Poyetry in Motion from Cardiff: never say die attitude brings reward

Jake captures the Bard, with thanks to Owen Lennox
Jake captures the Bard, with thanks to Owen Lennox

There was turmoil off the pitch at Cardiff where the owner began with a smile on his face, no doubt convinced that he could convince the home support that he knows best. No sign of turmoil on the pitch, where the red Bluebirds started brightly and had Gus Poyet’s men on the backfoot. Unlike at Goodison the centre back pairing of Roberge and Diakite were looking decidedly shaky and some slack marking gave the Welsh side a two goal lead. An enforced substitution at half time (the latest is Borini is out of hospital but staying in Cardiff overnight) and two others later in the game proved decisive. With the Black Cats gaining the upper hand in the latter stages it was two of the subs who got the goals that took a point back to Wearside and left Mr Tan apparently booing his own team. Our Uruguayan coach is effusive in his praise of the team’s battling qualities in his post-match e-mail …

Jake says "flipping heck" or words to that effect
Jake says “flipping heck” or words to that effect

Read morePoyetry in Motion from Cardiff: never say die attitude brings reward

Poyetry in Motion at Everton: ‘let’s hail Mannone, Roberge, Diakite and Ki’

For once Jake is a happy man
For once Jake is a happy man

Gus Poyet had every reason to be pleased at 5pm. What had been impossible for 15 years or so at Goodison had just become possible – a Sunderland win. The fans had chanted ‘we’re going to win the league’ even at 0-0. The reaction at full time suggested that dream had been realised. Here’s what Gus made of it in his post-match e-mail …

Jake captures the Bard, with thanks to Owen Lennox
Jake captures the Bard, with thanks to Owen Lennox

Read morePoyetry in Motion at Everton: ‘let’s hail Mannone, Roberge, Diakite and Ki’

The Robson Report: crucial time ahead for Poyet and Short

Jeremy Robson sees a ray of hope in what to date has been a lousy season. But to keep the hope alive he asks the owner to once again back the manager/head coach in the forthcoming transfer window.

Jeremy Robson: looking to the window
Jeremy Robson: looking to the window

Where does the hope come from?

We might be bottom of the league and struggling for victories. Well we are! There’s no might about it. What has to happen in both the short and longer term to assure a brighter future? It’s the bleak midwinter but there may be brighter skies ahead.

My biggest fear with the January transfer window looming is that Poyet doesn’t get the players he needs to save us from the drop. Ellis Short needs to back his man and give him what he requiress to bring in: a striker who recognizes the need to put the ball between the posts; an attacking midfield player who can do the same; a solid reliable and experienced centre half and a goalkeeper with a real pedigree. Throw a left back in there and you probably have Gus’s shopping basket ready for the checkout. Give the man what he needs to keep us up Ellis. Poyet needs to be convinced to buy in totally to the club and link his future to our own.

There’s an element of brinkmanship going on with any incoming transfers because they have to be players who are prepared to give Championship football a go for at least one full season. Quite who he is targeting we won’t know of course. The most obvious place to look would be to the Championship itself but that is a huge risk. He has to bring in players who can save our PL place but remain aware that we may not be a PL side come August. It’s a huge challenge but I still believe that Poyet is the best man for the club at this time. It’s just so unfortunate that he has had to follow in the immediate footsteps of a triumvirate of bad ones.

It’s vital that Short can keep Poyet at the club and to do that Poyet needs to feel that he is in control and has the opportunity to build his own team, unencumbered by Di Fanti. In the event that there are tensions and divisions between manager and Director of Football, then the latter needs to be sent down the road. A lot of our supporters possibly feel that after the influx of such poor quality players during the summer, that he should have gone already.

Everything that Ellis Short does in the coming months has to be geared towards keeping Poyet because despite results his influence has been profound. He is the best manager we have had in a long time and he needs to be given the time, resources and opportunity to do the job his way. At this point he hasn’t had the chance to field a single player of his own choosing but has still got more out of the existing squad than his predecessors. The biggest fear for me is not relegation but losing the manager who will bring us back to the PL in 2015 leaner, stronger, and far more competitive than the one that’s struggling so badly at the moment.

