Stephen Goldsmith writes: Recent discussions between Monsieur Salut and myself concluded that this feature could be a functional way of giving contributors a topical voice. I say discussion, Monsieur may suggest it was more a one-sided pitch akin to Tony Soprano’s boys popping round for a chat. Monday in itself provided plenty of material for debate but I held back to try and maybe do a summary at the week’s end. Since then, it has been reported that James McFadden is training with the club and I’m going to ignore suggestions from Mr O’Neill that he plans to move Craig Gardner back into midfield, in the hope that it was my imagination that I read it in the first place.
There were two developments from back on Monday that are of great interest.
Rose states his desire to make loan deal permanent
I’ll be honest, I found this a little bizarre. Danny Rose told the Sunderland Echo, on Monday “If there was a chance that I could move here permanently, I’d snatch it with both hands”. There’s nothing so unusual in a loanee stating such a desire of course, but to suggest such a thing after one game, and so early in the season, raises curiosity levels somewhat.
Seeking first team football is obviously Danny’s motivation in wanting to leave Spurs, but if his club felt there was no long term future for him then they’d surely have pushed for a permanent transfer. As Rose is fairly highly rated, a fact seemingly confirmed by his inclusion into the Olympic Team Gb squad during the summer, we have to ask why the England Under 21 regular seems resigned to the fact that he has no future at Tottenham. The attitude of young players usually in this situation is one of wanting to prove themselves as competent and consistent performers for their temporary side in order to break into the side of their parent club. The terminology used by the player in this statement suggests not all is Rosey at White Hart Lane for Danny. Apologies, I couldn’t resist.
Maybe I’m doing Sunderland an injustice here and we are now a hugely attractive proposition in that a player would jump at the chance of signing when there’s even a remote chance they may not feature regularly elsewhere. Certainly Adam Johnson may have set the bar for this, and Danny did reference his signing as a factor in him coming here, along with the move back up North. Maybe there is life outside London after all.
O’Neill questions Sessegnon and The credentials of the side.
In the very same edition of the Sunderland Echo, Martin O’Neill has suggested he can’t carry on blaming match fitness for lacklustre performances. Speaking of Stephane Sessegnon specifically, he said “being able to keep the ball and not give it away early in the game, wouldnt have anything to to do with fitness” Worryingly, he then questioned whether are capable of finishing in the top ten. It only took a day for Stephane to respond, however, announcing “that it won’t be long before I’m back to my best”. Fair play to him and let’s hope he’s right.
This is probably the first time Sessegnon’s performances have been criticised, as such, since his arrival here back in January 2011. It was considered by many, including myself, as as good as any bit of transfer business conducted this summer when the club persuaded Sess to put pen to paper for a contract extension. It perhaps seems a touch harsh to question whether this has, in fact, had a negative effect on the player only three league games into the season. Cynics may question whether he’s in his comfort zone. He has seemed a bit flat, certainly.
Of course ridiculously good performances, under O’Neill in particular, means he has set the bar to a pretty mountainous level. As he failed to really adapt to regimental roles asked of him by Steve Bruce, he revelled in what was pretty much a free role under his new gaffer. His touch and change of direction, often in tight areas, literally forced your jaw to drop open throughout the campaign and it would really take a world class performer to produce this week in, week out.
But this is what he, Adam Johnson et al were supposed to bring to the table this season. I’m not being critical of Stephane here, I’m certainly no fickle fool with unrealistic expectations and I think we are privileged to have such a player in our ranks. It just feels like he epitomises the slump in form suffered by the whole squad in the very latter part of last season.
Have we, or Stephane, actually recovered from that very slump?
I can’t decide if I find Martin’s mutterings about not being a top ten club alarming or not. We have taken three respectable draws in three games this season and it has left us with a situation where judging the achievements of the side’s start isn’t necessarily easy due to the ambiguous nature of it. Have we started well with no defeats, or have we started slowly with no wins? How I despise the fact that the Reading game was postponed. Six points and unbeaten in four games would certainly have offered a better cushion for our trip to Upton Park this weekend.