So the first part of our little battle with Blackburn Rovers is over. We are out of the Carling Cup. Evidence, to Pete Sixsmith in his verdict at Sixer’s Sevens, that the alarm bells really are clanging now. Read the match thread at the Rovers site BRFCS, however, and you get the impression that we were overwhelmingly on top until they scored against the run of play, and then again with a sloppy own goal. And I’d posted a message there earlier, saying they could have the cup game if we could grab six points from Saturday and Boxing Day. Roy Keane put out a strong side (including a reassuringly fit Kenwyne Jones) Rovers fielded some squad players, so the defeat cannot be dismissed. But with the greatest of respect to the Carling Cup, what really matters after the disappointments of last weekend left us languishing in second bottom place, is the Premier. Suddenly, we are in desperate need of points. Pete takes up the theme….
Another disappointing time at the Stadium of Light. Not much light shining on us at the moment as we look to pull ourselves out of a slump which threatens to put us back into the recent dark ages of lengthy relegation struggles and kick and rush football.
Looking for positives, at least we didn’t have to go to extra time and penalties so we were home before the witching hour. Kenwyne looked sharper as the game went on and took his goal well, while Jordan Henderson did not appear out of place in the midfield.
After that, we haven’t got much to say. The worrying thing is that they did not turn out a particularly strong side and they still won. We turned out a first XI and we still lost. I don’t imagine that Tugay, Fowler. Samba or either of the twelve year olds will be lining up on Saturday. I can see all of ours, bar Henderson, being in the mix for the repeat on Saturday.
Three points will go a long way to restoring the confidence that is beginning to seep away from the players. We now need to see how Roy and his coaching staff can address what is not yet a crisis, but will become one if we are still scrabbling around the bottom of the table by the end of November.
Economists say that a recession is when there are two quarters of negative growth. In my guise as the Robert Peston of Salut! Sunderland, I say that a crisis is if we fail to take a minimum of 7 points from the next three games. I hope to be looking down on the Blackburns and Wigans of this world from the Olympian heights of 12th by the beginning of December.