Birflatt Boy: can we have Stoke City’s squad back again?

Steve Bruce has been around football long enough to realise why people are calling for his head today. Some have been questioning his survival as manager for a little while. It goes without saying that anyone who disagrees- Martin in Canada? – should contact Salut! Sunderland, which will find room for the opposing view. But our shadily cantakerous Birflatt Boy is no mood to grant a reprieve. It is hard-hitting, maybe harsh stuff and M Salut would take issue here and there. But these are parlous times for SAFC; supporters now seeing yet another the season unravel can hardly be blamed for feeling aggrieved …

How many more nails to close this coffin?

Football managers can make some horrible decisions. Selling or buying players in transfer deals that should never have seen the light of day, dropping key men in vital games, getting tactics hopelessly wrong (if they ever had any tactics at all) and usually ringing up a series of poor results.

In our case, this combination of shortcomings and blunders has led to relegation on more occasions than people of a certain age can remember without wincing.

Maybe there is more scrutiny of managerial decisions these days with a broader media spotlight on what goes on at a club. Be that as it may, we – Sunderland AFC- now reside a few places and a few points above the relegation trap door.

Four points accumulated out of a possible 33 (and three of them against hapless Wigan) tells a sorry tale.

In his MOTD interview last weekend Steve Bruce suggested that there was a need for an inquiry into the number and severity of soft tissue injuries that has hampered Sunderland’s season. Only seven players have completed 60 per cent of games. Week after week we are losing a couple of players in the first 20 minutes of games due to hamstring pulls and other strains. The severity and recurrence of these problems is surely not merely the result of ill fortune.

Players such as Campbell, Meyler, Mensah, Welbeck etc have all been brought back from injury dangerously too soon. Players have been sold and not replaced. Not just this season but for the whole of his tenure. Danny Collins has never been replaced despite the fact that Bruce claimed to have only sold him in the firm belief that Maynor Figueroa was on his way in. That was two years ago.

Kenwyne Jones and Darren Bent’s departures fall are of a similar stripe. We were short, Bent went and no replacement was acquired. Campbell comes back too early and now his career seems to be in the balance. Going into the last three games of the season without the injured Gyan, Welbeck, and Campbell, you would think that the only fit striker at the club, Ryan Noble would have been kept at home in the confines of bubble wrap wouldn’t you? That’s what most managers would do. Not Steve Bruce. Noble gets to play in a meaningless midweek fixture and gets an ankle injury.

We start against Fulham with Steed Malbranque and Stéphane Sessegnon up front. Sessegnon has played there, but Malbranque hasn’t found the net for years and has an appalling goals tally for a midfield player. An inability to shoot is a hurdle for a forward player and it’s a higher hurdle for Steed than most.

The result, of course, was that we didn’t score. Steed was not helped by the supply of the “Egyptian Beckham,” a player who has failed to produce any service of note from the right flank all season but invariably gets a game ahead of a man with the best cv of any outfield player currently at the club; Bolo Zenden.

Elmo is still a loanee, and we can only hope that his stay is short and that he never becomes a Sunderland player. He is quite simply hopeless, and there is nothing else that needs saying about him.

The other loanees such as Muntari, Onouha, and Welbeck have no vested interest of SAFC. Whilst it may be the case that all footballers are mercenaries these days, that epithet is even more appropriate for loaned players. Muntari’s contribution to our cause has been so lamentable that he should be sent packing this week. A talented player who has turned up to take the money and is quite happy to embarrass himself through his own indolence.

We have had other managers who have started brightly and then been found wanting. There are few who can come close to the complete meltdown at all levels under Bruce. It is incompetence and witlessness of the first order. He has complained about injuries and their recurrence, yet it at his insistence that players have been brought back when clearly unfit. It is a disservice to the club, and a risk to the long term well being of several players. It goes beyond poor management.

Despite spending unprecedented sums on building his squad, we only own half the team that is losing every week. He now says that we need eight players for next season!

