Sixer’s Bradford broadside: it was an awful performance

John McCormick writes: When I saw the starting line-up I thought we had enough to win. At 1-0 down I thought we’d come back and score two. Even at 2-0 I hadn’t given up hope. Why didn’t we do any of this? I don’t know, I wasn’t there. Pete Sxsmith was, however, and here he is, sharing his view on a result that ends our dreams of another walk down Wembley Way:


What to say that hasn’t been said already? I chose to leave this for 24 hours in an attempt to get some perspective on the debacle; had I written it on my return from West Yorkshire, the keyboard would have been alight and solicitor’s letters would have been winging towards Salut House as various people were slandered and libelled with words you never hear in the bible.
So, in the cold light of day, what can I say?

Pete Sixsmith and memories of a cup run
Pete Sixsmith and memories of a cup run

Bradford were better prepared and more committed than we were. They played the game and the occasion, something that is difficult to do (ask Alan Pardew, now settled into his new role as Head Butler at The Crystal Palace). Their manager had done his homework and understood how fragile our confidence and self-belief was after Tuesday night. Good for him, good for them and good for their magnificent support.

In Billy Knott and Jon Stead they had two men who had not made it at Sunderland. In Stead’s case, he has not quite made it anywhere; spending 18 months here and a loan spell there before going home to Huddersfield and being loaned out to Oldham and The Bantams. He looked a mighty fine player yesterday, pulling two experienced central defenders all over the place and scoring the winning goal – which I think I might have saved and Mannone should have.

Jake had one word for thus Sunderland display. It is subject to the 9pm watershed
Jake had one word for thus Sunderland display. It is subject to the 9pm watershed
Billy Knott always did ok for the Under 21s but never looked like making the breakthrough into the first team as Bridcutt, Rodwell and Gomez were brought in during the last year of his contract.

On Sunday’s performance, it should have been the Canvey Islander in a blue shirt, while the hapless Bridcutt should have been playing for Bradford – Park Avenue, not City. Knott was a constant presence all over the pitch, and this was personified when, seconds having had a shot saved by Mannone, he was making a tackle on the edge of his own. Compare that with Bridcutt who was outpaced by Bobby bleedin’ Zamora on Tuesday.

And what about us?

It was an awful performance from players who should be better than this but who looked as if they did not relish the type of battle that they were in. Too many of them (names to come later) ducked tackles and failed to compete against physical opponents who were allowed too much leeway in the opening quarter of the game by Kevin Friend.

McArdle’s assault on Danny Graham was a possible red card as was his later foul on a pedestrian Fletcher in the box. If it was a penalty (it was) it had to be a red. The referee gave neither and that was our sole chance of scoring in the 90 minutes. Of course, it would have been academic if Fletcher had shown anything resembling a striker’s instinct and had rammed the ball in the net before the tackle was made. But maybe we expect too much from our players.

The pitch was muddy, bumpy and narrow. City play without wingers – we went into the game with two and persevered with them until it was far too late. Alvarez worked hard but was too elaborate and Bradford were quite happy for Johnson to come infield where Liddle (once of Hartlepool United and a former Middlesbrough Academy colleague of Johnson) and Clarke (a former Darlington loanee) picked him off easily.

The three forwards that we “employed” – Wickham replaced a concussed Graham at half time – were particularly ill suited to a game that demanded physical bravery and a determination to succeed. The three of them cost a staggering £26m in transfer fees and goodness knows what in salaries and they made little impression on Mc Ardle, a former Rochdale player and Andrew Davies, another former Boro man who has had as many clubs as Stead.

Basically, we were outfought, outthought and outplayed by a side that we may well be playing next season in the Championship. At the moment, their possible promotion is less likely than our probable relegation, but they stormed out of Division Two a couple of years ago after their League Cup exploits and have built steadily on that.

We haven’t. This is a poorer side than the one that avoided the drop last season and which will not, on the evidence of the last two games, do so this year. There is a frightening lack of belief in the team and they look demoralised. A comfortable win for a Pulis/Gardner/Sessegnon inspired West Brom on Saturday will probably tip the support over the edge and the Head Coach may well vacate his post if that does happen.

Finally, I have a couple of questions to pose. Where is Jack Rodwell? Has anyone heard anything about him since he was sent off three weeks ago? And can Liam Agnew be any worse than Liam Bridcutt, a player that Poyet brought to the club before Lee Congerton was appointed – although Congerton may well have been the man responsible for the signing of Billy Jones, a man who makes Tommy Lynch look a speed merchant.

Lose on Saturday and it won’t just be Poyet leaving the club. I’ll be joining him.


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15 thoughts on “Sixer’s Bradford broadside: it was an awful performance”

  1. Depressing reading but I understand the sentiments.
    I enjoy Sixer’s articles which are intelligent and witty, so I hope he has a change of heart.
    I read pretty much all the articles on Salut Sunderland, which is more than can be said about the other sites I read.

