Sixer’s Soapbox: more a coroner’s inquest after Aston Villa cruise to crushing victory

Sixer: ‘a wretched night’

Beyond shocking. That is Pete Sixsmith‘s withering verdict on the latest chapter in the nightmare that is Sunderland AFC. At least he saw a terrific film before submitting himself to the excruciating ordeal of an evening at the Stadium of Light. Not for the first time this season or last, Sixer’s musings are not for those of a nervous disposition …

Driving up to the game from Richmond, (I had been to the cinema to see Lady Bird – go and see it, it’s a great film) I listened into Total Sport on BBC Newcastle. The mood was not very positive and even Marco Gabbiadini, who has been accused of having a Pollyanna outlook on life, was decidedly downbeat.

As I passed the old Vaux site, he said “I wouldn’t be surprised if we failed to win another game this season.” After this shocker, I think any sane Sunderland supporter would agree with him.

Sixer needed a few Double Maxims to get over this one

The season has slid away alarmingly and the very fact that we are still in touch with the Holy Grail of fourth bottom is down entirely to the inadequacies of the teams around us rather than anything to do with the fighting spirit shown by our gallant band of seemingly perpetual losers. Once again, we reached new depths, out depthing the performances against Brentford, Ipswich, Barnsley, Reading, etc, etc. as we strive to take the club to the lowest position in its 139-year history.

We will continue to witness performances like this (although in ever decreasing numbers) as neither management nor players can do anything to arrest the inexorable slide towards obscurity and possibly oblivion.

Moyes, Grayson and now Coleman have all attempted to do so and all have failed dismally, one because he spent the small amount of cash he had badly, one because he could not deal with the horrendous situation he found himself in and one because he finds himself in charge of a club where the owner wants out, the support has given up and the players do not want to be at Sunderland.

Villa strolled through this game. Their keeper had a couple of smart saves to make. The full backs had nothing to do while John Terry and James Chester were as comfortable as Bertie Wooster and Gussie Fink-Nottle sharing a brandy and soda and a cigar in the Drones Club. The last time Terry was here he was sent off having been torn apart by Fabio Borini, Jermain Defoe and Duncan Watmore. He would have had more trouble from Fabio’s wife, Jermain’s mam and Duncan’s knee surgeon than he got from the hapless Ashley Fletcher.

‘I say, Jeeves’

The goals we gave away were as predictable as they were awful. Two headers from Grabban and Chester, scored as a result of the kind of marking you would expect to see in an Under 9s game. Grabban must have said to Steve Bruce “They can’t defend anything slung into the box. The keeper doesn’t come for them because he is too nervous and the crowd don’t like him. The central defenders are either too old, too fat or too poor to get them so just put that ball in that box and we will score.”

And they did. As predicted, Steele was nowhere near the ball for either of the first half goals and the defenders lived up to the billing that Grabban must have given them. He is a good player; he makes runs, looks for space and scores goals. Nobody else on our “team” does any of that.

Lewis Grabban: Sixer suggests he might even have given the tactical team talk

I use the inverted commas around team because we don’t have one. We have 14 players who play on the same pitch but they do not play as a team. Villa did. They had two banks of four and two forwards. We have players who are all over the place, including some who should not be on the pitch at all.

There is no future for or at Sunderland for Steele, Lamine Kone, Donald Love, Ashley Fletcher, Tyias Browning and Billy Jones. Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria might make a player but not in the snake pit atmosphere that is beginning to envelop the Stadium of Light. If I were Jurgen Klopp, I would have him back at Anfield now. Cattermole and O’Shea are finished.

That leaves McGeady and McManaman who are on contracts and Asoro and Maja who came on as replacements. Asoro looked good and caused Wooster and Fink-Nottle to put their glasses down a couple of times to attend to him. Villa have probably made a note of his name for next season as he certainly won’t be at Sunderland. Maja did ok but he has a way to go yet.

