Sixer’s Soapbox: Sunderland are the new QPR – quite poor really!

Peter Sixsmith has been watching Sunderland since the days of Cec Irwin and Ambrose Fogarty. In that time he has witnessed some dross and he now adds Tuesday’s visit of the Premier League’s bottom side to that collection. Much of the pre match speculation was about the effect Harry Redknapp would have on the game but in truth QPR could have had Louise Redknapp in the technical area and the outcome would probably have been the same – such was the dearth of attacking options provided by Martin O’Neill’s boys. As a contributor to Total Sport said earlier this evening: “The Samaritans were outside the ground handing out leaflets after this one.” We’ll let Sixer talk it through.

Jake turns Sixer's smile upside down

LOST FOR WORDS

Over the years, the number of negative reports I have written for Salut Sunderland have far outweighed the positive. Keane, Sbragia, Bruce have all had me considering a return to the Championship and visits to Barnsley, Bolton and Blackpool in whatever season we are looking at.

We have escaped on every occasion, usually with a bit to spare, although once it was by the skin of our teeth and we owed profuse thanks to Joe Kinnear, Alan Shearer and Fat Mike Ashley.

Twelve months ago, it looked as if we were in serious danger of being dragged into the relegation dogfight. The answer then was to replace a manager who had lost the support of the fans with one who had the backing of the vast majority of red and whites.

So, where are we now? If Tuesday night’s miserable offering was anything to go by, we will be spending a lot of time in Yorkshire next season as we contemplate visits to Barnsley, Huddersfield and Hull.

Tuesday was as dispiriting a night as I have had at the Stadium since the last dispiriting night. I came away seriously worried about where the club, the manager and the season is going.

I have rarely seen such a flat, one paced Sunderland side. Take Rose out of the equation and there is no pace whatsoever.

I have rarely seen a Sunderland side fail to get a grip in midfield as this one did. Once Cattermole limped off, six minutes into the game, we were completely dominated by the bottom side in the league, a team that has not won all season and who have not won away since last summer.

I have rarely seen a Sunderland side so toothless up front, despite having spent £22m on the players who were supposed to move us up a level. Fletcher must be very worried about becoming a Jonah. Should my worst fears be realised, let’s hope Newcastle sign him.

Jake: 'Disappointing. But not unexpected.'

Quite frankly, it was bloody awful. Rose and Kilgallon were the only success stories. Mignolet made a couple of crucial saves and Cuellar was solid.

Other than that, I can’t think of anything positive to say. I suppose McClean looked a bit sharper when he came on, but he was still a shadow of the player who bounded down the touchline last year against these opponents.

The rest were somewhere between ineffective (Fletcher) and dismal (Gardner and Bardsley). Passes went astray, the ball was passed backwards and sideways as it has been all season. Nobody was able to run at a defence that is as leaky as a roomful of politicians. We never threatened to score all night.

The manager cut a forlorn figure as the game went on. It looks as if he knows that the game is up with this current batch of players. He must be hoping to strengthen in January, but he will have difficulty attracting players to a club which could well be languishing in the bottom three.

His judgement must be questioned as well. Cattermole was supposed to have a serious knee injury, but he started. Poor call by the manager to play him.

Off he goes and on comes Jack Colback, a player who has struggled all season and who seems to have lost confidence in his ability to move the ball forward. The crowd were less than impressed and poor Jack had another tortuous 84 minutes as he was brushed aside by Mbia, Taarabt and Mackie – as was the increasingly pedestrian Craig Gardner. I’m afraid he is rapidly turning into another Shaun Cunnington.

Click here for the Martin O’Neill ‘Team of all Talents?’ mug: £9.50, post-free for UK buyers, from the Salut! Sunderland Shop

Rangers were OK and they worked hard for each other. Redknapp may do to them what O’Neill did to us a year ago and get them playing with confidence. I suspect they may have a busy January window.

A miserable day all round as it is 3 years since my pal Dave Lish died. I have a very good idea of what his caustic but accurate assessment would be of the complete and utter mess that we once again find ourselves in.

Norwich on Sunday and then Chelsea and Reading at home. One point out of that lot and we will be firmly camped in the relegation zone. Then what does the owner do? What do we as supporters do?

