Jake sent a message with the graphic on the left:
“Another false dawn is snuffed out.”
Is there any hope?
David Moyes suggests there is, other results suggest there may be.
But, for the real truth, there’s only one place to go. Pete Sixsmith – he’s seen it all, he knows what’s what.
Over to Pete:
“After the Lord Mayor’s Show comes the dustcart” is an old maxim that makes it clear that after a spectacular display (The Lord Mayor’s Show, a 4-0 away win at Crystal Palace), it is usually followed by something that is less welcome ( a cart to pick up all the horse s***, a 4-0 home defeat to Southampton). We have had a lot of dustcarts over the years – this was possibly the one that will prove terminal.
It often applies after a win over Our Friends from the North – defeats at Stoke City, Hull City and at home to the Tigers spring to mind, but there have been others of which this was the latest. The optimism which had been at abnormally high levels all week had gone by 4.45 to be replaced by that sinking feeling which Sunderland fans have known for the last few years as the grim spectre of the Championship stalks the Stadium.
I don’t hold with the view that we would be better off being relegated because you can win games in the lower league. That philosophy has worked at Newcastle but not at Villa and there are lots of relegated clubs who do not bounce back and appear to be stuck in the limbo of being “a decent Championship side” – Fulham, Ipswich, Wolves. We are more likely to join that group rather than having a barnstorming season a la the Mags.
For 25 minutes we looked good. Oviedo and Gibson were a breath of fresh air, both using the ball well and pushing forward. Ndong was busy and ran the centre of the park and Januzaj had one excellent run and set up Defoe who got his feet tangled up. It looked good – but the rule is, that when on top, you must score. We didn’t and allowed Southampton to seize and maintain control.
Poor defending allowed them to go in at the break two goals to the good, both scored by Manolo Gabbiadini. He looked nothing like Marco but was just as effective and, on this display, will be an excellent acquisition for the Saints.
His first goal came after a lethal cross from the very impressive Ryan Bertrand which beat Lamine Kone’s despairing diving header and probably hit the Italian striker on the arm as it went in. The second showed up all of our limitations as Gabbiadini (already lined up as a pundit on BBC Solent) turned O’Shea and Kone in the box and drilled home the second to win the game for his team.
Kone lost interest after this while O’Shea was withdrawn and replaced by Pienaar as we reverted to a flat back four. Pienaar was expected to try to break the stranglehold that Davis, Ward- Prowse and Romeu had over the game but it proved to be yet another poor substitution by the manager.
I have long been an admirer of Davis who I feel is the most underrated player in the League. Ward- Prowse is another fine player but Romeu had escaped my attention until I saw him yesterday. He had a few games for Chelsea, went on loan to Valencia and Stuttgart and came to Southampton last season. He has hardly missed a game since and acts as the midfield enforcer, the type of which Ndong aspires to be, M’Vila might have been and Lorik Cana certainly was for a brief spell in 2009.
Between them, they made our midfield of Larsson, Gibson and Ndong look pedestrian and Pienaar added nothing to it. He has some nice touches but is clearly too slow for this league. Honeyman would be a better bet – although not a great one. The absence of Cattermole and Kirchhoff is now being very much felt. Maybe Cana would contemplate a return – he appears to be without a club at the moment.
The final two goals were late on and showed the depths to which we sank as the crowd vacated the ground to enjoy the traffic jams out of the city. Denayer, who makes up for a slight lack of quality by plenty of effort, turned in the third and then we just couldn’t be bothered to stop Long from scoring. How we needed a player like this in the last two windows, someone with a bit of muscle and a bit of nous to complement our one man forward line.
Fraser Forster (a privately educated former Mag – what’s not to dislike about that) had one “save” to make when Ndong fired in a “shot” in the 65th minute and, apart from a header missed by Kone and a clearly offside goal from late sub Khazri, Southampton were barely troubled.
It was yet another dispiriting performance (that prefix gets some use!) and one which pushes us further back in the scramble to avoid the trips to St Andrews and Craven Cottage next season. Other teams lost but not with the panache that we did and if I were a Swansea, Leicester or Middlesbrough fan, I would be already writing off the bottom two as virtual certainties to slip away.
And so off they go to New York for a team bonding session. It gets them out of the way of the support for a few days and they may have time to reflect on the lack of professionalism in the closing stages when certain players threw in the towel and showed little enthusiasm for the fight that lies ahead.
Dustcarts play an important role in any society as they pick up the mess left by their so called betters. There will be a new group of players next season who will have to pick up the stinking deposits left by this lot.