sorrows after the match but you will doubtless read our own thoughts in the comments sections of the post Arsenal articles and podcasts which appear on this site. M Salut, was not there, ensconced as he is in his French château but his thoughts can be found on his ESPN blog at http://espnfc.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/2060. As usual the esteemed Peter Sixsmith presents his own view of the game, as seen from his seat high in the East Stand.

SoapboxARSENAL

Where to start?
• With the team selection, which handed the first half to Arsenal?
• With the huge improvement in the second half that gave us a glimmer of hope in what is already looking like a very difficult season?
• With the undoubted quality of the Arsenal midfield?
• With the controversy arising from the Altidore/Sagna/Atkinson situation?
• With Di Canio being sent off?

It’s a tricky one!

The team selection came first so let’s have a look at that. Arsenal lined up with 5 international midfielders – Walcott, Ozil, Flamini, Wilshere and Ramsey, with four of them playing in the centre and only Walcott wide. We lined up with Vaughan and Ki in our middle with Mavrias and Johnson out wide. It came as no surprise that the Arsenal 4 completely bossed the midfield for the first 45 minutes as our two ran around trying to get the ball. Neither of them are tacklers and they were easily swept aside by players who were far better than they were.

We played two up front, which looks like a luxury if the midfield cannot get hold of the ball. It’s good to attack, but I can’t think of many teams who play two orthodox centre forwards as we did. It could be argued (and it’s a good point) that Arsenal were weak in the middle of the back four, with Sagna and Koscielny not the strongest combination. They had difficulties when we got the ball up to Fletcher and Altidore, but we saw so little of the ball in the first half that they were looking for scraps. Di Canio clearly wants to play football and the pedestrianism of the last two years is much less in evidence. But we need some steel in there as well in order to win the ball and spread it wide to our wingers. Vaughan and Ki cannot do that job.

As a result, a very good Arsenal side were made to look even better. After we made a decent start, they woke up, yawned, scratched themselves and went down and scored, with Ozil playing a delightful pass to Giroud who swept it home. A goal of the highest quality which started with Altidore losing the ball in their penalty area and finished with Westwood picking the ball out of the net.

Westwood kept us in the game in the first half, making three outstanding saves, while Walcott dithered over whether to head the ball or side foot it in and ended up doing neither. He had a disappointing game despite Colback and Mavrias giving him plenty of space.

Despite all their possession, we almost equalised when Diakite (a much improved performance from him) hit the bar with a header and Altidore forced a good save out of Szczesny. However, there was a feeling at half time that this could get bloody unless we improved.

Jake says it's good to have you back
Jake says it’s good to have you back
And improve we did. Gardner came on to put a bit of bite into midfield and within three minutes he was slamming home a penalty after Koscielny had brought down Johnson. A clumsy and needless challenge from the Frenchman as Johnson was heading away from goal, but it got us into the game, stirred the crowd and for a while Arsenal lost focus. Gardner is a consummate penalty taker and also a consummate collector of yellow cards and he got one a couple of minutes later, but at least he was tackling and harrying and the Super 3 of Ozil, Wilshere (still not convinced by him) and Ramsey looked distinctly rattled.

We had a goal disallowed for offside and at the 65th minute stage, we looked the likeliest winners. Then, our energy levels dropped a wee bit and they got back into it. We failed to mark Jenkinson, who received a short corner from Ozil, he looked up and picked out an unmarked Ramsey who scored with a cracking volley.

Now we come to the controversial bit. This one will take up acres of newsprint and will be done to death on radio and TV. So, let’s be short and sweet about it and say that Martin Atkinson was wrong, wrong, wrong on both counts. First of all, he should have waited a few seconds before giving the foul by Sagna on Altidore. He didn’t but having given it, he then had to send the Arsenal man off as he had clearly prevented a goal scoring opportunity. He didn’t. The assessor may well be having words with him after two very poor interpretations of the spirit of the game and the rules. As a result, he may well be appearing at Scunthorpe or Accrington next week.

There was enough time for Ozil to set up another good goal for the very impressive Ramsey and for our manager to get himself sent off after Atkinson inexplicably allowed Giroud to leave the pitch at the half way line rather than go off behind the goal. Make it Frickley Athletic or Bradford PA next week.

There was a sense of frustration and disappointment as we left, after warm and genuine applause for the players who had done very well in the second half. But the first half was a worry and the team selection was, once again, difficult to fathom. We really cannot start as badly as we have done for the last two games and rely on substitutions to get us back into the game. Chasing the game is difficult for the best sides, never mind one in transition as we are.

Next week at West Brom is as important a game as Di Canio has had at Sunderland. We need a win as points have to be picked up at the clubs who will be around us and we have already dropped seven to Palace, Fulham and Southampton. Albion scored their first goal late on at Fulham and will be looking to start their season. We must get ours under way, or I can see another disastrous campaign stretching out before us.

At least Durham won the cricket!!!


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Le Parole di Paolo – Sunderland 1 Arsenal 3: Paolo stays positive!

Jake's Italian job
Jake’s Italian job

Malcolm Dawson writes….there was a mixture of heart led optimism and head led resignation at our pre match Salut contributors’ congress. The realistic view was that Paolo’s work in progress needed more time to generate positive results against teams like Arsenal but hey we’re Sunderland so we have to hope for the unlikely. In the ground the talking point again was where is Cabral, once again not in the first XI and even more puzzling not on the bench. What we saw was the same mixture of good and bad that we had witnessed against Fulham. Refereeing decisions apart, Paolo sees progress in his post match e-mail to M Salut. We’ll give him time but the club must have a hundred of these “we played well but lost” messages.

Dear Colin,

I am happy – not with the result but with the way we tried to come back into the game. In the second half we dominated for half an hour and deserved to stay on top, but it didn’t happen. I didn’t enjoy the first half too much. We were shy which I don’t like, even against the top sides in the world, but it can happen. That was the first real game for Mavrias and Ki, while it was Fletcher and Altidore’s first time playing together.

In the second half we didn’t look like a side which is a work in progress. We dominated for half an hour and created situations to go 2-1 up, but it didn’t happen and the energy was gone. Against Arsenal you can pay the price and their second goal was fantastic. Keiren [Westwood] was crucial to keep us in the game in the first half.

Jake has that sinking feeling
Jake has that sinking feeling

We lost distance, we were shy and didn’t pressure their players at the right times. They [Arsenal] have great ability individually and keep the ball well. In the second half we created chances for us to stay in the game, complete the comeback and maybe go ahead, but it didn’t happen.

All the best,

Paolo Di Canio



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