Ha’way the lads and Happy Christmas to all who visit Salut!Sunderland.


Join the Salut! Sunderland Facebook group – click anywhere along this line



And follow us on Twitter: @salutsunderland … click along this line

Click anywhere on this sentence for a glance at the home page – and highlights of all the most recent articles …

Jake flags the new feature allowing you to have your say on topic or off
Jake flags the new feature allowing you to have your say on topic or off

Fancy leaving a comment? Not sure what you have to say fits this post? Go to the new feature – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there.

Everton v Sunderland Guess the Score: some sunshine to end bleak midwinter?

Salut! Sunderland wishes all readers and contributors a much merrier Christmas than the plight of Sunderland AFC suggests is possible, and hopes against hope for a brighter new year. Enjoy the eccentric choice of a gallery of photos from the Royal Library of Denmark …

Is it possible?

Read moreEverton v Sunderland Guess the Score: some sunshine to end bleak midwinter?

Sixer’s Norwich Soapbox: no wonderful life at the Stadium of Light

Whatever pre Christmas spirit there was in Sixsmith Towers on Saturday morning had evaporated like the fumes of flaming brandy on the Christmas Pudding, by the time Martin Atkinson blew for full time after yet another disappointing afternoon at the Stadium of Light. It was no secret that this was a game which could define the rest of the season. A win would still have left Gus Poyet’s men bottom but with a narrowing gap that would surely act as an incentive in the winnable games to come. Anything less would mean what was already an uphill task would involve taking the steeper route on gammy knees with no stick. Pete Sixsmith left in a mood reminiscent of George Bailey before his meeting with Clarence Oddbody. It’ll take a win at Everton, another in Wales and a third on New Year’s Day to convince him that somewhere, there is an angel yet to earn his wings, looking down on him.

Cats fail to clip Canaries' wings
Cats fail to clip Canaries’ wings

I SUSPECT THAT’S IT

Yet another disappointing performance against a side who are, in theory, at about the same level as we are i.e. hanging on to the Premier League and all the riches and entertainment that it brings. On Saturday, Norwich climbed a little further away from the precipice. We are over the edge and desperately clinging on but only because teams above us are proving to be almost as useless as we are.

As it is Christmas, we should look for some positives. We didn’t lose. We kept a clean sheet. It didn’t rain. And that’s about it. Not much is it? Oh, and Norwich didn’t look that good either.

However, the negatives far outweighed the positives. Another red card and this time one that will not be overturned. I haven’t seen it on TV as I was not prepared to sit through Match of the Day until the bitter end to have my views confirmed that this was a foolish and totally unnecessary blot on Wes Brown’s hitherto impressive season. It looked to me that all the frustration of being stuck in a side that is heading for the Championship came out and he clattered into the cartoon character that is Ricky van Wolfswinkel. Not a great example to set and indicative of the awful season that we are undergoing. So, Brown can have an extended Christmas break and will miss the next three games that will now define our season.

Anything less than 6 points will leave us with a hopeless task in avoiding the ninth relegation that I have witnessed. However, to get six points, it is essential to score goals. We have gone 180 minutes in the League without hitting the back of the net. Last week, we hit the bar and the post and forced Jaaskelainen into a couple of saves. Schwarzer had to extend himself on Tuesday night and we buzzed around The Pensioners’ goal.

However, John Ruddy had a quiet game in the Canaries net – a couple of catches and parries being the extent of his activity. Post and bar remained intact, although we did put a number of shots into the crowd.
That number was considerably less than it could have been as our players consistently failed to get a shot in. How many touches are needed to line up the ball? For good players it is one, occasionally two. Ours need three or four as they move, crab like, across the 18 yard line.

