John McCormick writes:
It’s a long time since I’ve been to Leicester and I wasn’t there yesterday. Will I feel the need to go next season? Possibly not as we could be in different leagues. Or possibly yes, as we could be in the same League, just not this one. At least I think that’s what Pete Sixsmith‘s saying in his report from the King Power Stadium:
After a pleasant session in Loughborough and The Swan In Rushes (now owned by the excellent Castle Rock Brewery in Nottingham), I tuned into 5Live as we approached the King Power Stadium to hear Pat Murphy, the Sage of the Midlands, say to Mark Chapman that this one looked like a goalless draw.
You got it right Pat.
After the game, he described Sunderland as gritty and quietly effective and praised Steven Fletcher for his link up play and his ability to bring other players into the game.
Right up to a point, Pat.
He didn’t say that this was two points lost for a Sunderland team that now goes into 5 difficult fixtures before Santa slides down the chimney.
Nor did he say that those extra two could and should have been achieved if we had had a midfield player who had the energy and the ability to seize the game and take it to a home team who gambled on playing two wide men and who were there to be overrun in the centre.
When we paid £10m for Jack Rodwell, we thought that here was the man to do this. That he has had a quiet and rather disappointing start to his job at Sunderland has affected the way that we play. He was an unused substitute yesterday, which says quite a bit.
The Head Coach went for the industry of Larsson and the light touch of Gomez against a side who had failed to win in seven and who had not scored in the last five. Surely an opportunity to pick off opponents who could well be on their way back to the Championship in May.
They had a go at us in the first twenty five minutes, with both wingers looking sharp and Vardy almost taking advantage of another careless error by Wes Brown.
I saw Vardy play for FC Halifax Town at Whitby a few years ago, just before he moved to Fleetwood and his style is still the same; he is quick and sharp but, whereas he took his chances at Northern Premier and Conference level, he has found it much harder in the Premier League.
After we had weathered the storm (good journalistic cliché, that one), we began to dominate and Schmeichel Junior made two good saves from Fletcher and Johnson. Had either one of those gone in I suspect that the Foxes Faithful would have turned on their team and on Nigel Pearson. But we didn’t so they didn’t and we had to put up with some clown banging a bloody drum for 90 minutes.
After the fiasco with that wretched England band on Tuesday, surely the time has come for the FA to stop worrying about trivialities like racism in the boardroom, the endemic corruption at FIFA and whether clubs should employ non recanting rapists, and turn their attention to clubs who encourage drummers. Relegating them to the local parks league would do for a start, after the drummer has been tied to his instrument and rolled down Busty Bank.
I thought that Adam Johnson was the key to this game. He looked dangerous whenever he received the ball but once again, little came of his intelligent and thoughtful probing. When the ball came back off City defenders, we had nobody on the edge of their box to pick it up.
Cattermole was too deep, Larsson not quick enough to get there before a lusty tackle came in from the excellent Matthew James, while Jordi Gomez is too lightweight. He has skill and can pick out a player well but he is far too easily pushed off the ball.
Defensively we did ok. John O’Shea held the back four together with his intelligent reading of the game and Ulloa was comfortably controlled by the Irishman. Both full backs did well enough against wingers who started well but who ultimately ran out of steam.
I also thought that Connor Wickham had a good one out wide. He won a lot of headers in midfield to play Fletcher in and looked a good player, albeit against relatively weak opponents. I would still like to see him going through the middle though.
Fletcher was the best forward on the field by a long way. He was thwarted by Schmeichel in the first half, was inches away from a header after a well worked corner (we don’t get many of those) and gave their central defenders a busy afternoon.
But we could not score. Chances came and went but there was nobody there to take advantage of a tiring Leicester. Bridcutt replaced Larsson when Rodwell might have given us that push that we needed and Buckley came on for Gomez with five minutes to go. It was too late for him to make an impression and too late for us to rack up our third win of the season.
A disappointing day and yet another one which makes we wonder if it is worth shelling out £75.00 for the “privilege” of watching two low level teams run about a lot without a single player showing that he is much above the average.
We now go into a difficult five game run where we play four of the current top six. We have played all of the promoted clubs away, have gained two points and have failed to score against any of them. This was a better performance than either QPR or Burnley, but with the Clarets duffing up Stoke and Good’ol’Arry’s boys welcoming the Foxes next Saturday, we could well be back in the mix come 7.30p.m. on Saturday.
Gus has to get it right in the January window. We need a player who will give us a bit of oomph and a bit of quality in the final third. Maybe Adam Johnson will repeat his heroics of last year or maybe we can entice Fabio Borini back or maybe Jozy Altidore will get a chance and will show us the latent skill and power that we saw at The Sports Direct last year.
It’s not good to look back; we need to look forward. But when we do, the mists cloud over and all appears to be hazy and unclear. I hope that Poyet and Congerton have a clearer view of the future than I have.
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