Soft touches, or maybe just mugs. This is the result some of us have worried about for a while. Another tonking reminiscent of St James’ Park. Utter rubbish. And that was written with a few minutes to go. Blow the whistle ref, please! …
We’ve got used to awful starts this season.
They don’t come much worse than this one, with two goals conceded in 15 minutes with a minimum of effort needed from Man City, good as they can be.
The simplicity of the first goal from Adam Johnson, or rather the ease with which the chance was created, would give nightmares to any FA instructor on basic defending. Where was Phil Bardsley?
We know where he was for the penalty. And I do not fault Howard Webb for giving it. It was a late challenge, City made the most of it but no serious complaints.
Where I do fault Webb, a referee I respect, is that he really did set out his stall quite early with some highly questionable decisions. Fifty-fifty challenges seemed to end up with Man City free kicks; the booking of Mensah for a perfectly good, winning tackle was a disgrace.
He was, of course, blameless for our dreadful defending, abysmal final balls after good approach work and glaring lack – yet again -of creativity and confidence. And he had nothing, in general, to do with what turned into a hammering.
The heavy defeat that followed the early collapse was down to our inability to compete.
We didn’t, in truth, expect much out of today. We got nothing.
Look at the third goal. A reasonably promising forward move breaks down with a poor pass, made worse by a hopeless touch. Back comes the ball. Tevez crosses, there’s an unlucky deflection and it’s in the net.
Look even harder, if you can bear it, at Lee Cattermole’s idiotic backwards dance down the left wing before setting up the fifth with as inviting a cross into our own danger area as any City striker might have wanted.
This, after all the promise, is where we are. We love Sunderland, that’s a given. We want success. We’d settle for honest defeats if there were also evidence of shape, passion, cohesion, a grip on any part of the pitch. You looked, today, in vain.
Maybe we’ll bounce back with the supposedly easy games to follow. Maybe we’d better.