For a mid-season review of Sunderland’s performances so far, The Observer turned as ever to Pete Sixsmith. Here’s his verdict …
The season has been, er, ok so far with 10 draws, two wins and three defeats which just about says it all. Hard to beat (although Southampton may disagree with that) but not quite sharp enough to win games. Hopefully the high will come today between 1.30 and 3.30 with the low the rather bewildering collapse at St Mary’s. Mark so far … 6/10
Lee Cattermole has been outstanding for us this season turning in a series of good performances culminating in a superb display against Chelsea as we softened them up at the end of November. His midfield chum Seb Larsson has also done well and seems happy in this role. John O’Shea has marshalled the back four, Santiago Vergini has won over many doubters and Anthony Reveillere looks quality. Pity the attackers haven’t been as effective as the defenders.
No real flops, although poor Jozy Altidore continues to look as if he would be happier playing for Hull Kingston Rovers. Billy Jones’s injuries are worrying – we are really short of full backs. Jack Rodwell needs to show why we paid a large fee for him.
The manager has done well. He is still picking up the pieces from the mess that Martin O’Neill and Paolo Di Canio left behind and has done well in creating a good atmosphere amongst the players. They seem to be a “together” group who are impressed by Gus’s professionalism after managers who were either absentees or autocrats. He has a clear view of what this fine old club can do and it is to be hoped that he is given time to see it through. No money wasted in the last transfer window should endear him to the owner. 8/10
We clearly need another striker to complement Fletcher and Wickham. Altidore will be away to foreign climes and it is difficult to bring in players from overseas in January – we found that out last year with Scocco. Domestically, someone like Danny Ings or Troy Deeney might fit in with what Poyet is trying to achieve or maybe Kris Commons from Celtic. Another central defender is required as well, as Wes Brown is in his footballing dotage and will not be with us next season. And if Iniesta or Messi fancy playing for a club with a glorious history, they would be made very welcome on the banks of the River Wear.
[Was this a question as to who should play Poyet in a film?] As for playing Gus, it could be Tony Hart because he was good at drawing. I’ll get my coat.