OK, I try to be a generous soul. I let people in ahead of me in traffic, help around the house and give to good causes even when feeling skint. Even so, there are limits. No explanation is needed for all the marks of four or five out of 10 I gave Sunderland players, in today’s Observer, after the debacle of Stamford Bridge. They were for men who are not yet/not currently or never will be good enough. But how one earth did I conjure a couple of sixes? …
But first let us allow a Chelsea fan to speak::
Trizia Fiorellino, Chelsea Supporters Club –
We could have had ten or twelve goals – they were absolutely awful. Anelka was outstanding and it seems Carlo now knows that the diamond is not the only system to play. We played more free-flowing football in the style of when Hiddink was manager, with Ashley Cole coming down the wing and putting in crosses in the first half and Zhirkov in the second half. The players passed better and all seem to be of the same mindset. Zhirkov, Ashley Cole and Belletti were standouts.
The fan’s player ratings:
Cech 7; Ivanovic 8, Carvalho 8, Terry 8 (Alex ht 7), A Cole 9 (Zhirkov ht 9); Ballack 7, Belletti 9, Lampard 8; J Cole 7, Anelka 10, Malouda 8
And now mine:
Colin Randall, salutsunderland.com
In case Steve Bruce didn’t catch it, the chant from the away end at 6-1 was “we want our money back”. I’ve known embarrassment as a Sunderland supporter, but barring the consolation goals this was utter humiliation. If Bruce doesn’t learn from it, we are back in a relegation scrap. Our midfield and back four were feeble. Chelsea did everything they wanted on every inch of the pitch. The only reason we got two and they didn’t get nine was that Chelsea probably got bored.
The fan’s player ratings:
Fulop 5; Bardsley 5, Cana 5, Da Silva 5, McCartney 5; Malbranque 6 (Zenden ht 6), Henderson 5, Meyler 5, Murphy 4 (Campbell 72 5); Bent 5, Jones 4
“Oh dear,” said The Observer’s sports editor, knowing i had not done the fan’s verdict for him before. “What a debut.”
Six out of 10 for Cana, Zenden Malbranque? I just felt their disgrace was less complete:
Cana lacked leadership and is not a natural centre-back. But he was there in extremis and made at least four heroic lunges that stopped the score reaching double figures – which would scarcely have flattered Chelsea.
Malbranque was, as another Sunderland fan has observed elsewhere, AWOL from the defensive duties that should have been part of his role and played only for the first half. But he also produced the only pieces of Premier-standard skill that we saw from the team. And Zenden came on and somehow produced a goal.
That’s it. And that, as Pete Sixsmith has said in a gentle rebuke this morning, is altogether too kind.