A return of the occasional series of week-gone summaries as Monsieur Salut kicks his heels after a fairly pointless guided tour of a thalassotherapy centre 20 minutes out of Tunis – why didn’t they take me to Carthage instead? I have to report that I have so far, 12 hours into my trip, failed to locate a creative Tunisian midfielder or strike partner for Fletch …
So let us have a quick look back at the week here at Salut! Sunderland … a week dominated by the great O’Neill One Year On series. I hope those trashy online reports – “Chelsea set to edge MoN closer to the sack” sort of thing – are just that, trash. Why should anyone be nervous about the visit of Rafa Benitez and his fractious bunch of former Champions League winners? Just asking.
For a quick guide to the series, I could do worse than quote the same extracts I shared with readers of the ESPN site – see it here: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/721?cc=5739 – under the headline: “Will Chelsea’s visit bring some overdue comfort – or just add to O’Neill’s anniversary blues?”
In each case, you can read the full contribution by clicking on the name of the writer:
* Should He Stay Or Should He Go?:
I’m not in favour of O’Neill going yet, either of his own volition or his being forced out. The club needs stability and any manager needs time but I fear unless we see a change of tactics the Arsenal fans who said we were in for a boring time and the Villa fans who said MON’s stubbornness will not take the club to the heights we crave will be proved right (Malcolm Dawson)
* Will His First Anniversary Also Be His Last?:
O’Neill has persisted with wingers who are out of form (Adam Johnson) or have been found out (maybe both cases apply to James McClean), who have failed persistently to deliver decent service to our multimillion pound striker (Steven Fletcher) … It’s possibly the emphasis on playing with wingers that has distracted the manager from the genuine lack of creativity in the middle of the field where, invariably, Jack Colback has been paired with Lee Cattermole. Every team needs a Cattermole but it shouldn’t require two Cattermoles or two Colbacks either. (Jeremy Robson)
* Trivial Pursuit Or Action Man This Christmas?
At the moment, the players just are not working hard enough on the pitch. We have seen that when they do, they produce a performance worthy of themselves and the manager. The second half against Norwich was a prime example of this. O’Neill didn’t change the way we play in that second half, but we created ample goal scoring opportunities and could have run out 5-2 winners had we taken them. (Gareth Barker)
* Keep The Faith – Things Will Pick Up:
I am still very much behind our manager and still believe he can and will turn things around, but this doesn’t mean he’s immune to criticism. We’re now well past the point in the season where we should be happy to take positives from the odd good performance. As is often stated this is a results business, and so far this season we haven’t had enough good ones. The January transfer window is going to be massive for our season. I don’t think it’s going to take much for us to turn this season around but we do need a few reinforcements, and I think O’Neill and Ellis Short (the owner) know this more than anyone. (Richard Purdham)
* Remember, Remember The 4th Of December (Walloping Chelsea):
The arrival of Fletcher and Johnson was heralded by most as a step in the right direction. Two wingers – one (Johnson) skilful and subtle, the other (McClean) a rambunctious raider – would, it was hoped, play a major part in setting up the goals for Fletcher and Stephane Sessegnon. Bring on Arsenal, Reading and Swansea. But it hasn’t worked out that way. We have struggled to find the net, Fletcher our only League scorer until a helpful Newcastle player gave us a point in October. Our central midfield has shown as much imagination as a Simon Cowell TV show and to call the two wingers effective would be a violation of the English language not to mention the Trades Descriptions Act. (Pete Sixsmith)
Before all that, we had Sixer’s essential matchday report from Carrow Road. Sample:
“Like little Jimmy Clitheroe, we get punished if we do things wrong. Unlike Jimmy, we don’t come back and start again as if nothing has happened the previous week. Chelsea and Reading will have noticed the lack of cohesion shown in the first half and also noted that once we go a goal down, we lose.”
And squashed between items three and four of the O’Neill anniversary series came the Chelsea “Who are You?”. Catch it here: https://safc.blog/2012/12/safc-v-chelsea-who-are-you/. Thought-provoking stuff as this extract shows: “The fact that Chelsea are perceived as some sort of racist club is disgusting. It’s often forgotten we had a black manager 16 years ago and have a black Sporting Director who is also Jewish right now. We are one of the few clubs who have a history of giving elite jobs to black people. We all hate Rafa, so at least the support is united on that front!”
There was also the Guess the Score feature: https://safc.blog/2012/12/safc-v-chelsea-will-the-nordsjaelland-factor-help-or-hinder-guess-the-score/
… all of which gives you the busy fan’s guide to Salut!’s week ….