Quite how much money has been wasted on the likes of Da Silva, Riveros and Angeleri we may never know. I look at Stoke’s position in the table and wonder why it is that a side that regularly contains Whithead, Sorensen, Delap, Jones,Collins and Higginbotham is outperforming the team that has been “improved” under the stewardship of Bruce and Black.

Bruce’s “management” is a catalogue of poor judgement, incompetence and gross stupidity. I rather doubt whether a man responsible for a run like we’ve had would still be in a job at any other club. A 3-0 defeat to Fulham; a side that travels about as well as Newcastle Exhibition is the last straw.

Bruce is right of course. We need at least eight players. All we can hope is that he will no longer be responsible for signing them.

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29 thoughts on “Birflatt Boy: can we have Stoke City’s squad back again?”

  1. Mr Spacey. I think that what you say is the whole point. I don’t know where you get the idea that Collins wanted to be off. He was sold because Bruce thought it was a good offer.

    The point is that they are above Sunderland in the league with what you may describe as inferior players. Their league position and as Cup Finalists means that they are superior players and a better team.

    As for Delap; no we never once saw a long throw, but this weapon has been used to good effect for the Potters. Granted that he was sold by Keane and not Bruce, but the sentiment behind the article was really intended to illustrate the difference between our own Steve Bruce who sold these players, spent a lot of money on replacements who were not as good as our position in the league clearly illustrates. These players are doing better than they did for us. That is the whole point you see!

  2. Wait a sec! I agree with Stoke position in the league, there is no way they should be above Sunderland. Sorenson was sold when we went down and the club needed to sell off players to try get some cash back in the club, Kenwyne Jones hadn’t played well since Cisse come in loan beside Campbell, when he was fit was 10 time better player, Dino wanted to leave but we got Cattermole who is a lot stronger central midfield player and not scared to put a foot in and yes I know he get booked, but some of his bookings have been laughable, Delap please tell 3 good games he had for Sunderland and a another thing find one long throw in the Sunderland achives (not going to happen), Collins wanted to leave to join Dino and Higginbotham are they really missing him at the moment maybe with injures we have had.

  3. When the likes of Whitehead, Collins and Jones were sold there were mixed reactions. Delap rarely played for us but I thought he was sold impetuously by Keane. He could have been a decent player for us. Collins was well liked. Not the most talented player but loved the club and worked really hard to improve his game. Got moved around the back four in the same way.

    Jones; you said it. We’ve seen it too. Unplayable when he’s up for it, but not that often. He seems to have got his act together recently and credit to him for that. I’ve seen him put some stinkers in for both clubs. Higginbottom was so so for us and nobody really shed a tear when he left. I was disappointed in the reaction and disrespect that some of our fans displayed towards DW when he left. Always tried hard and was a loyal servant. I always liked him even though in the later stage of his time with us he had clearly lost the spring in his step. He’s got a great work rate and attitude to the game. I think we all expected that Ellis Short’s money was going to improve our midfield. Results and performances show that it hasn’t. We create little and DW used to get on the score sheet a few times each season. Sorensen (better keeper than Begovic to my mind).

    I must be honest and say that I don’t really like the way that Stoke often play but I have a huge respect for the way that Tony Pulis can get the best out of players that are either moderate or need to have their careers rejuvenated. I haven’t got a clue what he sees in Walters mind, but Pennant and Etherington have been revelations. What you’ve got there is the evidence of a good man manager, and credit to him.

    I hope you win the FA Cup aswell. Best of luck against the money men! Thanks for posting Potter Pistol.

    If we had got Fuller from you in Jan we might not have had quite the bad run that we have experienced either!

  4. Alright – I hear you – I’ll try to be less bruising. It’s never intended maliciously though. And for the record, my limitations are endless.

  5. Here’s my review of our ex-Mackems.

    Collins- Gets more stick than he deserves, think he’d be a good CB, but gets played Left, prone to the odd mistake, but it always seems to be one we get punished for.

    Higginbotham- Good defender, decent distribution and gets about down the left, he’s my first choice for LB, but age is starting to show.

