Oh for the optimism of youth. Keir Bradwell took it in spades from the performance he witnessed against Liverpool. With Pete Sixsmith’s must-read matchday report still to come, here’s how a lad not yet 14 assessed the Sunderland players’ efforts …
Liverpool 2 – 1 Sunderland Player Ratings
That was the most oddly satisfying defeat I think I’ve ever seen! I was thoroughly impressed by the players on the pitch who did themselves credit with the desire they showed. Bear in mind that even though we lost today, it was only by a goal, to a team that scores on average three or four a game.
Vito Mannone: 6
I’d argue he could’ve done a lot better with organising his wall and his positioning for their first goal, but other than that, he dealt excellently with the very strong Liverpool attack. Not his best game, but a good one nonetheless.
Phil Bardsley: 7
Finally, Bardsley showed the spirit and effort that he’d been lacking in recent weeks. Attacking with full force, he defended brilliantly, striding up and down the right hand side all game. Was excellent on the crosses, too.
John O’Shea: 7
O’Shea also really impressed me tonight. He showed good leadership qualities in keeping spirits high, as well as being brilliant in defence against Suarez and Sturridge. Another hugely improved performance on his other ones recently.
Santiago Vergini: 1
Some players are described as “liabilities”. Some even have reputations of being “car crashes” or “train wrecks”. However, neither of these can adequately describe Santiago Vergini. Instead, I would describe him as the centre-back version of a 1666, Great Fire of London on the Titanic, only with Guy Fawkes on board, and with nobody to stop him. He should’ve been sent off twice, and he nearly scored an own-goal. It was hilarious, and terrifying at the same time.
Wes Brown: 7
Also brilliant, Brown stopped many Liverpool counter-attacks, particularly in the second half, and made a very positive defensive contribution in the first, sitting deep along with almost everyone else.
Andrea Dossena: 6
I feared the absolute, absolute, worst, when I saw that he was starting. He did, however, do quite well. He didn’t blow me away, his crossing was poor and he couldn’t throw a ball from the side of the pitch, but he was much better than I expected.
Liam Bridcutt: 7.5
Originally my Man of the Match, Bridcutt was fantastic all over the pitch, turning away with flair from being dispossessed in midfield, and generally giving Sunderland a much-needed link between attack and defence. He lost Man of the Match due to Ki, and also some sloppiness towards the end.
Lee Cattermole: 6
I have absolutely no idea how he didn’t score to take the game to 2-1. He hit the bar with the most glorious outside of the foot shot you’ll ever see. I was visibly devastated for him. Other than that, he looked absolutely knackered and was, I’d argue, at fault for the first goal by giving the ball away. In the second half, however, he improved massively, which earns him a 6.
Emanuele Giaccherini: 5
I really like Giaccherini, but today he hardly influenced the game at all. I really would’ve hoped for more but he still made useful small contributions when he could.
Jozy Altidore: 4
A frustrating performance by Altidore today (there’s a surprise). He failed to achieve much at any point, but still was evidently a nuisance to their defence, even if with the ball he achieved almost nothing.
Connor Wickham: 5
Not the best from Wickham, as he squandered many chances over the course of the game, until he was taken off for Johnson, which noticeably improved our performance. I gave him the extra mark over Altidore as he’s only just returned from Leeds and had hardly trained with the squad at all before being thrown into the 11.
Adam Johnson: 7
I don’t usually give substitutes high marks because they’re not on the pitch for long, but today Ki and Johnson were fantastic. Johnson was very direct and forceful in attack and gave me immense confidence (mind you, I’m always quite confident, compared to a lot of you…) for the future.
Ki Sung-Yueng: 8 (MotM)
Man of the Match only because it’s been such a long time for two things to happen:
1) Sunderland to score a goal and;
2) Sunderland to score a diving header.
Now, I know you could argue Ki’s goal wasn’t a diving header, but I’d like to disagree with you, because I have waited a long time for this, and I’ll be really disappointed if nobody else thinks it was.
Other than that he was excellent in possession and finally looked like the Ki of earlier in the season.
Jack Colback: 6
Didn’t really have time to do anything.