You’d be forgiven for thinking our esteemed illustrator, Jake, and our resident chronicler of doom, Pete Sixsmith, were pretending for April Fool’s sake to be on strike. In fact, Jake is in hospital in Spain (here’s hoping they sort you out, pal) and Sixer had a full day’s work at the chalkface. Needless to say, both are in gloomy spirits. I felt for Jake, having to recover my score texts, but maybe he’s grateful the hospital, didn’t have us on live. And here, not for the squeamish is Sixer’s appraisal of yet another 90 minutes of rank disappointment …
And that, my headline, is about all there is to say about another disappointing and probably defining night at the Stadium of Light, where once again we failed to beat one of the teams around us, leaving us adrift with Fulham in the bottom positions.
I am now quite certain that this spell in the top league is over. It’s about the norm – six or seven seasons and then back to the second level from which we may or may not pull ourselves out sooner rather than later.
This is yet another relegation that we should have avoided but the paucity of the team that we have suggests otherwise. Quite simply, we cannot defend and we cannot score. So how on earth can we expect to win games?
Look at the two we conceded in this game. Great header from Carroll for the first, but neither Brown nor O’Shea put him under sufficient pressure. It was an easy one for the Kevin Kyle play-a-like. The second was a disaster as we failed to clear the ball, failed to tackle and watched it take a deflection and trickle into the net.
Poor teams give away poor goals.
There was plenty of effort throughout the evening but no class or quality until Adam Johnson arrived on the scene and did what nobody else had done in the preceding 60 minutes and ran at the West Ham defence.
He scored a great goal from an equally great pass from Craig Gardner and the two of them desperately tried to get us back into the game.
That we did not force an equaliser is due to the fact that our forward players, Borini, Wickham and Scocco, looked even less effective than our defenders. This is the poorest set of alleged strikers that we have had since we tried to stay up with Paul Stewart and Craig Russell. The outcome will be the same.
Questions need to be asked about the team selection and the players who have been brought into the club since January. Vergini had another poor game, although he does look quite composed when he is on the ball and there is no one near him. That rarely happens at this level and a lot less so in the Championship.
Bridcutt is an okay player and should find his true level next season while Scocco has already overtaken Rada Prica as the most useless January buy. He is approaching several others in the most useless buy of all time competition as well.
Throw in Connor Wickham, the great bright hope, returned from his loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds and now ranking as the biggest flop of Steve Bruce’s time in charge and you can see a club that is going nowhere fast.
West Ham didn’t even have to be average to win, they just had to turn up. They sat deep and faced a team with a two defensive midfield players and Ki, who can play for 25 minutes before fading out a bit and then for another 30 minutes before fading out completely.
No Johnson, despite him being our leading scorer. Who else was going to put the ball in the Hammers net? Borini looks as if he is a spent force now and if I ever see either Wickham or Altidore score I will pinch myself so hard that I will be a mass of bruises. Both are completely out of their depth in this league.
So, off we go to Spurs followed by Everton. I confidently expect to be bottom of the league by then and the remaining games will be played out in front of dwindling crowds and an unpleasant atmosphere.
Relegation (the ninth one I have suffered) is as certain as night follows day. This time I may not be there to see if we can make it back to the top level. My desire to watch Sunderland is being sorely tested yet again. This time, it might just be one relegation too far.
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