    Delap- A lot better player than he’s given credit for, got the throw ins, he’s mega fit, reads the game, marks well, never gives up. Quite often prone to rushing, resulting in some embarrassing miskicks and awful passes.

    Whitehead- Great player, had a slow start for us but has won over alot of fans with his work rate. Doesn’t really have a stand out skill, but is a good solid midfielder.

    Jones- Brilliant on his day, had a cracking start for us and then dropped off, a lot of fans turned on him, (myself included) there were times when we might as well been playing with 10 men, but there was talk in the papers he’s had trouble at home, apparently he’s happy now, and the goals are starting to flow again.

    Sorenson- It’s a shame he hasn’t played much this season, I think it’s only because Begovic is a prospect for the future. Pretty sure Tommy will be between the sticks for the FA cup Final.

    We are lucky that Pulis and co are so good at spotting these “reject” players and turning them round, it’s not just ex-Sunderland. Look at Pennant, Etherington, Fuller, Beattie. Only complaint I’ve got is he signed that useless lump Kitson and didn’t have a clue what to do with Tuncay.

  6. I think the reality Martin, is that one man’s passion is a another man’s worry and frustration at our plight. I was fully behind Steve Bruce. He appeared to have things under control and had us heading in the right direction. In retrospect I think that he got very lucky signing Bent when he did, and Bent’s reasons for leaving if we give him the benefit of the doubt for a moment, have been shown to bear some weight.

    The poll (if we can call it that) on n0t606 seems to be very much in support of Bruce, although I’m not convinced that it’s from a representative sample.

    Abruptness in emails frequently comes from the limitations of the sender. I know that to be true from experience. It’s not abruptness that’s the problem though Martin; it’s just resorting to name calling. You can do better than that, because I’ve seen that from your posts. I don’t think that Birflatt Boy has insulted you etc. So why is there the need to resort to it on your part? Your posts are a lot better without it man!

  7. Jeremy, I’ll be honest, since our initial scraps I developed a respect for your opinions, and your posts. I’m not blowing smoke up your bum – I’m just being honest. I also respect your last post. However, I am a die hard Sunderland supporter and I like what I’ve seen under Steve Bruce. I am amazed at the response of so called fans, after the tragic luck he’s had with injuries. I can be a little abrupt, but that’s partly my lame attempt at humour, and because of my passion for the club. I will die with the same level, if not more! Davey aside, I am on my Jack Jones, and when you fight single handedly, in possession of the aforementioned passion, you have no option but to shout the loudest. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it! As for Birflatt Shakespear, I’ll reply later after I’ve watched the Canucks beat Nashville in round 2.

  8. The manager has lost it when the supporters start to turn on one another I reckon.

    I can’t see us getting anything at Bolton at the weekend. In fact I can see us getting a real hammering. If that should happen and it well could looking at how we are defending then the crowd will be after Steve Bruce’s blood at the Reebok.

    It’s all hot air wondering what will happen to him at the end of the season, and I suspect that regardless of results between now and the end of the season, Ellis Short will be wanting answers to some serious questions. A stuffing down in Lancashire may prevent there being a long drawn out saga which doesn’t help anybody.

    BTW Martin, I don’t think that you’ll win any argument just by shouting the loudest.

  9. I hope that the planned investigation in to the goings on at the SoL this season will be detailed and open to scrutiny by all. This will go some way to establishing the truth of some of the comments above.

    That things have gone badly wrong in the second half of the season is obvious, but can not be totally put down to the number of injuries we have suffered. They are a contributory factor, but the collapse of form/ self belief by the majority of the squad seams to indicate that there is a lot more going on than the queue at the treatment room.

    The investigation needs to come clean about Bent’s sale, training methods, players returning from injury and the policy regarding loan players. Additionally it should also list why Steve Bruce’s contract was extended. If we don’t (which looks increasingly likely) finnish in the top ten then SB has not met his targets. Before allowing Bruce to spend yet more money the (revised) targets for next season must be identified, together with the longer term goals and aims. Are we still in a consolidation period or are we looking for positive progress. What happens if the aims and goals are not met.

