Give the lad a break. OK, he shouldn’t have done it. Yes, his rightful place was probably outside offering to “mind” people’s cars. But at a game when much else from Liverpool was nasty and snarling – read on for mention of Carragher but Rafa and Benayoun ought to be ashamed of their vile responses to serious injuries), he at least brought something we could all ( or most of us) laugh about. Pete Sixsmith describes the day footballing history was made ….
In 45 years of watching football, I’ve never seen anything like it. It was an absolutely amazing occurrence and I doubt I shall ever see anything like it again.
The 47,000 who were there will be able to tell their grandchildren that “Yes, I saw it…….. a full 90 minutes from Steed Malbranque.”
Steed had a tremendous first half, a decent first half of the second and then faded away as the game drew to its close. My friend Pete Horan summed him up perfectly by saying that he uses so much of his lower body strength with his probing runs and his ability to retain the ball in tight situations that he is bound to tire. He had a very good game on Saturday.
So did Lorik Cana. In 11 years’ time, secondary school teachers will be taking registers in Sunderland and the class will no longer have three kids called Jack, two named Demi and one with a proper name like Peter, Colin or Joan. Half the boys will be called Lorik and half the girls will be Cana, if he maintains the level of performance he turned in yesterday.
He was brilliant in midfield, winning the ball and using it in a very safe and secure away despite another early (and entirely justified) booking. When he lined up in the middle of the back four for the second half, I was worried that his shortcomings might be exposed. Nothing to worry about! He was brilliant, particularly in the last quarter of an hour, where his towering headers and crunching tackles saw off a wretched Liverpool side.
I could go on – and I will. Ferdinand coped very well at left back, Bardsley had a blinder and Turner never missed the opportunity to rattle a passing Red (or dirty chocolate as they were on Saturday). How about him being a wild card for South Africa?
Cattermole was excellent, winning tackles for fun and using the ball far better than I ever thought he could. He has made me go back on my reservations about signing him. Clearly a master stroke by The Brucester, which exposes me as a complete and utter know nothing, compared with the genius that is Steve.
Reidy was as good as ever and was always looking to open up the game. How Liverpool could have done with someone with his flair and imagination instead of the pedestrian dossers who made up their midfield. He (Reid) let himself down a wee bit towards the end by giving the ball away too easily, but here is another player flourishing under the new regime.
Bent and Jones combined really well up front and look a partnership. Kenwyne did remarkably well, considering that he had Skrtl pushing, shoving and hanging on to him like Laurel and Hardy trying to get a piano up a flight of stairs. Bent is the hardest working forward I have seen in a long time. He never stops, causing defenders to make errors by his incessant movement.
Jordan Henderson showed what a fine player he could be while Bolo Zenden showed what a fine player he has been and continues to be when they filled the centre of midfield. I would imagine I wasn’t the only one who was worried as Cana dropped back and Cattermole departed on a stretcher, but these two did a splendid job.
So did Fraizer Campbell when he replaced a clearly fading Kenwyne Jones twenty minutes from the end. Good to see Jamie Carragher showing those traditional Scouse qualities of fair play and honesty by suggesting to Mr Jones that our Caribbean King was putting it on. And they wonder why we don’t like them.
Oh, and don’t forget the crowd. Maybe we don’t sing or clap in a choreographed way like some clubs, or take our shirts off and flash our beer guts as others do, but a Sunderland crowd will back its team if it sees effort, commitment and a desire to be at the club. We got all three of those on Saturday and we roared the players’ home.
At the end, there was a communion between the red and white shirts on the pitch and the red and white bedecked men, women and children on the terraces. It augurs well for the future.
And what about Liverpool? To call them awful would be mild criticism. Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley must be looking down and shaking their heads at an expensively assembled team who showed little craft, little heart and little resemblance to the Liverpool teams of the past, who would roll over Sunderland. We’re making progress, they are going backwards.
The beach ball incident did not cover up the fact that they should have been beaten by 2 or 3. Benitez, to his credit, did not seek to hide behind it and accepted that Liverpool were not good enough to beat Sunderland. I don’t think I have ever heard those words before; sound great don’t they!!!