Cabral’s acquisition was one even Paolo Di Canio was thrilled by. A player of Champions League pedigree, he played well when given early spells of action but was abruptly dropped. Then he may as well have disappeared from Wearside, never to return. Now, Gus Poyet has made some utterly mystifying comments of his own without getting close to explaining why Cabral cannot get into a team he claims to have to pick from threadbare resources. Can Pete Sixsmith get to the bottom of it? …
There is a famous cartoon character from the First World War called Old Bill.
Drawn by a front line officer, Bruce Bairnsfather, Old Bill was a phlegmatic character who always looked for the best in what was a pretty grim existence.
The best known cartoon shows Bill in a shell hole up to his neck in muck and bullets (thank you Arthur Haynes for that line), with his companion, Alf, complaining.
Bill’s response to this is: “Well, if you know a better shell hole, you go and find it.”
I am sure that Adison Tavares Varela, better known as Cabral has never heard of Old Bill, but his situation at Sunderland is slightly akin to that of the walrus moustachioed stoic so admired by those in the front line 100 years ago.
Like Old Bill, he finds himself in a difficult situation. Despite winning 5 Swiss Super League and three Swiss Cup medals, he finds himself in a shell hole at Sunderland which he cannot get out of.
As shell holes go, it is a fairly comfortable one and there are only verbal bullets being fired at him but he seems incapable of finding a resting place for his footballing talents.
Genoa borrowed him last season and said “Thanks, but no thanks”, there were stories that he was looking for a loan move to the Championship – Blackpool were mentioned at one stage – and the Russian transfer window will soon be open.
But why would he want to leave Sunderland? He has a three-year contract, will be on good money and has excellent training facilities and, presumably, a good life style.
What he has not got is regular first team football.
He played in last season’s opener, that desperately disappointing 1-0 defeat to Fulham, and since then has not been seen. Di Canio dumped him very quickly and Gus Poyet has not exactly embraced him or even given him an opportunity to impress.
He was on the bench at Southampton and appears to be on the fringe of a team that is struggling, but what are we to make of the manager’s rather enigmatic conversation about him with Chris Young of the Sunderland Echo?
“He’s a great lad and a great professional,” suggests that Poyet likes his personality and his attitude. “He has asked to play for the Reserves” ditto.
But then he says “I’m making the decisions and he is not playing” and suggesting that even if he is asking to play for the 21s, “that doesn’t mean that he is going to play“ (presumably for the first team).
On the couple of occasions I have seen him, he has worked hard and is a kind of father figure for the youngsters in the Under 21 squad. When Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury clattered into Charis Mavrias, Cabral was straight in there grabbing the perpetrator warmly by the throat and telling him in no uncertain terms that he should be a little more careful in the future.
He can play football, but whether the hurly-burly of the Premier League is for him, who knows. Gus is reluctant to use him and that may well continue until the next transfer window opens and some club somewhere in the world can be persuaded by his agent to take him on.
Whether his next shell hole will be as comfortable as the one he is in at Cleadon remains to be seen.
And don’t get me on about Danny Graham!!!
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