    A clear plan that can be monitored and followed by all supporters would allow a more informed supporter to gauge our position. Can’t see us ever getting this mind.

  10. Mr Martin. The purpose of a forum such as this is for discussion. The nature of such discourse is to engage in debate. As such there is a need for civility. Your tone as usual when you find yourself cornered without a rational argument is to engage in obsequious behaviour and name calling. People are not “turncoats” or whatever, simply because their opinions which are backed by salient points and evidence differ to your unwavering point of view which is claims that black is in fact white. The emperor’s garments have been jettisoned and he is standing naked before us.

    Steve Bruce seemed to be doing a good job earlier in the season, but I’m afraid that he isn’t doing a good job now. Peter Reid did a good job for several seasons and then lost the plot. Would you restore him based on his earlier record? I suspect that you possibly wouldn’t?

    You choose to ignore the points made with regard to his training methods and handling of injuries. There is considerable speculation that Mr Bruce’s approach to these matters played a not insignificant role in the departure of Pete Friar the physio last summer.

    The warnings that we had from Wigan and Birmingham fans should possibly have been heeded. Your affection and loyalty to Mr Bruce is no longer admirable; simply misplaced.

  11. Birflatt – You yourself have considerable company in this wilderness of blind faithless. Nice thesaurus-fuelled rant by the way. And a nice pychological profile on yours truly. Thanks for that. My Uncle Adolf would be so proud.

    Your U turn is staggering. Not 3 months ago you were singing the praises of Steve Bruce and joining me in his defence. Don’t you feel just a touch “phoney”?

    So – you would have played Knott or Noble up front. Who would you have played in defence – McCauley Culkin? How about Justin Beiber?

    Listen up young’un. He brought back players much sooner than he would have done because he had no alternatives. Everybody except Stan Cummings is injured. What don’t you understand about that? He took a gamble – after the players themselves declared themselves fit and ready for action. The guys down to the bare bones, and his back’s more against the wall than he has a right to. And your answer is to slaughter him. Dig the knife in deeper and twist it. Very commendable and courageous of you – I have to say. You have a cunning perception and you’re more informed than the rest of us regarding the club.

    For instance, if poor training methods are to blame, you have the evidence – right? If you’re going to ay something like that, you have got to provide the evidence. Obviously, you’ll quote all the injuries, but you know as well as I do, it’s just horrible bad luck. In todays game, after all the research that goes into it, there’s no way the players would be put at risk of injury due to inappropriate training methods. Come On!!!

    Like I said to the Governor – I wouldn’t categorise myself as a “staunch Bruce supporter”. I am as willing as everyone else to jump on the manager if he consistently gets it wrong, but this bloke gave us what we’ve rarely to never had before, a decent Premiership side that outplayed the very best teams. The bloke isn’t being given a fair chance – but that’s football fans for you. All I want to see is a squidgeon of objectivity, and a little regard to the terrible luck the guys had since January.
    If Bruce fails when he’s got a squad to pick from, I’ll be asking questions myself. This season has been as devastating as any in recent decades, but I think we should try to present a balanced viewpoint and not become archetypal angry fans, screaming for the managers head, when 3 short months ago most of us loved him.

    Let’s try to be a little supportive during the hard times. The lads got his heart in the right place, and he’s got undoubted ability. Everything that could have gone wrong has done. And the valliant Birflatt Boy is making things worse. Fact.

  12. There are serious questions to be asked about the reasons why SB’s teams fall into complete freefall in the second half of the season. There are also legitimate questions to ask about his decisions to not bring in a replacement strikers when needed, all of which is compounded by his inability to hold back players who haven’t recovered from injury, as well as risking both the only available replacements (Knott and Noble).

    Injuries or no injuries there is a trend here.

