Sunderland AFC please take note. If as loyal and long-standing and (sitting) a fan as Pete Sixsmith is beginning to cry ‘enough is enough’, something’s up. This is how Sixer saw the rotten collective surrender to QPR, complete with a literary allusion to ‘lives of quiet desperation’. Go to the home page – salutsunderland.com and navigate your way to the earlier Masochism pieces – …
In the course of a highly convivial day in Manchester on Monday (I strongly recommend The Marble Arch and The Hare and Hounds on Rochdale Road), one of the party, a Sunderland supporter who, like me, was saddened at the news of the death of Nicky Sharkey, said, in all seriousness that were he a betting man, he would put money on Sunderland to lose the next night.
I, of course, pooh-poohed the idea, believing that we had turned the corner, that the light at the end of the tunnel was getting closer and that, – cliché of all clichés – we would not shoot ourselves in the foot.
It turned out that round the corner was a bloody great man trap, that the light at the end of tunnel was the light of an oncoming train and that both feet were comprehensively blasted to kingdom come.
Make no mistake, this was awful, a performance so poor and lifeless that I have serious doubts about this team’s ability to drag itself away from the bottom three. Even if they do, I have even graver doubts about whether I will renew my season ticket next year.
The victory over Burnley was largely due to the fact that we took the game to them, attacked them down the flanks and stifled them – typical of what many Championship clubs do. Burnley couldn’t deal with it and we ended up as (relatively) comfortable winners.
The win at Fulham (another Championship side) was achieved the same way – create a tempo, go at them and show that we had a greater quality than they had.
What do we do against a QPR side who looked relieved to be playing for a proper coach instead of an old has been who bickers with his players? We start at a tempo that would have shocked a group of pensioners playing walking football, so slow and ponderous was it.
Add to that, a complete inability from a number of players to tell the difference between red and white stripes and blue and white hoops, and between red and white stripes and an open patch of green space, and you have the reasons for this catastrophic defeat.
It is catastrophic because the crowd signalled in the first half that they are about to give up on Poyet, certain players and Sunderland AFC. When yet another “pass” from the wretched Gomez went astray or when van Aanholt showed exactly why Chelsea loaned him to approximately half the clubs in Europe, the howls of derision were clearly heard all over the Stadium of Light.
When nobody picked up the impressive Leroy Fer for the opening goal or Vergini was suckered by Bobby Zamora for the second, there was a gasp of incredulity followed by a moan that was definitely not one of pleasure.
The team ethic on display was nowhere near enough and paled into insignificance compared with the effort and quality that Rangers had. Nico Kranjcar was the antithesis of Gomez in that he never wasted a ball all night. Pantomime villain Joey Barton made Bridcutt look the average Championship player that he is and Karl Henry gave a perfect display of how to be neat and tidy.
Poyet has said that Rob Green was their man of the match, indicating that we had chances to win the game. What a load of baloney. Rangers hit the post and missed a great headed opportunity and should well have wrapped the game up before they actually did. And goalkeepers are paid to save possible goals.
What was Wickham’s role? Neither fish nor fowl, this 21 year old with the same background and physique as Harry Kane but without one iota of the desire, seemed to have little idea of where he was playing. He should have buried a header to equalise, but was dominated by Caulker and a creaking Rio Ferdinand, who coasted through the game.
Was it up front with Defoe so that he could torture Caulker as he had last season when he scored twice against Cardiff, or was it out wide as part of a fluid five man midfield and to give van Aanholt some help. Answers on a postcard please as I have no idea of what he was supposed to be doing – and neither did the player by the looks of it.
As miserable and as wretched a performance as I have seen in 50 years was encapsulated towards the end when Bobby Zamora, a man in his 30s, overweight and with the turning circle of an oil tanker, outstripped Bridcutt in a race for the ball. It was enough to make grown men and women weep.
The American writer and philosopher Henry D Thoreau said “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”. He must have known what it was like to be a Sunderland supporter. The quiet desperation gets worse season after season.
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