Pete Sixsmith wandered gloomily away from the Stadium of Light after another mugging. He was trying hard to be philosophical. Overhearing two other Sunderland supporters moaning loudly about what they had just witnessed, he mildly suggested there may have been positives. Read on, and deep, for the priceless retort …
Another home defeat after another second half collapse and another opportunity wasted to move up the league and claim the “Best Side In the North East” title. There’s not a whole lot to write about to be honest.
Started well, could have scored three before slack marking gave Jody Craddock the opener. Our midfield players get into good positions and then miss the target on a regular basis.
A well taken equalizer from the excellent Stéphane Sessegnon and as we heard the half time scores there was a feeling that we could really dump Wolves in the clarts if we could turn the clear superiority we had into goals.
I imagine the half time talks in the respective dressing rooms were very different. In ours, it was probably: “Let’s keep on doing what we have been doing well. Win the ball, don’t give it away. Get behind them and knock good, deep crosses in. They can’t defend.”
In the away dressing room, the broken nosed old chamberpot thrower that is Mick McCarthy was probably saying something like “get behind them. They have a right back at left back; Jarvis, you’re on, get at him. They have a centre half who is struggling and a keeper who can’t catch. Throw the ball in at them and let’s see what Fletch can do. And we’ll go wide.”
It was the fondly remembered broken-nosed one who triumphed. He was right about Mignolet, who failed dismally to deal with an excellent cross from Jarvis. He was right about Mensah who had a game of Steve Hetzke proportions and completely failed to challenge Fletcher. And he got it right about Bardsley, who lost Elokobi in the box for the clincher.
Many in the crowd were pleased for Mick, including this scribe. He is a genuine football man and he has done well at Wolves. They should be able to drag out the point they need next week to avoid following West Ham into the darkness of the Championship. Good luck to a good set of fans.
What about us? Colback did well and looks a regular for next season. He has the look of Paul Bracewell about him. Sessegnon was lively and intelligent and creates space for himself. He will do well behind whatever strike force we assemble in the summer (Klose and Bothroyd if the rumours are to be believed – which they probably aren’t). Riveros looked decent, although I am not sure that he can deal with the pace of our game. I would be surprised to see him still with us next season.
On the other hand, we have a goalkeeping problem. Too many mistakes from Mignolet mean that if Gordon is not ready for August, we may need to invest. Mensah was shocking and I was disappointed to see that he failed to acknowledge Louis Laing as he replaced him. Like Riveros, he’s a man I would not expect back at the club next season.
The rest were no better than ok and although the now customary home defeat (two wins and a draw out of the last 9; not conducive to good season sales) was greeted with some boos, it wasn’t as scathing as the criticism after the West Brom and Fulham games.
It was still a disappointment though and, pleased as I was for Wolves – a proper club, run by seemingly decent people- I left the Stadium for the final time this year with a heavy heart knowing that another opportunity to claim local bragging rights had been thrown away.
On the way back to the car, I overheard a conversation between two fans bemoaning another woeful second half. Springing to our defence, I said “Come on, there are some positives we can take from this”. “Aye”, said one of them, “we don’t have to come back here until August.” As they used to say in Punch magazine, collapse of stout party.
West Ham on Sunday and that should be an interesting one. Their abject surrender at Wigan means they have nothing to play for and their fans may well be in a mutinous mood. I think that many of us will be more interested in what is going on at Spurs, Old Trafford, Stoke and Molineux, rather than a dead rubber between two serial underachievers. And they are going to charge us £46; be prepared for empties in the away end.