Man to man marking after another wasted opportunity (1)

The Blackcats forum achieves a consistently high standard of debate on the ups and – more commonly – downs of supporting Sunderland. After yet another disappointing failure to turn possession and long periods of ascendancy into results, ANDY NICHOL* offered this candid man-to-man assessment…….the marks out of 10 are Salut! Sunderland’s

So, so frustrating to watch. We took the pace out of the game very effectively and stopped Citeh from playing.

……but when we had the chance to inject pace of our own we were embarrasingly lacking. We had several golden opportunites to play killer balls/put players in on goal but Stokes, Etuhu and Jones (that I can remember) were all guilty of a worrying lack of vision/speed of thought.

And they’re not alone – while we seem comfortable knocking the ball around in slow motion, it’ll take much much more if we’re to have any chance of climbing this league.

My assessments:
Gordon

Nothing to do, couldn’t be faulted for the goal….6

Nosworthy

I may even have had him as our man of the match before he let Vassell dance around him for their goal. Yet again, one lapse and 70 minutes good work is undone….6

Harte

Encouraging. His early delivery from set plays was good although we’d dragged him down to our level by the end. One of very few positives from the evening though….6

Collins & Higginbotham

Did all that could be asked of them. I was particularly pleased for Collins after his howler that led to Samaras scoring last time we were here….6 apiece

Leadbitter

Workmanlike but nothing more. Lacks the pace to be effective on the wing….7

Etuhu

Did a lot of good work defensively but very little good work “offensively” – so slow and ponderous when in possession and lacks the vision one expects from a Premiership midfielder….5

Miller

Pretty anonymous. There are times when he looks the part – comfortable on the ball, neat first touch, runs with his head up etc etc – but in the end he delivers very little….5

Murphy

Anonymous. Setanta’s statistician summed him up by stating that he had the fewest touches of any outfield player (19) at the time of his substitution. There was one moment in the first half when he was ball-watching and Ireland was nearly put through on goal. I’ve never rated him, now he just plain annoys me….4

Jones

I thought he was poor and was well marshalled by Dunne all evening. I hope he isn’t starting to believe the hype. Had two really good chances to get on the end of good crosses (one from Harte, one from Wallace) but lacked conviction. The former, from a set piece, had Keane shouting “Attack it” in despair as the ball was allowed to pass harmlessly through to the keeper….5

Stokes

Disappointing – when given the chance to pass or shoot, he always seems to make the wrong decision. Should have done better with his early header. Tick tock….5

Wallace

Made a difference when he came on and we started to look a threat
until the goal knocked us back us and gave them something to defend. Should
he have been back marking Ireland? Dunno, but Murphy wouldn’t have been
either….6

Chopra

Ran around a lot but to little effect. There’s something about him that doesn’t look quite right – he appears awkward/uncoordinated in possession….4

Finally, would like to have seen us use our third substitution. Surely Connolly deserved 10 minutes at the end, particularly when they took Elano off and replaced him with a full back! All in all, another reality check but pretty much in keeping with what I’ve been saying for weeks.

** Salut! Sunderland‘s verdict differs little from Andy’s…….we’d have been less harsh on Leadbitter, whose workrate and urgency, from sweeping up at the back to trying at least to carve out dangerous positions up front, made him our top man. Agreed on Nosworthy – excellent game except at the moment when it most mattered, though let us not forget that he was beaten by one of the night’s rare pieces of eye-catching skill. Harte’s overall performance was marred by those dreadful dead balls in quick succession (free kick and corner) at the end.

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