John McCormick writes: In his e-mail carrying this account Pete Sixsmith said he’s addressing his remarks to Colin, Nic and myself as Malcolm had the misfortune to sit through this live. What remarks? Just the three headlines below:
ABSOLUTE RUBBISH FROM BEGINNING TO END.
YET ANOTHER CHANGE NEEDED.
NO MORE AWAY GAMES AND SEASON TICKET IN SERIOUS JEOPARDY.
Are you ready?
At the school where I am currently working, students’ work is not marked with a score out of 10 and a cursory comment (“Good”, “Needs more”, “Do you think that this is acceptable, Poyet?”), but with two abbreviations – www for “what went well” and ebi for “even better if”. The aim is to be constructive with criticism, because, as we all know, constructive criticism is helpful, while throwing your season ticket at the head coach or leaving at half time is not.
So, in the interests of good practice, let me attempt to use these criteria in assessing the complete and utter shambles that presented itself in front of me and 45,745 others (at least for the first 37 minutes) on Saturday.
What went well? Nothing.
You could argue that the team that was selected would have been the one chosen by the vast majority of the support, bearing in mind that Cattermole is suspended and Johnson is unavailable. Fletcher came in and actually did well and the goalkeeper was ok, but that was it.
Even better if? Where does one start?
In games like this you look to experienced players like John O’Shea and Wes Brown to set high standards on the field of play and to encourage those around them. O’Shea has had a good season and looks a decent type of chap while Brown’s vast experience should get him through games like this.
Not in this one. From the opening seconds when Brown launched the first of many aimless punts up field (this one went out for a throw as did a similar opener at Valley Parade), we were on the back foot. No leadership from either of them, particularly when we were rocking at 1-0 down and the club captain makes the kind of mistake that Gary Breen and Danny Collins made in the 15 point season. Agbonlahor must have thought he was in for a good afternoon as he slipped this one in and knew he was when he sped past a lumbering Brown to finish the game off and spark the first crowd exodus of the afternoon.
The Villa right back, Leandro Bacuna had already exposed our defensive frailties by moving into the open space left by Patrick van Aanholt and setting up Benteke, who finished as all good centre forwards do. Van Aanholt goes forward well but cannot defend. He wanders out of position and leaves huge gaps. Larsson reminded him of this on one occasion and harsh words were exchanged. So much for good team spirit.
You can argue that Poyet is not responsible for van Aanholt’s desperately poor positional play. He signed him, he picked him, he plays him. The buck stops at the head coach’s door.
Trying to be constructive about our midfield is like trying to find something pleasant to say about Jeremy Clarkson. Let’s be honest, if there is a worse midfield four or five in the Premier League or Championship, I would be amazed. I would imagine that the engine room of the Hartlepool or Yeovil team is more effective than this lot.
Bridcutt showed some decent touches, but played so deep, he kept bumping into Brown and O’Shea. By doing this, he allowed Sinclair, Cleverley, Delph and N’Zogbia to weave pretty patterns all afternoon and to supply a steady stream of accurate passes to the two strikers.
That his role was not changed after the second goal is staggering; that he continued in this role for 90 minutes beggars belief. He was clearly following instructions as I don’t think he has the wit or the talent to do anything else.
Larsson ran around a lot, but, as is often the case with the Swede, achieved very little. He shouted at van Aanholt and avoided a booking but rarely picked up an opponent, allowing Villa to look like Arsenal in their pomp. The same applies to Rodwell – decent touches but absolutely no influence on the game. He is another player who comes to Sunderland with a good pedigree and fails. Is it his fault or is he sucked into the slough of despond that appears to be situated somewhere in the Stadium of Light? That can be your homework.
Fletcher was wasted on the left, of which more later, but I wish to do some spleen venting on Alvarez.
Here is another South American who simply cannot play in the Premier League. His performance was more like Andy Welch than Julio Arca and he simply is not good enough. Not for the first time, he was hooked at half time. Who signed him? Who picks him? Who tells him what to do? Poyet must be responsible for at least two of those.
Up front, Defoe did what he could. He is 5’4” tall, so the obvious tactic is to lump high balls up to him – sorry, sarcasm has no place in assessing work. With someone to lay the ball off to him, he is a very good player; up front on his own, he is no better than Andy Gray or Michael Proctor.
And to add to this catalogue of individual failings, we have the most damning one; this did not look like a team. Too many of them have spent their time at Sunderland struggling to avoid the drop. Those in their first season are either not good enough or have picked up the vibes from the others.
The body language of the players (I hesitate to call them a team because they were not) was awful and Poyet looked like a man who knew that his mission to educate the footballing public of Wearside had failed. Slumped shoulders, hands in pockets and sliding deeper into his coat all indicated a man who knew that the game was up.
As it should be. He was hired to improve the club and to ensure that there would be a period of stability after five years of turmoil and chopping and changing. He will leave the club with it heading for the 10th relegation in the 50 years that I have been a regular.
There will be no “Great Escape” this year; relegation is a cast iron certainty as we are incapable of scoring goals and the allegedly “good” home games are almost at an end. With Newcastle, Southampton, Leicester and Palace to come, I cannot see a point let alone a win coming in any of those.
Should he go – and I believe he should have resigned last night – there is no obvious candidate to come in and give us the lift and self-belief that Sherwood has given Villa. Besides, the players are probably immune to short term shocks having had so many over the years.
It is a desperate situation when loyal and knowledgeable supporters like the ones who sit around me, bale out at half time. You can’t fool people like these. They know a dud when they see one and Poyet has shown, most emphatically, that this is what he is.
For the club, it would be even better if Poyet left quickly as little has been done well this season. As Macbeth said, in the words given to him by Shakespeare,
“If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well
It were done quickly.”
Fancy leaving a comment? Not sure what you have to say fits this post? Go to the made-for-purpose feature – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there