Jozy Altidore was the biggest culprit. He did well on Tuesday but had a shocker yesterday and looked like a player who cannot score. The Dutch league must be an absolute doddle, looking at the number of forwards who do well there and flop in this country. Remember Alfonso Alves at Middlesbrough? Has Wilfreid Bony been a success at Swansea? The midfield was pedestrian and allowed Norwich to filter back to stop any surges from Borini who looked as if he might do something. But the ponderous build up was not to his liking and he had to pick the ball up deep or move inside to collect it, negating his pace and his enthusiasm.

It really was a depressing afternoon. The teams around us are little better at the moment, but some or all may gather a bit of momentum and leave us stranded. To gain anything from this season, we have to pick up the pace and find someone who can play a quick, killer ball to whoever we play up front. That will almost certainly be either Fletcher or Altidore as neither Wickham nor Graham are likely to be recalled early from their respective loans. Mandron looks a work in progress and may be a season away from first team football.

What we need is a forward who can play alongside the big centre forward that we have been landed with. Could that be Borini feeding off whoever it is? Could we play with our forwards higher up the field? Can Poyet and his coaches encourage a quicker, more accurate final ball, played before the opposition smother us in midfield?

On Thursday, after we have all stuffed ourselves on poultry and pudding, we are at Goodison Park, a ground where our record of winning is about as long as a pleasurable Cliff Richard singles list. Everton are looking to offload Jelavic and Heitinger, both of whom are looking for regular football before the World Cup. We need a short term boost. These two may provide it – I can’t see many other players queuing up to don red and white stripes in the January window.
So, not a happy Christmas for Sunderland fans. Most of us are resigned to relegation, older ones like me knowing a relegation team when they see one. There is hope, but games have to be won and time is running out. There are other clubs in turmoil (Cardiff and their mad owner) and others who could get dragged into it (Norwich, who looked little better than average) but none are as poor as we are.

Bah Humbug!
Bah Humbug!

And a Merry Christmas to all our readers.

Pure Poyetry: No Christmas stuffing for Delia’s canaries

Jake captures the Bard, with thanks to Owen Lennox
Jake captures the Bard, with thanks to Owen Lennox

John McCormick writes: Even before today’s match I wasn’t looking forward to Thursday. Not only are Everton playing well, there’s hardly any public transport running and it’s bound to rain as I make the long walk back to wherever I can pick up a taxi. So when Gus said in his post-match e-mail that he was disappointed I thought “Join the club, Mate”. Anyway, enough of the joys of living down south, here’s Gus telling M Salut what else he thought:

Read morePure Poyetry: No Christmas stuffing for Delia’s canaries

Poyetry in Motion as Chelsea sent packing: ‘show same belief vs Norwich’

Jake captures the Bard, with thanks to Owen Lennox
Jake captures the Bard, with thanks to Owen Lennox

Gus Poyet said in his post-match e-mail what we must all have been thinking: a rousing night for all who support Sunderland but now let’s do it in the more important setting of Premier League football. Start catching up those just above us, ready to overtake at least three of them, and the Capital Cup semis become a delicious bonus …

Read morePoyetry in Motion as Chelsea sent packing: ‘show same belief vs Norwich’

Echoes of Niall Quinn keeping faith (maybe) amid the gloom

A message from Niall, and behind him an earlier SAFC hero ...
A message from Niall …
No one will thank me for the reminder of a painful anniversary but on this day 11 days ago, more accurately the evening of Dec 9 2002, Sunderland lost 3-0 at home to Manchester City.

Earlier that day, as I have recalled here before, I had joined a queue at Canary Wharf, where I then worked, to buy a couple of copies of Niall Quinn’s autobiography and have them signed by the great man, who was out of the team because of injury.

