Poyetry in Motion, on Chelsea: ‘an exceptional game of football’

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

Gus Poyet‘s post-match e-mail arrived around the time Mr Pardew was complaining on MOTD that his side had been unfairly treated. What would you rather do, listen to Mr Pardew bleating on or read an e-mail from Gus? I thought so, so with no further ado I logged back on and posted the e-mail for your delectation. Here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth, and now I’m off to bed. I’ve a busy day tomorrow (actually today, it’s after midnight): M Salut’s still off line and there’s Pete’s match summary, Spurs ‘Who are You?’, Guess the Score and a top-notch podcast to look after. See you then, John Mac

Read morePoyetry in Motion, on Chelsea: ‘an exceptional game of football’

Poyetry in Motion from Aston Villa: ‘only thing missing was a goal’

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

In his post-match e-mail, Gus Poyet applauds a solid team performance, rues the great missed chance and hails John O’Shea’s insistence on seeing out the 0-0 draw at Villa Park with a groin injury …

Dear Colin,

Of course we will take the point but we did want three and we were playing for three.

I think that we created the best chances of the game to go out and get those three points, however, we didn’t get them, and so I will have to accept that.

Throughout the game we made it very difficult for the opposition, we competed, passed the ball and it was a very solid performance for the entire 90 minutes, therefore the outcome, as you expect it should be, was positive.

In recent away games we have performed for just one half or maybe struggled in certain areas on the pitch, today I was looking for a full performance from the whole team for 90 minutes and I think we got that.

The only thing missing was a goal, had we got that goal the players would have done exactly what I asked of them; played compact and solidly, as well as being brave enough to get forward and attack.

Jake says "nowts apiece!"
Jake says “nowts apiece!”

[On Giaccherini’s first half chance] On another day, maybe that would have gone in, it’s the situation that we’re in. He mis-hit it and it went over the top, it was unfortunate.

We’re looking like a better team; we need to continue to improve.

Next up there are two games at home. These are important for us because we know the fans there will push us and get behind us – I know they are against Chelsea and Tottenham but we have to have belief going into games with these teams.

John [O’Shea] injured his groin late in the game, he knew we’d made all three changes and he stuck in there, he put himself on the line for the game, which is magnificent. Let’s hope it’s nothing serious and he will be available on Wednesday.

All the best,

Gus Poyet

Sixer’s Stoke City Soapbox: no joy as Brown sees red

Browned off in Staffs
Browned off in Staffs

Wedgewood and Minton, Doulton, Moorcroft and Twyford. All names associated with the Potteries. Now after his performance at the Britannia we can add Kevin Friend’s name to the list. Not so much pottery but potty. His decision to show Brown a red has been widely criticised by all and sundry – though maybe not Mark Hughes – but even Charlie Adam trying hard not to criticise the ref seemed embarrassed in his post match interviews. Peter Sixsmith has endured some disappointing days indulging in his love of sport but events in Brisbane and Wembley were just a precident to another frustrating day watching the Lads in red and white, even if this time they were in blue and yellow.

A DISMAL SATURDAY IN STAFFORDSHIRE

Dismal Saturdays at Stoke happen with monotonous regularity.

If I wanted a cheap laugh, I could say every week, but we’ll pass on that one.

Pete Sixsmith shares his thought's on events at The Britannia Stadium
Pete Sixsmith shares his thought’s on events at The Britannia Stadium

The last few seasons in the Potteries have been fairly dismal. There was an awful 0-0 draw last season which was little better than Wearside League football. We won the year before on a day that was so cold that even the long suffering Stokies, accustomed as they are to watching football on top of a hill in a ground with only one filled in corner, had icicles on their moustaches. And that was only the women.

The year before that, on another nippy day, we contrived to throw away a game that should have been wrapped up long before City equalised and there have been occasions where both Fulop and Gordon have frozen literally and metaphorically at the sight of 6’4” midfielders bearing down on them. Not a happy hunting ground then.

To say that our cause wasn’t helped by the ineptitude and idiocy of Kevin Friend is like saying that the Heads of the Co-op Bank and Toronto’s Mayoral Office have nothing in common. Kev played a blinder, aided and abetted by his assistant, who also played a major part in “The Most Ridiculous Sunderland Sending Off Since Michael Turner at Manchester City” episode – a decision which was not only not overturned but earned an extra game ban for a “frivolous” appeal.

