A spring term report ahead of stern Anfield test

beachball

Are we getting carried away? I have rarely known Sunderland fans in such upbeat spirits ahead of what is, on paper, a really tough game. Ian Lynch*, our latest guest writer, is another Mackem who believes we can claim at least a point yesterday. Let us hope our gutsy display the other night is not placed in perspective by this scoreline: Chelsea 7 Aston Villa 1 (at least we managed two consolation at the Bridge).
Ian belongs to the Blackcats e-mail loop but does not post often – annually, on his own calculations. But this amusing and predominantly optimistic State of the Team assessment cried out for a wider audience …

At the moment, it seems clear that we have the makings of a first XI for next season that has a world-class keeper, experience and strength at the back, pace and invention in midfield and goals up front.

All we need is a left back who can attack as well as defend. And for our young midfielders to get better, not worse. That would be nice.

Consider the evidence:

Goalkeeper

Craig Gordon is playing to his potential. Finally.

Defenders

I like Turner + one classy national captain as the centre backs.

Hutton can’t defend, but who cares. We’ve enough feckin’ defenders who can’t do anything else but defend. Sign him up.

Left back, well, if Hutton’s on the right then anyone who can defend and pass to a teammate will do for now. Certainly leaves room for the team to be improved anyway. Wayne Bridge might be available (I’ll explain why later).

As cover, we certainly have mediocrity-in-depth. As long as no more than one of McCartney, Ferdinand, Killagallon and Bardsley is on the pitch at any one time, we should be ok. And, of course, we mustn’t let Jean-Yves Mvoto anywhere near the club again.

Although, I’m not sure about Bardsley, he does seems a magnet for disaster. Maybe take him out paintballing with John Oster.

Midfielders

LCat could be anything, he could be the next, well, I can’t remember a world class-midfielder in my generation other than Bracewell pre-injury and Cat can get forward, so someone capable of breaking into the England squad. Or he could be the next Gavin McCann. Brucey says be positive, so let’s hope he goes forwards rather than sideways (and then backwards).

Henderson looks a player. He must be, because Harry Redknapp said so.

KR is starting to do a good impression of a creative, box-to-box midfielder. If he ever raises his mental level above muppet, he might finally become a good player. Is petulance a treatable condition?

+ 1 creative, slightly-odd looking left winger who likes a puff/pint/primp/punt. We just need to sign Mat Etherington and we’ve got the set.

– Not sure where that leaves Cana. But as one of the above will always be suspended/injured/sulking/in rehab he’ll likely get a game anyway.

+ Meyler + Colback as further cover.


Attack

Frazier Campbell has shown he can finish and has pace. He also seems to read an attack better than he’s given credit for. I’m going to include him in the plus column – at least until the other team scores first and his head drops – hopefully not for three months this time.

Bent. What can I say? Fringe international-class strikers who get 20 goals a season are as good as it gets for us.

Kenwyne Jones – flawed – but as good as there is on his going days. On the bright side, if FC can provide competition for places and he has to compete for selection every week, he might finally turn sporadic brilliance into consistent quality. So I’ve no doubts at all he’ll be excellent next season – probably for a Jose Mourhino-managed Man City captained by John Terry. We’ll get £12m in used fivers + Wayne Bridge in a deal valued at £13m.

+ A Big Lad Who Can’t Score Goals to replace Kenwyn as the foil for DB/FC. Lots of likely lads available for this plum role 🙂

Heskey is the obvious aging BLWCSG, but with Benjani, McCarthy, Mido, Beattie, + Yakubu* likely to be looking for a new employer, Brucey is spoilt for choice!

+ Noble + Waghorn as further cover.

*actually, Yak might be a reasonable gamble and would at least be injured regularly enough to give the younger lads plenty of opportunities.

* Ian Lynch:

I’m a 38 year old part-time freelance copywriter/part-time driver for my local occupational therapy unit. I used to be a journalist but I don’t drink as much these days (a bit below the belt – ed). My Granddad moved to Sunderland (Fulwell) and my Dad left. I was brought up in the East Midlands as a season-ticket holder for European champions Nottingham Forest. But Sunderland was always my team, thanks to visits to see granddad and the trips to Roker Park, where supporters supported loudly rather than munched on crisps noisily. Nowadays, I don’t see enough games live, but broadband internet keeps me in the picture. I live in Sutton, Surrey/South London with my partner Nada. We are expecting our first child in early July, hopefully not on the 11th. The signs are good, the baby kicks with both feet.

** We feel sure news of the beachball goal reach Bohol in the Philippines. The photo comes from there and was posted at “besighyawn”‘s Flickr pages. Get one inflated for Darren in time for tomorrow, Lads.

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