Read moreEchoes of Niall Quinn keeping faith (maybe) amid the gloom

Sixer’s Soapbox: Spurs too sharp

Jake:  Sixer and Sobs contemplate a long hard winter
Jake: Sixer and Sobs contemplate a long hard winter

John McCormick writes: Until recently I’d been on the same wavelength as Gus when it came to picking teams but I have to admit Gardner’s inclusion against Chelsea confused me. Then for Spurs Gus reverted to the kind of team I’d have picked, with me hoping AJ would realise he had to turn in a performance or two to remain a chosen starter. And did AJ perform? Well, sort of. But if he and the rest of the team that turned out against Spurs wanted to think about a proper shift they could do worse than reflect on the likes of Sobs from ALS and our own Pete Sixsmith, who labour on, week in, week out, to try to bring us some optimism when the overpaid bunch they support turn in yet another pathetic performance. And with that rant over I turn to Pete for his take on the weekend’s events:

SoapboxSPURS

Not a good weekend football wise, was it? Stoke, Fulham, Palace, Norwich all won and put a little more daylight between us and safety. Cardiff and West Ham were the big losers but are still six and five points respectively ahead of us. It doesn’t look good.

For the first time this season, I came out of the ground seriously contemplating relegation. Up until yesterday, it had been a relegation battle, but this performance almost convinced me that Doncaster, Bournemouth and Millwall are likely to be be paying their first visit to the Stadium of Light next season.

This was a disappointing showing from a group of players who have experienced the bounce of a new manager coming in after the previous much disliked one had departed and who had mentally and physically committed themselves to the SAFC cause. But against Spurs, they looked physically and mentally tired. The crisp passing that we saw against Manchester City and at Stoke (before KF changed it all) looked far more laboured and too many players found it hard to raise their game for the second time in three days. A buoyant Spurs side were well set to take advantage of it.

Jake: We all want to
Jake: We all want to

For some players like Bardsley, Larsson, Fletcher and Colback, this is yet another relegation scrap, the fourth or fifth that they have faced in succession. For O’Shea, Brown and Giaccherini, it is in direct contrast to years spent racking up Championship titles with their clubs. Instead, they are playing with colleagues who are nowhere near as good as the ones they have left behind.

Poyet sounded as down as the occupants of the male toilets in the East Stand, but far more animated. It was quiet in the toilet, there was little conversation, just a collection of resigned sighs as we looked at our feet and realised that the game was not far from being up.

The manager didn’t sound too happy either in his post-match comments. Apparently, the press had to wait for an hour before he appeared to talk to them, and he was distinctly low key and pessimistic, making it clear that the honeymoon period was over. He now knew what he had to work with and I suspect he didn’t like it much.
Some will say that we were unlucky in that Lee Mason missed a blatant handball by Sandro and that the Spurs winner was an own goal by John O’Shea. That Defoe might easily have had a second half hat trick should bring that line of reasoning to an end. Throughout the team we lacked pace and guile, none more so than Jack Colback. The more I see of him, the more he falls into that category of “useful player”, a step up from the likes of Colin Symm, Steve Doyle and Carl Robinson, but only a small, Jimmy Clitheroe type step. He missed an excellent chance in the first half when he went too wide instead of cutting in and thrashed the ball into the side netting after Altidore put him through. Would that the positions had been reversed!

Then, he was outfought and outpaced by Dembele, whose cross was bundled over the line by John O’Shea to give Spurs the lead and to rack up our fifth own goal in nine matches. Unlucky? Absolutely not. Poor defenders concede own goals. O’Shea looked tired and under pressure throughout the game. The midfield lacks any genuine creativity and the opposition will easily work out how we play and will push Ki further and further back. Because of the lack of genuinely good players to take us forward, we will forever be on the back foot and putting pressure on our creaking defence. Brown and O’Shea are hardly in the first flush of youth.

Poyet will at least try things. He opened with Johnson and was rewarded with a well taken goal. Despite his lack of pace, he is one of the few players we have who can strike a ball and who can turn up unannounced and, as such, he needs to be a regular. There is little else with any genuine quality in the club.