It was a wretched night. I left before the end and was home by 10.35. I listened to Gary Bennett while driving past the Vaux site and I heartily agreed with his analysis that we didn’t have a goalkeeper, the defending was poor, there was no creativity and we never looked like scoring. He was as sure as I am that relegation is an absolute certainty and I am tempted to seek the odds for Marco’s prediction that we will not win another game.

Once there was hope: Jermain Defoe’s mum knows the sort of thing we’re missing just now

I’m afraid that, so far, Chris Coleman has not improved the situation one iota. He looks lost and is probably regretting taking the job, not having realised the desolation that exists around the club and the support. If he is to remain next season (and few would blame him if he baled out), he needs to start thinking seriously about who will play next season.

The whole situation is beyond shocking and much of the support fears for the future of the club as a whole. Division One may give us an opportunity to stabilise, but I fear a repeat of what Bristol City did in the 1980s when they “achieved” three successive relegations. It really is that dire.

Thank goodness for rugby league.

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16 thoughts on “Sixer’s Soapbox: more a coroner’s inquest after Aston Villa cruise to crushing victory”

  1. I admire your fortitude and thank you for your clear resume of a game I missed. It is so sad that this subject is attracting such an amount of comments. However, looking on the bright side, M Salut will be pleased!

  2. It’s good to see in all this mess we still have a sense of humour. Dave I do agree with some of your points, but I’ve never booed or been sarcastic to anyone on, or off the pitch, but over the years I think I’ve groaned as much as cheered. Any thoughts what I’ll be doing at QPR this weekend

  3. Depressing reading. QPR is 45 minutes away from me and myself and boy will be in attendance. I don’t make many games now so I am looking forward to it in a strange sort of way.

    • That’s the spirit Eric. For sure you are going to enjoy it. Who wouldn’t enjoy a 4-3 win to us, although your heart rate might not!

  4. There’s little point in discussing football per se as we don’t have the resources to even impersonate a team playing the game. The overriding concern now must be about the real future of the club.

    When we found ourselves on the brink of the same abyss thirty odd years ago, it wasn’t anywhere nearly as bad as this. It wasn’t as bad for the simple reason that the man at the top (Bob Murray), was interested in stopping the slide, and improving matters. We currently have half a dozen players featuring regularly who are loanees. At least that will save Coleman or whoever is at the helm come August the seemingly annual process of pruning and chucking out the dead wood. There are sadly no live trees and living wood remaining in our orchard. The future seems bleaker than ever. Will the club survive in any shape or form? Nobody will be interested in buying it at Short’s apparent asking price. Maybe he will give it away as he has suggested once the last ounce of marrow has been sucked from its bones.

    As for the above comment from Dave. You can’t blame people getting upset at the current state of affairs. What the bloody hell do you expect. Sunderland supporters have been far too tolerant for far too long.

  5. Relegation looks certain – and administration possible? A ten point deduction next season would increase the chance of three successive relegations…..

  6. Please don’t ever consider using the phrase ‘Sunderland fans deserve better’, because there is a significant minority who absolutely have the club they deserve.
    I know there are others who are more to blame but there is a proportion of the fans at the SOL now who are in danger of making us the WORST home fans in the league. You are right that we need to think about next season but who on earth would choose to come here and play in front of morons. Ashley Fletcher started promisingly last night, made a terrible mess of a good chance and was jeered every time he touched it afterwards. He (however poor he is) is not going to recommend us to the youngsters at Boro and the same will be true for all the players we currently have on loan. Similarly the managers of their clubs are not going to send any more youngsters to us to be ruined by our ‘fans’. Why do you think Ben Woodburn chose to stay in Liverpool’s reserves and Ollie McBurnie chose to go to Barnsley after we had agreed a deal for him?
    Despite being man of the match on Saturday they all seemed to be waiting for Steele’s first mistake to go for him. Your assessment of the crowd making keepers scared to leave their line is spot on. I haven’t seen the 3rd goal back but, while it looked a bad mistake by Steele at the time it was given as an own goal so must have got a very late deflection so I don’t know how much was actually down to him. He then made 3 really good saves after that to stop it being a rout.
    Those cheering every time he touched the ball will really have helped his confidence for the next game and that is really my point.
    I had a row with the man at the end of our row when he jeered Steele touching the ball and I just ‘That isn’t going to help. His response of I’ve paid my f’ing money, I’m entitled to say what I f’ing want’ just about sums up our crowd.
    Basically, everyone turning up needs to ask themselves what they want. Do you want the team to improve or to you want to vent your frustration? If the latter, don’t come to the ground. Do that at home and on message boards and stop making the rest of us embarrassed to be a Sunderland fan.

