Soapbox: Manchester horror show – or a corner turned?


About the last thing to be expected from Pete Sixsmith after yesterday’s lamentable defensive display at Man City was the see-it-both-ways equanimity of his own chosen headline. Mark Hughes was sacked for a run markedly better than ours. Pete keeps the faith up to a point. He reckons on seven points from the next three games being pretty much non-negotiable if the slump isn’t to become a crisis. Where have we heard that before? …

The feeling
on the coach home from the City of Manchester Stadium last night was certainly the former: a full scale, 3D, Todd AO, Cinemascope, horror show, redolent of Hammer Films in all its gory, bloody detail.

As we ploughed through heavy snow in North Yorkshire and lethal roads in the vicinity of Ferryhill, one or two began to voice the opinion that at least we looked better going forward and the problems at the back were not insurmountable. I wonder.

Let’s go down the horror show road first. I have to say that I have rarely seen a display of such ineptitude as shown by Nyron in the first half. I assume that he was selected above Bardsley because he is quick and he would be able to keep up with Bellamy. Unfortunately, you can’t keep up with a winger if you are two yards in front of him, or if you are pulled into the middle. If you do that, you are responsible for giving away goals. Nyron was responsible for three of them. The penalty was a soft one, but home teams get them and we should be asking where was our full back when Bellamy got the ball?

If Nozza is to see his contract out, use him as a mentor for players coming up from the Youth team or for players joining the club. Make him Reserve team captain, give him an office at the Academy, but for goodness sake, don’t let him near the Premier League ever again.

McCartney was little better, being bamboozled by Wright-Phillips for the third goal. His distribution is woeful and his tackling and positional sense questionable, even at the best of times. He is a mere shadow of the player he was first time here, and it seems amazing that he was voted player of the year by West Ham fans a couple of years ago, above the likes of Tevez and Parker.

Two full backs is now a priority, as Bruce clearly does not rate Bardsley, although he would have at least clattered the obnoxious little troll known as Bellamy. Nyron never got close enough to extract revenge on the odious little Welshman for all the goals he has scored against us over the years.

The Boys On The Sofa were waxing lyrical about what a great game it was. It wasn’t. Citeh’s defending was even more comical than ours at times. Toure and Onouha were abysmal and contributed to our three goals by being unable to mark anyone or clear a ball effectively. But Citeh do have pace and Bellamy must have though all his birthdays had come at once when he realised that Nyron had all the positional sense of a traffic cone.

So, a dismal performance. In places yes, but there were some straws of comfort to grab hold of.

Mensah had a decent game alongside Turner and they did well amidst the wreckage down the flanks. This has to be our best defensive pairing, although the very harsh, done by the book, red card Mr. Marriner gave to Turner will mean further reorganisation in those positions. I can’t see him changing his mind. Turner caught Barry with his elbow; it’s a red card, although more sensible refs than Marriner (and there must be at least 10,000 out there), might have left it at a reprimand.

Cattermole did well on his return and, although understandably tired at the end, pushed us forward whenever he could. His presence allowed Henderson to get forward as well and he was rewarded with a fine goal and another decent performance. It’s good to see a player of his quality and aptitude emerging from the Academy. Let’s have a few more, please.

At time of writing, we are still in tenth place (although this could change depending on Sunday and Monday’s games) and I would happily settle for that in May. However, the recent slip in form is teetering on the edge of a slump; 1 point out of the last 15, five points out of the last 30, 1 point from the last eight away games. Last season we hit a bad patch from March to May; hopefully, October to December is this seasons equivalent, with a revival in the New Year. Our next three League games are very, very important; seven points is the minimum requirement if we are to arrest the slide and not get into a relegation tussle.

On a more upbeat note, we found a new venue for pre match drinkies, Uppermill, the principal town in the Saddleworth district. The landlord of The Wagon opened early and plied us with his excellent Robinsons beers. Sobs even managed a half of the ferocious Old Tom and, as a result, slept all the way home.