  13. Davey and Martin are keeping each other company in this wilderness of blind faith. Engaged in a Canute denial of the appalling collapse and capitulation week upon week. Birflatt will not waste time in repeating the now endless stream of evidence of Br Bruce’s mismanagement.

    Davey’s fatalism and unquestioning faith that all will is well, when clearly all is unwell never ceases to amaze me. Martin is slightly different engaging in what has become an increasingly Goebell’s position; ie “the greater the lie, the greater the truth.”

    You refer to the “bad fortune that he has suffered.” Birflatt’s perception of events is simply that Mr Bruce has authored his own most spectacular downfall through poor training methods, and having players return too soon. Both irresponsible as well as dangerous.

    Who would I have played up front you ask Martin? Knott or Noble; neither of whom would have injured themselves due to their involvement in a meaningless Youth encounter midweek.

    The time for Messrs Bruce and Black is up.

  14. Martin:
    I have made repeated allowance for injuries and other factors and have also stuck to my guns in says=ing judgement should be passed at the end of the season.

    Where do you detect disloyalty in this?

    Steve Bruce has been around football long enough to realise why people are calling for his head today. Some have been questioning his survival as manager for a little while. It goes without saying that anyone who disagrees- Martin in Canada? – should contact Salut! Sunderland, which will find room for the opposing view. But our shadily cantakerous Birflatt Boy is no mood to grant a reprieve. It is hard-hitting, maybe harsh stuff and M Salut would take issue here and there. But these are parlous times for SAFC; supporters now seeing yet another the season unravel can hardly be blamed for feeling aggrieved …

    Oh, and I join Martin in praising Davey’s welcome post, though not in the terms Martin chooses! I don’t actually think we would have been as pleased as he thinks with 41 points as now, but all won after game 10, but it’s good to have balance.

  15. I despair! Who would you have played up front Mr Birflatt?
    That’s right – we should let Muntari go now – and give you yet more grounds to slander Bruce.

    I find it quite unbelievable that nobody is willing to pay any significance to the bad fortune he’s suffered.

    I am severely outnumbered now and stand 100% alone in my view. Each and every one of you are “turncoats”. You respond positively to the positive and negatively to the negative. You have zero ability to discriminate. You refuse to contemplate that this injury ravaged squad is a result of dire misfortune. The same squad when fit was sitting in 6th and you hypochrites were gloating about Europe. But when the **** hits the fan, in true Henry VIII style, it’s “off with his head” without the merest hint of regard to circumstances.

    I wish I was a knee surgeon right now, because the amount of jerking that’s going around is reaching epidemic stage.

    Good move guys. You make me sick. You’re not supporters, you’re petulant pitch fork carriers with an intrinsic need to apportion blame. And who better than the guy who took us to 6th spot, and gave us the silkiest football we’ve ever seen at the club. What would mensa do without it’s Salut Sunderland contributors? And Colin – what a fine talisman you are to your club. What’s the motto here guys? Abandon the sinking ship, and blame the captain coz the crew got scurvy?

    Birflatt Boy – you’ve gone from being very pro Steve Bruce mid season – very supportive of him in your posts, to this. Hollering about tactics, loanees, Muntari – etc. He’s had little choice but to bring back players early from injury because of the depleted squad. He’s had to play players out of position because there’s nobody left but the cleaner. And if he played her, you’d whine that he didn’t play bus mechanic.

    Bruce will be sacked boys – don’t worry. Even someone with the integrity and intellegence of Niall Quinn has to hop to when it comes to ever growing numbers of bleeting sheep. Especially when it comes to season ticket sales and the likely impact of sulking stay-aways.

    My hope is this. I hope Steve is given one more season, and I hope that he shows you lot his rather large middle digit, builds on a squad with lots of potential (better than Stokes!!!!!) Then I’m going to send you all a pair of my shorts for kissing purposes.