The assistant had given a ludicrous free kick against Brown for a non-existent foul on Jonathan Walters in the twelfth minute. The ball had been won, Walters had gone down with no expectation of a free but the assistant flagged for a foul. There was a widespread shaking of heads and cries of “I say, what a strange decision” from the Sunderland fans stuck in the corner, but the die had been cast or, as they probably still say in the Six Towns, “the clay had been placed on the wheel”. Twenty odd minutes later, and a goal down, Brown made the kind of challenge that he has been making since he was a nipper in Longsight and for which he is renowned. He won the ball, caught Charlie Adam a glancing blow on the ankle before coming away with the ball.

Enter the pantomime villain, Kevin Friend. Clearly influenced by the previous “foul”, he looked, thought and then, to the incredulity of the Sunderland team, bench and support, pulled out a red card and off went Wesley. Uproar from the Sunderland connections – amazement from the Stokies who could hardly believe their luck as one of the obstacles to their first win in 9 departed the field. Now, others may say that we were a goal down to a well taken goal that exposed our defensive frailties, so ultimately, the dismissal made little difference to the outcome. Others (include me in this group) would say that 11 v 10 for an hour is difficult.

Giaccherini, who had been playing well, went off and Roberge filled the gap at the back. He had a good game, looked a decent acquisition and could be a Di Fanti success story – although a certain Italian may disagree. But we didn’t really threaten the Stoke goal. They had a solid group of four at the back and a solid group of four in front of them and despite the best efforts of Adam Johnson, who I thought had an outstanding game, there was no way through.

Fletcher did much better when he wasn’t the lone striker and could have put us ahead in the first half after a superb ball by Johnson put him behind Shawcross. He was not able to get the ball down and Bergovic blocked it. That was the first of two blocks by Bosnia-Herzegovina’s No. 1. The second, also involving Fletcher, could have been a penalty, a sending off and an equaliser. Mr Friend gave nothing. TV replays suggest that he was less wrong on that one than he was on his earlier decision.

N’Zonzi, Stoke’s best player, wrapped it up in the 81st minute and we trooped back to the coach with a number of grievances some imagined but most real. We had played well in the opening twenty minutes, continuing the passing and pressure game that we had practiced against City in the previous game. The opening goal showed our deficiencies in that we did not pick up either N’Zonzi or Adam and Stoke probably had the better of the game after that – not surprising as all but 5 minutes of it were played with a man down.

The red card was thrown into perspective when I saw the tackle that Kevin Mirallas made on Luis Suarez. If Brown’s was a red card, the Belgian’s was worth three: it was high, studs up and caught the player, none of which applied to Brown. Phil Dowd may have been wrong but not anywhere near as wrong as Kevin Friend.

It wrapped up a dismal day which started as I awoke to hear David Warner smashing the England bowling around the Gabba and continued with Jonathan Trott’s eight ball nightmare as I drove to the coach pick up point. It got worse as New Zealand scored the winning try with a mere 20 seconds left to get to the Rugby League World Cup Final and break England’s hearts. Next week’s final will be an antipodean affair with Australia. Then we heard that Palace had won at Hull and we were back propping the rest up. We are still in touch with the other relegation candidates, but we need to start winning games against them. I would have swapped the wins against Newcastle and Manchester City for similar against Hull and Stoke, both of whom will be looking over their shoulders all season.
And to add to the crushing sense of disappointment, the Football Echo announced its closure at the end of this year. The real end of an era. I suspect there may be a nostalgia ridden piece later in the week.


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Birflatt Boy gives Sunderland’s recruitment policy Short shrift.

It’s fair to say that recent results have brought about increased hope in the minds of Sunderland supporters the world over. We know there’s still a long way to go if the club is to get out of the mess in which it finds itself but where, only a few short weeks ago, there was nothing to be seen but the withering flower of certain relegation, the green shoots of optimism are poking through. Martin O’Neill’s sacking, Paulo Di Canio’s appointment, player revolts and Di Canio’s subsequent dismissal have provoked debate amongst the red and white faithful about just who is responsible for the precarious position which Gus Poyet inherited. Through it all the club’s owner Ellis Short has, by and large, escaped unscathed from criticism but never shy to vent his opinions, Salut! Sunderland’s Birflatt Boy has a question him.

The Three Stooges

Birflatt Boy adding weight to the argument
Birflatt Boy adding weight to the argument

It’s time for Ellis Short to answer a few very simple questions. In fact he needs to answer only one simple question. What the bloody hell is going on at our club?

Paulo Di Canio has eventually spoken out about his time at Sunderland, brief though it was. Our former “coach” has revealed that he didn’t want any of the players that were signed during the summer. In fact he went on to say that he thought 80% of our players should be English. To the mind of a simple Birflattian, this is only confirming what most of us thought, and assumed was the basis of SAFC’s “new model.”

