John McCormick writes: there are cries from some of our readers for our manager to go, there are others saying he should have more time, and there are those saying it’s not his fault and there’s nothing he can do. I must confess I’m expecting any day to hear he’s been sacked or walked as it seems to be the SAFC way of dealing with things but I’m not sure if it would solve anything. Pete Sixsmith, who has been to far more matches and lives much nearer to the action, was at last night’s debacle. What does he think? He’s past caring. Perhaps that tells us all we need to know …
Our last 5-2 defeat was at Everton in December 2015 when it looked as if we were doomed under Sam Allardyce. We played a back three of O’Shea, Brown and Jones that night. The manager knew that we needed reinforcements, wheedled some money out of the owner, brought in four players and bingo….. we stayed up. Fast forward to a sultry night in Suffolk and we lost by the same score to a competent Ipswich side who may have a real push for the play offs at the end of the season. By that time, we could well be relegated.
Simon Grayson is struggling. There was no money to spend during the summer, he inherited players who were probably as sick of playing for Sunderland as I am of watching them and he has others who are neither strong enough or good enough to play in this tough, physical division. Put all that together in a mixing bowl and you have the ingredients for a catastrophe and it is starting to roll itself out before our very eyes.
This was the nadir – so far. There will be worse to come as we play sides who are organised, have a bit of pace, can control midfield and have a goalkeeper who can actually make saves. And who, crucially, are not made up of failures at Sunderland and failures at other clubs.
Not one of the 14 who played can come out of this with any form of credit. Some ought to hang their heads in shame at the performance they turned in. Lamine Kone was a disgrace from start to finish, showing no desire to win the ball either in the air or on the ground. To be beaten in the air by Martin Waghorn for the opening goal was as low as he has been in his time with us. The quicker that ends the better for all concerned.
Others were little better and the manager has to tak some responsibility for this. What on earth possessed him to play Oviedo in midfield? Barely adequate as a full back, his feeble performance was terminated early after he was once again bullied by those ever so big, ever so nasty Ipswich players. Why wasn’t one of McGeady or McManaman played alongside Vaughan? No point in putting in crosses if your centre forward cannot win the ball and, if by some miracle he does, there is nobody there to pick it up.
We really are the softest of soft touches and as long as we have players like Gibson, Kone, Oviedo and Wilson in the team we will continue to be so in a league where physicality is mixed with skills. Leeds United, Barnsley, Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City have them in abundance. We have neither. Opposition managers and scouts must chuckle all the way home after watching us. Whoever Preston sent to Portman Road will surely deliver a damning verdict which may well say something like;
“Run at them, get a decent cross in and you will score. Growl at the midfield and they will run away. Look at the teamsheet and if Kone, Gibson, Jones and Oviedo are playing, give the first eam the afternoon off and call up the Under 18s.”
Mick McCarthy has assembled a solid team. Waghorn played well, took a good goal and set up two more as our defence crumbled like a sub standard Bake Off cake. They were full of running and energy and they must have gone off at the end wondering if they will play a team as wretched and as uncoordinated as this one was. I shall watch their progress with interest. I always had a lot of time for Mick – I am running out of patience with his fellow Yorkshireman.
I am missing Preston on Saturday in order to attend Shildon’s FA Cup tie with Banbury United and taking in a game at Rushden and Higham United tonight. Then we can have a couple of weeks off thank goodness which may give the managerial team an opportunity to find a coherent system and stick with it. The constant fiddling around does not help.
Post match was spent in good company in the Mermaid on Yarmouth Road, where I spent the night. This is being written in Ipswich Library so thanks to Marston Inns and Suffolk County Council for helping me to get rid of some of the angst – but the main problem is that I am largely past caring. I suspect that there are many others in the same boat.