Out of Africa: a Chelsea view of Sunderland’s plight – and escape exit

Grant James doesn't support Sunderland, but makes up for that with knowledge and understanding


News, with great conscientiousness,
from afar. It’s over, to adapt the relatively recent colloquialism, once the fat lady has sung.

Monsieur Salut, even at the safe distance of the Tozeur oasis in south-western Tunisia, knows better than to accuse Salut! Sunderland‘s star writer of resembling a fat lady. But Sixer has most definitely sung on the issue of O’Neill One Year On so the series cannot be reopened for anyone, least of all someone who does not even support our club. Even so – as Jeremy Robson has noted at Football Analysis*, the site of a South African supporter of Chelsea, Grant James – this is a superb assessment. It therefore merits a slot and a plug …

I promised Grant a link to his site and it would therefore be wrong to run the whole piece here. Even long extracts would be a breach of inter-site etiquette.

But let me whet appetites with the following two samples from an article Grant introduces with the thought that while most Sunderland supporters remain pro-O’Neill, some explanation is required for that quite shameful statistic: just two wins in the last 22 Premier League games:

Jake as Tony Roffe's caption writer

[O’Neill’s] start could not have been better – an incredible run of 22 points from his first 10 league games in charge, shot the team up to 33 points and put the club on the verge of Premier League safety with 14 games still to go in the season.

What exactly was he doing differently to Bruce? Not all that much. His general tactical plan was to sit very deep, cede possession completely and invite opponents on to them. The side would break quickly through James McClean – a revelation after being given a regular chance by O’Neill – and Sessegnon. Larsson’s delivery from both open play and set-pieces, was a regular source of assists.

And then, after discussing the ensuing slump (not in itself a great departure for Sunderland of recent seasons), Grant goes on to describe this season…

Sunderland have continued their poor form from last season. In came Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson this summer, but the former has been completely relied upon for goals (and is currently on a run of 1 goal in his last 10 games), while Johnson has been extremely poor. The bigger problems have stemmed from using so many players out of position. With Bardsley injured, O’Neill used goalscoring midfielder Craig Gardner at right back. This is despite both O’Shea and Cuéllar playing most of their football for their previous clubs at fullback, and Larsson playing in that position for Sweden … McLean’s poor form hasn’t helped either…

MoN tells Jake this is NOT another in the O'Neill One Year On series

There’s more: the outstanding form of Danny Rose, Vaughan’s right to a decent run in central midfield, a chance for Titus Bramble, shifting Sessègnon to the left flank and using Gardner off Fletcher, maybe Connor Wickham’s physical presence “and even Ji Dong-Won” on occasions.

* But to see Grant’s full arguments – and enjoy what is a good read in itself – go to his own site at the following link: http://www.football-analysis.com/sunderland-chelsea-test-awaits-martin-oneill-a-look-at-his-first-12-months/

** For that series, and fabulous (did you mean fatuous – ed?) – build-up to Sunderland v Chelsea, including Guess the Score (fatuous prize offered) and Grant’s ‘Who are You?” interview, just go to salutsunderland.com and navigate with ease..

*** And for an idea of what other Chelsea fans think may be on Saturday afternoon’s hymn sheet, this comes from a past Who are You? candidate, David Millward … :

There’s only one Di Matteo

You’re just a fat spanish waiter

We want you to go, we want you to go, Rafa Benitez, we want you to go

Massed choruses of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’ from both sets of fans



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Colin Randall disguised as Monsieur Salut, by Matt
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1 thought on “Out of Africa: a Chelsea view of Sunderland’s plight – and escape exit”

  1. Great general knowledge but it breaks down with the full back stuff. I maintain Gardner is a better long term full back than midfielder and O’Shea and Cuellar played full back effectively when younger and much more mobile. At Man Utd O’Shea was surrounded by top players showing for the ball – here, he is lost without the same and his limited distributional abilities have been shockingly exposed.

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