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.
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.
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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