As we know, the early models of any car are more likely to spend considerably more time at the dealership with a whole host of glitches and problems than later models. This SAFC hot hatch was no exception. Back in the summer PDC made it clear that he wanted a playmaker. He “has to be English.” It was widely assumed that the player he was referring to was Tom Huddlestone, who went to Hull City. In retrospect it’s even more apparent that Huddlestone was the man he wanted, but PDC didn’t get him. Instead he was provided with a Korean loanee by way of Swansea. Our scouting is being led by two Italians who knew nothing (hopefully they know a little more now), about English football when they were given total responsibility for player recruitment. Significantly, Gus Poyet commented earlier this week to say that he wanted more input to player recruitment than his predecessor. Let’s bloody well hope so Ellis, because this model has become the Ford Edsel of the footballing world, and it needs to be overhauled right now.

PDC has carried the can for this whole mess and become the scapegoat for the failure of the team. Responsibility doesn’t rest solely with him. In the fullness of time, PDC may become a very good coach. He is possibly too honest and open about what he thinks, although few of us would argue against most of his opinions. Against that are serious questions about his judgment and approach to players.

At the top of this article I suggested that there was one question, but in reality there is another. If the two remaining Italians are responsible for player recruitment, then who is responsible for deciding which players are sold and when? Is this also the role of the scouts (and former agent), or is this Poyet’s job? Thoughts and opinions on a postcard please?


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Manchester City, Meatloaf and memories of the Glorious Fallen

John McCormick:
John McCormick: remembering the past

In the week after the derby I kept conjuring up a mental image of Meatloaf riding an elephant. Totally incorrect, of course, everyone knows Micky Dolenz, who found fame with the Monkees and thus gave us “Cheer up Peter Reid”, was the original circus boy. As Reidy had left years earlier it’s anyone’s guess as to what my mind was up to in that respect.

Read moreManchester City, Meatloaf and memories of the Glorious Fallen

Poyetry in Motion: SAFC v Manchester City ‘a massive win, fans outstanding’

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


Gus Poyet just goes on and on in his post-match e-mail. But why not? He has, after all, led his inherited squad to three successive home wins. This was a mighty one, even if beating Man City 1-0 at home is something we have to expect. It was won with a great performance – from the players but also from the crowd – and fills us with hope that all is not lost …

Read morePoyetry in Motion: SAFC v Manchester City ‘a massive win, fans outstanding’

Poyetry in Motion: Saints alive – Sunderland win!

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


In his post match e-mail Gus Poyet praises his team for getting more right than they got wrong. We all know it is a work in progress but he seems happy enough, seeing some improvement in the application of his philosophy whilst not ignoring the weaknesses he saw against the Saints. At least that’s what he tells M Salut…

SAFCvSOTONcup(FT)

Dear Colin,

The idea was to get two things right tonight – one, the result, and two, to play with confidence. We played a lot better than we have been and we passed the ball a lot more.

I understand that the fans want to see us move with the ball as quick as possible, but playing that way is too easy to defend against. There is always someone in a position to make a mistake when you play that way. You don’t need to be so direct to score a goal; you can allow a player an extra pass to create that chance.

I do believe we looked better tonight; it may be difficult to compare as it was a cup competition.

In the first half maybe we passed the ball a bit better than we did in the second. The way that we made them run behind the ball opened up more chances for us. It is a process, we need to be consistent and do the right things for 90 minutes – not just 10. I’m pleased with the way the players passed the ball.

It is something to build on – especially looking ahead to Sunday’s game with Man City – if you give the ball away against a team like them you’re going to suffer. Set pieces are very important; we always say that and we worked it well tonight and managed to score.

From there Southampton had to commit a lot more, and in doing that gave us the space to go on and get a second and kill the game off. However, for some reason we cannot seem to keep a clean sheet and they pulled a goal back, but we held out and got the win.

All the best,

Guy Poyet


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Poyetry in Motion: beating Newcastle with ‘effort, tension, nerves and some enjoyment’

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

Gus Poyet does not like to be told, as he has been, that winning today was all that mattered to Sunderland. Happy as he is for the players and the fans, he wants a repeat performance and another win next weekend, at Hull. Today was a start; we need to build on it …

Read morePoyetry in Motion: beating Newcastle with ‘effort, tension, nerves and some enjoyment’

He’s served Sunderland well but is it time for Kevin Ball to leave?

John McCormick:
John McCormick: pondering the imponderable

John McCormick is among Kevin Ball’s admirers. But, as Gus Poyet sets about the mammoth task of saving Sunderland AFC from relegation and Ellis Short ponders the club structure from top to bottom, he argues that the time may have come for Bally to move on. Not everyone will agree …

Read moreHe’s served Sunderland well but is it time for Kevin Ball to leave?