  2. When things are going wrong it’s a,ways the poor old mangager who takes the blame and loses his job. It’s about time some of our players puled their collective fingers out and started earning their fingers out and putting in performances required to win matches.If they don’t like the tactics bloody well say so and do something on the field that will win games. Ignoring the managers tactics and doing something to win the game will hardly get them dropped .

    • Precisely , he can’t substitute them all or drop them all for the next game , not unless he wants another mutiny on he’s hands . These are experienced internationals , they shouldn’t need directing from the sideline s . A manager is virtually redundant once that whistle blows , man up !

  3. We’re not surprised Marty. Just heartily sick of it to virtually breaking point. Those of us with several decades of supporting this club have seen it all before, time and time again. It doesn’t get any better. I can understand Pete’s frustrations and those of everyone else. I can’t even get angry about it any more. It just leaves a sick and empty feeling. I’ve said this before. To quote Ivor Cutler it’s “changing and yet changeless, like canal water.”

  4. About the only pleasure involved in supporting Sunderland AFC these days is in reading the thoughtful, erudite, amusing and (when referring to earlier days) evocative articles and comments such as those above. Pete, I hope you can continue to find the strength to suffer and subsequently inform those of us who are unable to attend and can’t stand the reports being filtered through so-called TV pundits. I say suffer because, like most correspondents, I can’t imagine a great deal of joy emanating from the SoL any time soon – but the darkest hour is just Defoe dawn……

  5. Pete may well have seen worse but this is different. It could be that this lot are being paid so much more every week or maybe we get less tolerant once we pass 60. I am concerned that I wasn’t even angry after Bradford – I think I have stopped caring.
    After that Fulham game and QPR I have certainly lost it with Gus. His rambling post match comments seem to demonstrate that he is not quite the full ticket rather than having a dodgy command of the English language. Blaming fans then the media rather than looking at his tactics and signings is not helpful and misses the whole point.
    Like others, I hope Pete stays – for selfish reasons because I’ll miss his journalism, but as a very old friend, I want him to be happy.
    It was a performance crying out for substitutions and he waited, (frozen in thought/panic?), until any sub could have no impact. Honeyman was worth throwing on at half time to make a name for himself an inject some energy. Actually, taking a couple off without replacement would have helped.
    Even a win against WBA may just delay the inevitable – although as in the latter Bruce and O’Neill days, I can’t see where the win will come from.

  6. Cracking summary Pete. It should be nailed to walls in Poyet’s office and the dressing room.

    Not sure about the last line though. Your sevens and write-ups are the first ones I read. Always spot-on.

  7. Ian, we must have stood close together back in the day in the Clock Stand, because I used to stand with my mates right in front of Pete, Pete Horan, Doug and the rest of his mates back then.

    Not sure if we met but I think the Mackemenemy days took a long term toll on a lot of people.

    • Hi Jeremy,,,yes I stood in the clock stand paddock near the half way line with Pete, Doug,and Bob Chapmam and a few others

  8. I agree with every word,I to felt like that, just like that when we were playing at Roker Park.I was waiting for Pete to pick me up to go to Birmingham and I thought,What am I doing! wasting my money watching dross year in year out,so I decided enough was enough and when Pete came knocking I told him I wasn’t going,I went to one more match when Mcnemmeney was manager and the likes of swindlehurst was trying to play,more dross,that was my last match,I couldn’t get my body to go anymore,I still look for the scores and watch the odd live game on NBC sports,but nothing has changed and I cant see it ever doing so!Enough said!!!!!

  9. Eric. That’s about the most erudite summation of what it means to be an aging Sunderland supporter. Rarely have I read a more eloquent precis. Agree with every word. Faith in what I ask?

  10. Other than the final sentence ( I’ll stick it out. Again ! ) I agree with every assessment Pete makes. Sadly it came as no surporise and talking to a mate onThursday we both agreed that Sunderland would lack the spirit and guts to compete. It was a performance of wimps something that has persisted for too many decades at the club. To be given the runaround by Jon Stead and for Mr.Kevin Enemy to be an irrelevance,despite missing an obvious penalty, speaks volumes. Yet another relegation battle looms and it’s difficult to see us escaping this time. Who on earth will they have last on Match of the Day when we’re gone?

  11. We’ve had teams a lot worse than this and results a lot worse than this, and we’re still here “keeping the faith”. However, as age creeps up on you it becomes harder. Journeys to, and especially from, take their toll. You begin to wonder if your “golden years” could be better spent on less taxing (physically and mentally) pursuits. Lying on a beach becomes increasingly more attractive. Days like Sunday are easily brushed off by youngsters with many more matches to look forward to. Old folks like me tend to brood. I realise I will probably NEVER see any success, so begin to think whether all the angst is worth it. I beginning to think not.

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