Pete Sixsmith found the first half against Bolton deadly dull, the second satisfying enough to be able to look back with a more positive view of the whole game. Can we actually look forward to the first decent FA Cup run since Mick McCarthy took us to a semi-final (v Millwall) that we should have coasted?…
It’s nice to win an FA Cup tie. In all the years I have followed Sunderland we have fluctuated between good runs (73, 76, 92 and 04) and abysmal defeats (Everton 66, Orient 72, Brentford 06, Wigan 08 – feel free to insert any others) so it was good to win and to win a decent game against a side who seemed to take the competition and the game seriously.
For Ricky, it must have been a good feeling to get that first win under the belt as full time manager, while for the likes of Diouf and Chimbonda it must have been good to get a game in the first team.
The team looked well balanced with two wide men rather than having Reid and Malbranque tucked in.
Edwards showed one or two flashes but Diouf was excellent. He is an interesting character. Fingers have been pointed at him as a disruptive element in the dressing room, whatever this means. Has he been making paper planes out of Roy’s team briefings? Was he sniggering away in French with Djibril while Ricky was giving a breakdown of Portsmouth’s weaknesses? Or did he commit the ultimate sin of fighting with rulers with Danny Collins instead of watching the DVD of Manchester United’s attacking options? This is my definition of disruption.
Diouf seems an intelligent guy. This morning’s papers are saying that all he wants to do is to play football and that is the main reason for him (possibly) leaving in the transfer window.
He hasn’t made the best of starts at Sunderland but he knows Sbragia and Ricky may well be able to get more out of him than a clearly exasperated Keane could. For someone who comes from a poor country like Senegal, the Premier League, its excesses and its skew-whiff values must be rather hard for him to take in.
Pascal Chimbonda is another of the summer signings who has not impressed. His performance on Saturday must have made many fans desperately hope that he can make a go of it. He has the most sublime touch and he was able to give us attacking options down the right that the honest, committed but ultimately workmanlike Phil Bardsley does not. Bardsley is a better defender but his distribution is awful. Chimbonda reads a game well, covered Nozzer on more than one occassion and linked well with Edwards and Cisse.
We scored two good goals which shows how effective Jones and Cisse are. Not yet a partnership of Gates and Gabbiadini or Quinn and Phillips class, but they may be getting there.
Neither is keen on chasing lost causes and both can appear uninterested at times, but it is a brave or foolish central defender who writes them off and assumes that they don’t care. I would back both to score 15+ goals this season.
I can’t let Steve Bennett’s display pass without comment. Utterly useless. That’s the comment. Evidence? His refusal to book Nolan for a nasty tackle on the impressive Kieran Richardson. Nolan caught him deliberately on the heel in a successful attempt to put him out of the game. A clear yellow card, but Nolan already had one and Seasick Steve didn’t fancy flourishing the red. Yet another poor referee who has no feel for or understanding of the game.
All being well I will be at Blyth tonight to run an eye over our next opponents. The romantic in me wants Spartans to win, but being a sensible and practical person, it is clear that a weakened Blackburn side should be too good for them. Blyth have some hostile and unpleasant fans but they would help to fill the Stadium if they got through. I would imagine Blackburn will bring no more thatn the miserable turnout from Bolton – 700 if they were lucky.