  16. Oh dear , here we go again
    If your going to lay all of the blame on Bruce – then surely you need to share some onto Quinn and to a lesser extent Short.
    Let’s just get rid of the lot of them , then – and enjoy some of the brilliant freeflowing football we have enjoyed over the last 20 years !!!!!!!!!
    If we had started the season – 9 games or so without a win – then had a run which gave us 41 points with 3 games left to play – you would all be hailing Bruce as a genius , a tactical mastermind .
    It’s a crazy league this year – we have had unbelievable injuries – but I still maintain we have played some of the best football you have ever seen from a Sunderland side
    How on earth can you blame Bruce for Steed and Catts missing chances my gran could have put away !!!!!!!!

  17. Thanks Ryan, that’s a great contribution. I suppose most assessments were as I expected; we knew Collins was limited but he was so wholehearted, admittedly in a bad team, that he was an improbable fans’ favourite. I don’t think any Sunderland fan remembers getting a single dangerous long throw out of Delap but he has surely earned his wages for you on the basis of that ability alone.

    I am glad, for you, that Kenwyne has come good again and will always have a soft spot for Tommy, though it is hard to disagree about his kicking. Good luck for the final.

  18. Collins – In my opinion he is not good enough to play at this level. His marking is awful, and he is consistently beaten on the wing. I would have Higginbotham in the team any day.

    Whitehead – When he first came to Stoke, I wasn’t so sure about his ability. Now I believe he is one of the better players in the team. His work rate is out of this world, and this work rate makes up for the lack of quality of Delap. He has recently lost his place to Whelan, although I would prefer to have Whitehead & Whelan in the middle rather than Delap.

    Delap – Simply not good enough any more. With out the long throw he would struggle to start every week in the Championship, let alone the Prem. He has been a geat servant for the club, but we have moved on now, and so should delap.

    Sorensen – Quality goalkeeper. If I were the gaffer he would start every week. Better than Begovic, and consistently gives solid performances. The only thing that lets him down is his kicking.

    Higginbotham – Lacks quality on the ball, but his work rate and tough defending style make up for this. I would rather us sign another left back with more quality, but he gives his all, and unlike Collins he knows how to mark and tackle, which is quite crucial for defending.

    Jones – When he first came to Stoke, he looked average, scoring a few goals here and there and putting a shift in. Suddenly this all changed, he stopped working, didn’t chase anything, and had the worst control imaginable. He was at the that time (2/3months ago) one of the worst players I have ever seen wear a Stoke shirt. Now he is a completely different player,
    4 goals in 5 games, his work rate is now fantastic, he is strong, quick, and looks good on the ball, he looks unplayable!

  19. OK City fans – plenty of you are coming here, according to the newsnow.co.uk listings – what is your player-by-player assessment of the SAFC old boys now at the Britannia?

    Who deserves to play a part in the FA Cup final and who doesn’t?

  20. Bruce can’t use the sale of Bent as an excuse for the ineptitude of our defence since he (Bent) left, nor can he use this excuse for spineless displays against Everton, Man City, Newcastle(twice), West Brom, Notts County, and Fulham amongst others.
    Didn’t he sign his contract extension after Bent left?

  21. As Birflatt Boy’s posting soars to No 1 on the Stoke pages at newsnow.co.uk
    it is worth repeating this, from the This is Staffordshire news website about chants doing the rounds among Stoke fans:

    Dean Whitehead is the latest to be honoured. True, the former Oxford and Sunderland grafter is more used to dealing with central midfielders than ectoplasm, but several reporters were tapping their feet as fans belted out:

    “If there’s something strange, in the neighbourhood, who ya gonna call? DEAN WHITEHEAD!”

    Yep, I’m perplexed too.

  22. That’s a great post Mr Richards. even if you made me feel even worse by reminding me that he signed Andy Pandy for your club.

    It’s been a horrible few months that we’ve gone through. For whatever reason the wheels seem to come off after Christmas wherever he is in charge.

    When things go wrong he has proved himself completely incapable of turning things round (yet again!).