Depressing isn’t it.

Colin Randall disguised as Monsieur Salut, by Matt

At ESPN, Monsieur Salut insists there is no alternative to Martin O’Neill: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/693?cc=5739



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8 thoughts on “Sixer’s Soapbox: Sunderland are the new QPR – quite poor really!”

  1. MON trusts a young lad on loan , who is consistently one of our better performers. But has no trust in youngsters on our own books, which says a lot about the state of the club overall. The problems were visible in the last ten games last season, and don’t seem to have been addressed by new signings. Playing Catts on Tuesday was reminiscent of Bruce playing injured players too early. Players on bench who have little chance of coming on undermines their confidence and blocks emergence of new young kids. So many problems, and I don’t see it getting better. A bleak season ahead instead of one which started full of hope and optimism

  2. Not sure about visiting Hull next season, Pete. There’s the frightening thought that SB might bring them up as we go down !

    Interested in Geoff Mangan’s description of MO’s post-match interview. I’d already described it to a mate as “incoherent gibberish”. This is what the S’land job does to you. He must be losing his sanity – that can be the only reason for persisting with a one-man-marooned-up-front system which will never,ever, work.

  3. I watched his post match interview with some concern. He looked totally stressed – almost incoherent, a mere jumble of words not really making any sense.
    I posted a couple of weeks ago the phrase ‘ Freefall is the new Skyfall’ for us. We are the world experts at identifying a team bereft of confidence, especially at home. The signs are all there. Part of me wishes that the crowd (or at least an audible section of them) wouldn’t ‘boo’ because I cannot understand how it could possibly help.
    However, I know how they feel. QPR weren’t that good and any early goal would have changed the game. How long does a run of ‘bad luck’ last until it ceases to become bad luck and just a poor set of players/structure/coaching/preparation?

  4. The players seemed to be just going through the motions,no drive no confidence.When Sess or Johnson got the ball you never thought they looked like going past a defender.Sess wants too much time and takes the one touch too many inmstead of crossing/ passing and eventually gets caught. Johnson cannot even seem to control the ball at present,how many throw ins did he concede?(and last match)

    Without those two firing we are stuck.The service to Fletcher is meagre and he ends up coming deeper and deeper to find some ball.We need more zip,and quick tempo passing but all we are getting is pedestrian side/backward passing and no cutting edge.

    You have to look at the coaching,I am not saying we need a new manager but he has to find a way out of the rut we have become stuck in.I am sure MON is working on it of it and probably getting some restless nights over it.His whole reputation is on the line here.

  5. As I mentioned in reply to an earlier thread, I wonder if M O’N needs John Robertson alongside him to be effective. I hope we find out soon, can’t get much worse.

  6. I think the problem is that we are competing in the Premier League with a group of largely Championship standard players. I recall that we were absolutely hopeless during the latter part of Bruce’s reign, and, apart from a brief flurry of success following O’Neill’s appointment, are little better now.
    Bruce and Keane both demonstrated poor judgement in the transfer market, and O’Neill has inherited the consequences. Unfortunately his [ O’Neill’s ] tactics and powers of motivation have not helped. O’Neill looks and sounds as if he can see the problem, but has not the remotest idea of what the solution might be.

  7. I did think that we would be sitting safely in the top half of the league by now but football never ceases to confound and confuse. Last season MON found the vital spark when he introduced James McLean into the team ,but sadly his light seems to have extinguished and he looks as if he is about to be filed awy under the heading of ‘one season wonder’

    I believe that the manager will find the missing link sooner rather than later. IMO it needs to be in the middle of midfield, maybe Vaughan and a rejuvenated Meyler…..the one who kept Cana on the bench. or maybe one of the young bucks like Deacon, Ji, Knott or Wickham. Maybe Elmo will return from Hull and show us why he was known as the Beckham of Egypt.Football can throw up some unlikely heroes and how we need one now.

    I remember the effect a young Bobby Kerr had many years ago , and then some years later the impact made by Rowell,Arnott and Elliot. It would be great to think that the same could happen now, but common sense tells me not, and that our best hope is for Sessegnon and Johnson to pull their fingers out and put in some match winning performances .

    One thing for sure is that changing the manager will not help us one jot.

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