Aficionados of the film Brassed Off (of which our esteemed proprietor is one) will know Uppermill and its surrounding villages as the venue for the Brass Band contest where the Grimley Band drink more beer and hit more bum notes, culminating in Stephen Tomkinson’s trombone falling apart. It’s a lovely part of the Pennines, now in Greater Manchester, but still claiming loyalty to Yorkshire. I can heartily recommend the Robinsons Unicorn and Dissy Blonde in The Wagon, and the Meat and Potato Pie, Mushy Peas and Red Cabbage in the Riverside Café.

And finally, I hope that all reading this enjoy their Christmas, however they celebrate it, and that 2010 is a good year for them. Football wise I will be pleased to see the back of 2009!!

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8 thoughts on “Soapbox: Manchester horror show – or a corner turned?”

  1. BTW I don’t think everything is rosy, I feel that Cana stifles our attacking game. Playing Catts and him in the same team is too defensive IMO. Catt’s is the man as he has an attacking side to his game.

    Cana is quality and a GREAT captain but with our lack of attacking prowess from midfield I don’t think he currently suits our setup. I personally would swap him for an equal quality midfield playmaker, NOW, January, ASAP, PLEASE!!

    He would suit a team like Arsenal where they have that attacking edge and a player like Cana to break up midfield play is what ‘their’ team needs, not ours.



  2. Yes, sorry, I must withdraw the speculation about putting information into the public domain being in anyway Journalistic. No expense account, a regard for fact, that ain’t no Journalism!!!

    Back under me stone, for now 🙂

  3. I was going to say that Redan_White must have been B J Irwin of Bangor, Northern ireland in a previous incarnation and was anxious to repent. Mr Irwin used to write week after week to the Echo bemoaning a team that ran away with the Championship, whatever it was called then, and finished seventh in the Premier two seasons running. Whereas Mr Irwin saw no good , Mr R_W feels all is well even when we are losing every away game and only drawing at home to Pompey.
    But having just watched the highlights for the first time, I’d say the ref got three major decisions badly wrong: not a penalty, not a sending off, winner offside.
    So R_W can feel vindicated. But he must stop calling Pete Sixsmith a journalist!

  4. There are guys on Sunderland’s books who are doing the team no favours whatsoever, Red, and they need to be dumped. Dunno where you get your information about one or two players at most coming in but, as long as they’re competent defenders, that should be enough.
    I don’t regard myself as deluded or depressed. I think 8th might be slipping beyond our grasp but I don’t expect we’ll finish lower than 10th or 11th. At which point I shall raise a glass in a grateful toast to Bruce.

  5. Selling, WHAT, are you serious, and I mean seeling what? When Murphy and Healy are regular bench warmers we are in NO position to sell. I think one or two players are coming in at the most.

    This is the season for consolidation where SB slowly assembles a team for the future. Things are going OK at the moment and I still think we will get 8th at the seasons end.

    Lets be happy with the progress we have made rather than swinging from delusion to depression like a pendulum, FFS!!

  6. They break our hearts one way one week and another the next. It’s scant comfort to say that we knew going into this game that the defence was in tatters. And at least we never stopped fighting. In keeping with the optimistic spirit of the season, I’ll say there’s no shame in a 4-3 defeat. But, of course, no points either. Reality — what a concept.
    Was a slump in our season inevitable? Probably. Does Bruce need to do some creative buying and selling next month? Absolutely. I still think it’s too soon to start speculating about how long his tenure at the SoL should be. I continue to have faith in him long-term. But that could be the eggnog talking.
    All the best to you and yours, Pete. Whatever the coming year brings, may your pen never waver. And, no, that’s not a euphemism….

  7. I’ve been to the brass band contest there – we watched at Greenfield. It was excellent … all the bands parading through the towns, then performing at open air stages. Well worth a visit.

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