  23. The problem is that he’d need to do what seems utterly impossible and get seven or nine points from the remaining games just to salvage the season. It is likely to be a lot less than that and maybe none at all since no one can see exactly where our goals would come from, so we will yet again depend on other teams to lose enough to protect us. And yes, I’d love to have egg all over my face as I write about our marvellous backs-to-the-wall surge at Bolton and West Ham and at home to Wolves in between.
    But I do stick to my earlier statements that it would powerfully mitigate Bruce’s responsibility if the club stitched him up over Bent – ie Quinn and/or Short insisting on the gamble of cashing in without guaranteed replacement/s – and if, contrary to the suggestions above, he is largely blameless in the injuries.

  24. As a supporter of B’ham City I am familiar with most of the criticisms I am reading of Steve Bruce – nice bloke, whinger extraordinary, self-admitted no tactician, seller of Andrew Johnson & DJ Campbell(too small?), had Walter Padiani on loan for over 4 months & still paid out good money for him. He also didn’t want to understand why he should pay back “image” money which had been paid him for the season when he decided to leave early. As for Eric Black, he had one game in charge,dropped Maik Taylor(a very good keeper) for Richard “Flapper” Kingson,who let in 2 sloppy goals & we were relegated later on by 1 point. I think Bruce is a manager of clubs bigger than Accrington Stanley (no disrespect intended) only because he once played for Man U. IMO he is not very bright & is a very lucky man to have been given such a job as Sunderland’s.

  25. The knives are certainly out for Bruce this morning and no mistake. He has signed players permanently that have turned out to be of no use to the club. This had placed an enormous strain on the loan system which he has over relied on, and should not have done. A team can’t be built with loaned players and it’s ridiculous to think otherwise. He has signed more centre halves than you can shake a stick at yet doesn’t have a pairing that can be relied upon. Still we are missing a genuine left back.

    Yiannis makes a good point about the “plan,” or more specifically the absence of it. The goals largely came from the fact that players were doing the unpredictable. Henderson’s chesting of the ball which led to the goal was something of a fluke as it deceived defenders. Gyan actually got a ball in front of him that could be attacked with his head. Unprecedented during his time at Sunderland. The “plan” on Saturday was for Malbranque to play as a striker; a notion which borders on the insane. We beat Wigan because we didn’t know how we would play (so how could they?).

    The injury situation has continued to repeat itself, time after time, and I can not understand the decision to risk Ryan Noble in a midweek game of no importance either. Bruce’s judgement and management is so sadly lacking at all levels that it’s untrue. He has to go. I like the bloke. I think he seems like a canny fellah etc, but he’s been a disaster since the turn of the year.

  26. Stoke’s squad is better, in my view. Simple as that. And even if I’m wrong, it would speak volumes about the competing managerial qualities.

    But leave aside our spat with a few City fans after the bruising 3-2 defeat. I stand by the question posed here last week: take away Messi’s second goal and would you rather watch the cheating divers, ref-chasers and prima donnas of Real and Barca, and their awful managers, or a decent Premier team that scores loads of goals, embodies the English passion for the game, re-establishes itself in the top flight against all the odds and gets to the cup final? Anti-football? Maybe – and football would be rotten if it all looked like what went on in City 3 SAFC 2 – but I’d choose Stoke every time.

  27. Simple math for me… The best football we ‘ve played since January is the second half against Wigan (a two-man team). When did we play better? When (unfortunately) our last striker on the books got injured. To summarize it: everything went better when the “Plan” came out of the equasion. When the players did just what they thought was better or whatever they felt like to be honest and they score 3 goals! A week laterthe same 11 players come on the pitch with a so called “plan” and get thumped 3-0 at home…. worst home score since boxing day under Keane (and that was against a full strength Man Utd side).
    I’ve never left a match before the final whistle even at times when the team was losing 4-0 at halftime. But i don’t blame anyone who did it, as i did it for the first time to… and i ‘d travelled quite a bit to watch the “easter trio” of games.

    PS: Whitehead and Collins would have been stars in this team and that would probably be down to effort rather than skill.

    PS2: Anyone rethinking the January possibility of getting Carew or Philips in at the time?

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