    Most of the players we have are trying but just aren’t good enough and are made worse by being frightened to try anything for fear of being booed. Your review says that Maja was decent after coming on. Did he actually touch the ball at all (I can’t remember any touch) or just run around trying to look busy without taking any risks? This is a going to only get worse because this bunch of idiots will stop any decent players from coming here (at least under the financial constraints we have as we won’t be able to pay enough to be more attractive than teams that actually have supporters).
    My daughter has her first season ticket this season. She will not renew for next season. Not because we will be in League 1 but because if these people are Sunderland. fans, she doesn’t want to be one.

    • Although I couldn’t be there last night I have heard from one who was who reported the crowd behaviour to be the same as at several previous games with exactly the same poor support for “our players”. And for me, this is the key point. These are OUR PLAYERS. If you don’t identify with them for heaven’s sake STAY AWAY. Our support at away games is much much better. What an awful thing to have to say. I admire your courage for writing this but can’t help but wonder if you and I are in a tiny minority when I notice that, as I write, 5 people agree with you and three don’t.

  7. As bad as a Team we are at present, and we are that bad, the worst I’ve seen in 51 years watching SAFC. The whole experience of going to the SOL has become so depressing, driving through from Willington last night there was no footy traffic on the road. On the ten minute walk to the Ground, hardly any supporters, is actually a game on, as it turned out there wasn’t, 22 people may have been on the pitch but I never witnessed a game.
    With time on my hands I decided to have a pint before KO. I know the Kiosks were never great but I waited 10 minutes to get served, standing behind the people in front of me, all two of them. So I’m stood watching the lights above the Turnstiles checking people’s Tickets coming in (the entertainment highlight of the night) at one time Stewards watched these to make sure Supporters weren’t robbing the Club, not anymore, they couldn’t pay people to come in.
    Waiting for the Dance of the Knights to begin, calling you to your seats, once an uplifting experience, not anymore it’s so quiet, which mirrors the feeling of walking in to a two thirds empty decaying Stadium, followed by the drab uninspiring Team announcer, and it just got worse from there.
    I can’t fault Ellis Short for the money he’s put in over his 10 years or so tenure, but I can fault him for the people he has let waste it, he is the Boss, like most things in life, Bosses are more than happy to take all the plaudits if they get it right, or when they claim to have done so, which is more so than the former. Although the Irish money had run out before he took the Club on, it was still on a sound footing for someone with the resources to take it forward, something that most of the people who love this Club are sadly unable to do.
    Buying this once proud Club for Ellis is something akin to what I do on a vastly smaller scale, when I do my food shop I place all the fresh Salad items in the Fridge looking forward to enjoying tasty meals ahead, them sometime later look in to find most starting to decay, fit only for putting straight in the bin.
    Sadly Sunderland AFC. My beloved Club is becoming that rotting, limp, wet lettuce that nothing can be done with.

    • SAFC is a limp wet lettuce Mick and Short should be given the rocket for what he’s done steering this little gem of a club, like the Titanic, into an iceberg to see it sink into the depths.

  8. Even in the depths of despair I was cheered up by your brilliantly sardonic writing, Pete. But wasn’t Gussie Fink-Nottle teetotal?

  9. I doubt we’ll win a game next season never mind this one. I genuinely fear that our 139 year history will be just that. We’re on the way out unless a consortium of some sort saved us of Short has a change of heart ( no chance).

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