Flooding the Manchester United dressing room with a burst pipe was a great ruse. But after the plumbing-delayed start, we couldn’t quite turn general supremacy into victory. The second half was more even, but we still had more chances to clinch it – …
So Steed Malbranque had two decent chances. Bolo Zenden hit a post. Darren Bent had a half-chance. We outplayed Manchester United for long periods of this game – and yet, after yet another stonking display against Big Club opposition (four in a row), we had to settle for a draw.
That’s Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. Four games from which we might have got absolutely nothing, but from which we ended up with six points. And for the second time in those games, we were entitled to feel we had done enough to merit a win.
Admittedly all I had to go on was the BBC Radio Newcastle radio commentary via the official SAFC club site – and intermittent internet stream footgage. I cannot bring myself to rely solely on an internet stream that I know is many seconds or even, in one case today, minutes behind the action.
But the commentary from Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett was good, if partisan (pro-SAFC despite the name of the station).
And there did not seem to be the slightest doubt that Sunderland deserved to go in at half-time with a lead of at least one goal. United improved in the second half but once again, we seemed easily the better side.
In that first period, virtually all the action – with the exception of an obligatory bit of Nani rolling around hoping for whatever he was hoping for (and that incident I did catch on the web) – was in the Manchester United half.
Malbranque went desperately close after one great move involving Cattermole; other moves ended in a stream of corners, on none of which – typically – could we capitalise.
Just a pity the chance, not the only one of the half but the best, fell to Steed: good as he is in most aspects of his game, finishing is not his prime asset.
And we – Bolo – also hit the post. From the East Stand, Pete Sixsmith’s HT verdict was “0-0 but by far the better side”. If you are a United fan and really want to be annoyed, see his full time verdict; one of our own wisecrackers leaving the ground shouted “Bruce Out” to mark his annoyance at our failure to turn such superiority into goals.
United are past masters at turning it on just when necessary. But we ended the game on the attack and by far the likelier of the two sides to clinch it.
This is mightily encouraging stuff for any Sunderland fan – provided we can now take the same spirit, skill and discipline to theoretically lesser tests against Blackburn, Villa and Newcastle. And gain the cutting edge we seem just now to lack.