Pete Sixsmith has been more selective in the season that ends today, especially with London away games and ripoff ticket prices. He still got to most matches – including White Hart Lane this afternoon – and, as often happens, The Observer came calling for his appraisal of what he had witnessed, asking him to award marks out of 10 and nominate the season’s best this and that. All before today’s game, of course. Pete wil be back to round off our own series of end-of-season reviews …
Another successful season at the Stadium of Light as we comfortably avoided relegation five days before the final game.
Add to that some turgid football,two disastrous cup defeats to mediocre Championship sides, the demise of a manager who everyone wanted to succeed and the arrival of a head coach who brought unwelcome political baggage with him, and you can see that it really has been a belter.
In fact, it has been the most underwhelming and disappointing of the 50 seasons I have watched Sunderland.
Next season has to be better – perhaps we can avoid relegation before the cricket season starts? I would give it a four out of 10 – and three of those are for the win at SJP.
Of the players, Simon Mignolet has been outstanding and Danny Rose had a very successful loan with us. Steven Fletcher scored vital goals and John O’Shea tried to marshal a defence that was as reliable as a 1988 Austin Maestro. On the other hand, Adam Johnson was in and out, poor Danny Graham looked lost and James McClean, simply, was consistently awful.
Martin O’Neill never had the crowd turn against him, out of respect for his love of Charlie Hurley. But under him, the players never got going. A 3/10 for him, I’m afraid. Paolo Di Canio engineered a glorious win against Newcastle, but lost his way in the final games so he gets a 6/10.
What we don’t need in the transfer window are players from relegated clubs. I imagine that Di Canio will look to Europe for some signings and will want at least one central defender and a creative midfield player. There will be a fair few of the current squad looking for new employers.
Best fans: Everton always impress and Southampton brought a lot for a Sunday game.
Worst fans: As always, The Horse Botherers were not welcome; Fulham’s away following would be an embarrassment if they had one.
Top Team (Based on what I saw):
Szcezney; Azpilicueta, Dawson, Hangeland, Shaw; Morrison, Fellaini, Mata, Bale; Lukaku, Benteke.