The end-of-season reviews continue to flow in. Ken Gambles is another of our writers with a wealth of experience of watching Sunderland, good and bad. It’s fair to say he felt cheated at times in the season he now reviews, but at least he found one huge positive. All the reviews in this series can be seen at https://safc.blog/category/end-of-season-reviews-2015/ …
Having successfully digested my second slice of humble pie in two years — yes I thought we were goners — it’s surprising to be able to reflect on a season where we retained our Premier status, which for all its deficiencies is the place Sunderland need to be.
A nerve-shredding 0-0 at the Emirates completed what in my 51st year of following the Lads is by my reckoning the 26th relegation battle. I’m getting too old for all this strain.
If I can begin with the negatives (well, some of them). Jozy Altidore is up there with some of the worst players ever to wear a Sunderland shirt. Prolific with the USA, pathetic with us. I didn’t dislike the bloke; I just couldn’t understand how he managed to make it as a pro.
Some of our “performances” this year have been down with some of the most spineless I’ve witnessed.
Bradford City in the FA Cup was truly awful and I felt Poyet should have gone there and then. Hull, Villa and Palace at home were dreadful games, but probably the worst 45 minutes I’ve witnessed in my lifetime (a big claim I know) was the first half away at Hull, inept, clueless and utterly shocking. Thank goodness we salvaged a point in the second half.
I have come to really dislike Hull, who in all games against us in the past two seasons, have dived, overreacted and tried to get players booked, and sadly two of the worst culprits were our ex-players Elmohamady and Meyler. I’m not sorry to see the back of them.
If there are any positives to be drawn then they probably start and end with Dick Advocaat who exuded control, confidence and football knowledge which clearly communicated itself to players and fans alike.
His understated yet accurate assessment of matches was first class and at long last the team played with organisation and commitment.
Cattermole, Larsson and O’Shea were generally decent and reliable throughout, but the star for me was Pantilimon who had some outstanding games winning us vital points. I was right behind the Charlie Adam shot in the dying minutes at Stoke and the way Pantilimon clawed it to safety from behind him was breathtaking. We’ve had some good keepers in the past two decades: Sorensen, Poom, Myhre, Mignolet and Mannone but if Pantilimon continues to turn in displays like that at Arsenal, then I feel he’ll be the best since the Magnificent Monty.
It would be nice to write a season’s review where we finished in the top half and had no relegation worries but that’s hardly the Sunderland way.
Thankfully we’ve survived again and I now must buy myself a fawn scarf. Let’s hope the future is beige and orange. Please stay Dick.