The week has been a very poor one for us. There is a heightened feeling that relegation is a matter of when and not if. Poyet is blameless at the moment; he is picking up the pieces left by the previous three managers. Bruce signed a lot of very average players in his final transfer window and we are stuck with them; O’Neill tried to buy quality but both Fletcher and Johnson look weary of playing in a team where things they cannot do are expected of them. The players brought into the club in the summer by whoever it was are just not good enough. Celustka, Mannone and Altidore are probably the pick of them; Giaccherini would be excellent in a good side, but not in one where he has to do so much leg work, while the rest strike me as distinctly average.

Whether Poyet decides to use the likes of Diakite, Roberge, Cabral and Mavrias in the next two absolutely crucial games is a huge decision. They may freshen things up, which is positive, or they may be as poor as we suspect they are, which will leave us bottom of the league and in single figures points wise at Christmas. In 2002 we had 18 points,(would that we had now) while the disastrous Mick McCarthy team had five. This present lot look more like Mick’s team than Wilkinson’s.

West Ham look as bad as we do and they have a crowd that regard Sam Allardyce with the same feelings that the Tory Party of Margaret Thatcher and Norman Tebbit had towards Nelson Mandela. Norwich are a strange side who can fluctuate between the appalling and the mildly effective. We need a minimum of four points and ideally six from these two. Should we continue to miss chances, hoof the ball into our own net or come across referees who can’t recognise a legitimate tackle or a handball in the area, we will be out of this league before the Christmas decorations come down.

It gets harder and harder to keep the faith – but we must try.


Join the Salut! Sunderland Facebook group – click anywhere along this line



And follow us on Twitter: @salutsunderland … click along this line

Click anywhere on this sentence for a glance at the home page – and highlights of all the most recent articles …

Jake flags the new feature allowing you to have your say on topic or off
Jake flags the new feature allowing you to have your say on topic or off

Fancy leaving a comment? Not sure what you have to say fits this post? Go to the new feature – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there.

Pure Poyetry: Spurs dig in as Sunderland fall short

Deputy Editor Malcolm Dawson writes…Another frustrating evening at the Stadium of Light saw another defeat and to my eyes a squad of players who just aren’t good enough to compete with the better sides of the Premier League. The good news is that they are probably good enough to compete with the poorer sides and avoid the drop but today’s results from the other grounds did us few favours. The manager in his post match e-mail also seems to be struggling to explain things whilst having a grasp on reality.

Jake captures the Bard, with thanks to Owen Lennox
Jake captures the Bard, with thanks to Owen Lennox

Dear Colin,

It’s difficult to analyse the game because we were solid, we were trying to play and we scored a good goal. Then we conceded at maybe the wrong time but the second-half was very disappointing. Things happen in football and you never know the consequences – it’s a totally different game if you come in at half-time 1-0. Saying that, we talked about things at half-time and I wanted to go out in the second-half and perform because we were playing against a very good team.

Somehow again we conceded an own goal and then it was too open – we needed to go forward and create something somehow and then we leave space at the back.

At the moment it’s very difficult for the players. That’s the way I understand football and that’s the way I would like this team to play football. I’ve said it a few times and I will repeat it now, we cannot do it for long periods. That’s what we try to change, that’s why we give different options, that’s why we finish playing a little more direct, that’s why we changed the personnel.

We’re trying, nobody can say that we are not trying and the players are trying their best but the table is there and like I always say the table doesn’t lie. Other teams are winning somehow and we don’t, so there’s nothing to complain about. Every single game that comes now is bigger than the one before, we need urgency, we need men, we need people on the pitch who can take it.

We’ll train all week and we’re going to keep trying to make them understand things and try to put it on the pitch on Saturday.

All the best,

Gus Poyet


Join the Salut! Sunderland Facebook group – click anywhere along this line



And follow us on Twitter: @salutsunderland … click along this line

Click anywhere on this sentence for a glance at the home page – and highlights of all the most recent articles …

Jake flags the new feature allowing you to have your say on topic or off
Jake flags the new feature allowing you to have your say on topic or off

Fancy leaving a comment? Not sure what you have to say fits this post? Go to the new feature – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there.