Amid all the gloom that has descended over the collective support base of Sunderland AFC, the one sentence that some will have found hardest to stomach after the narrow escape from a fifth successive defeat against Hull was Gus Poyet’s statement, in his post-match e-mail reproduced here: “I think we played well.”
Some of us would have taken the 1-1 draw at Hull if offered it beforehand, but for no better reason than that the rotten form and uninspiring tactics of recent weeks, all season with the exception of a couple of games if we’re honest, made another defeat much more likely.
Peter Lynn is as wearied by events as Nic Wiseman, but heads for Hull full of measured hope, rational thoughts about the impact of events on SAFC and abundant pride in the Sunderland travelling army he’ll be part of at the KC stadium …
Malcolm Dawson writes….Sixer and I saw SAFC concede twice today and have a man sent off but they not only maintained but in fact strengthened their title challenge. No I haven’t gone mad – we were at Dean Street where Shildon scored two cracking goals after twice going behind against Northern League leaders West Auckland. With games in hand Shildon now have control of the Championship’s destination. I was kept up to date with the goings on at Old Trafford thanks to the modern day wonder that is the i-phone – events relayed to me by a couple of lads sitting behind. So I can’t say much about the game. Gary Bennett’s comments on Radio Newcastle indicated a decent first half performance but a worrying observation that Jermain Defoe seems to have lost the spark he brought with him to the club. He’s only been there five minutes. Another refereeing howler provided the post match talking points. The other teams around us lost so things could have been worse and in his post match e-mail Gus remains positive but then that’s part of his job.
It was a very decent start from us, everything was going to plan and we did well, creating a number of chances through Connor [Wickham] and Jermain [Defoe] and we held United.
After that we dropped off a little too much; we defended too much and stopped creating chances and trying to pass and control the ball. There were too many actions to defend and when that is the case you concede a goal, and of course for us the penalty was the turning point of the game. We needed to readjust after going down to ten men and change how we could play.
[On the red card and penalty] When I saw Falcao get past the defenders and hit the ball wide I was delighted, but then I saw the referee give a penalty and then everyone was gathered around and talking, on the bench we weren’t sure who had made the foul. After that we needed to stay in the game, but we couldn’t cope after losing a player and United took their chance.
For long spells we defended really well today and we need to take that into the next two games and build on it. Now is our time to do that.
Malcolm Dawson writes….Well it was either the Stadium of Light or Ironworks Road, Tow Law for me today. £25 v £2 a probable 0-0 draw or the certainty of goals. No contest in the end and here I am grabbing a quick cuppa just back from the match, about to set off for an evening of curry and naan bread in the company of M Salut, up for the game today and Lord Peter Sixsmith who as ever was in his place in the East Stand. I’ve seen worse 0-0 draws. The crowd was definitely behind the team and those who were disgruntled kept their counsel. The starting line up looked more solid defensively which allowed Johnson and Alvarez to hug the touchlines. It looked to me from the other end of the ground that Lescott should have seen red and Johnno’s goal didn’t look offside either. The ref was again poor all over the pitch and Defoe was hauled down near the end for what should have been a penalty, but I shall wait until after I’ve seen a recorded MOTD on my return from the Garden of India before I decide he was totally inept. Gus as ever was upbeat and probably relieved there were no boos as the team walked off. Here’s his customary post match missive to M Salut and a few others on his e-mail list.
John McCormick writes: There have been quite a few posts forecasting doom on this site recently, and some quite critical comments relating to our manager. It’s not just his team selection, strategy and tactics which have been questioned but also his communication, with the press, the fans, maybe the players. In particular, his post match comments and e-mails have led to raised eyebrows, and now we have an open letter to the fans.
What are we to make of this? I’m not the best placed to comment.
M Salut says: I wanted to say something directly to Gus Poyet but am so angry, especially on behalf of 4.200+ loyal souls who went to Bradford and endured the dross offered by the handsomely paid men undeservedly wearing a proud club’s shirt, that I leave it to him …
John McCormick writes: I wrote an upbeat introduction to the weekend’s e-mail from the manager. Today, I can’t repeat the feat. I’ve travelled across Liverpool to lose a game of chess, which meant the team lost the match, and while taking solace at the bar and watching the final minutes of an apparently entertaining Liverpool v Spurs it transpired we’d once more self-destructed. How does our manager explain this? Let’s find out as M Salut shares with us the e-mail he received shortly after the game:
John McCormick writes: How did we do at Swansea last season? I, and everyone here, will no doubt have forgotten, or will no doubt want to. So, with today providing a measure of our progress how do you feel? Personally, I’m happy. But is our manager?
Let’s see what he says as M Salut shares with us the e-mail Gus crafted specially for him, and perhaps a few chosen others, with the hope there’s nothing lost in translation:
Malcolm Dawson writes……a return to a flat back four, a midfield three and two forwards in support of our new striker was an encouraging early sign on Saturday. That the boys looked to go forward more so. The formation actually gave the fullbacks space and for the first time in ages we looked to take the game to the opposition. Mind you Burnley are not Man City or Chelsea, even their own supporters will tell you that, but then neither are Fulham, Hull and Leeds. If we can believe the press talk Defoe might be rested for this game so it may well be that Gus starts with Fletcher and Graham. It may well be that he starts with Manonne, Jones, Giaccherini, Rodwell and Coates as well.
He may stick with the 4-3-3, revert to 3-5-1 or go back to the 4-1-4-1 shape that he employed before JD arrived. All that assuming there is no movement in or out of the club in the frantic dealings of the transfer window’s last day – Mavrias and Cabral excepted. The negative from Saturday was that as the game wore on we began to sit deeper and more passes went sideways and backwards than earlier in the day. That Burnley didn’t have the quality to break us down meant we still looked comfortable but I would think that even as a devotee of tika taka or tippy tappy, call it what you will, Gus and his staff must have seen we have more chance of winning by taking the game to the opposition rather than sitting back and waiting for the inevitable mistake.
What I’m trying to say is that anticipating what Senor Poyet will do may not be straightforward, but guessing the score is. With many of the Premier League’s front runners out of the competition and with what should be a winnable game at Bradford to come (although they can’t be taken lightly) the incentive to go out and win the game is there. So if you are optimistic go for a Sunderland victory but if you have been following the team for a long time you may wish to go for a draw or even worse. Fulham fans are welcome to enter and the design will be modified into one showing their team’s kit, courtesy of our sponsors Personalised Football Gifts.
If I understand M Salut’s precedent, should there be extra time it will be the score after 120 minutes that counts but if you feel it may go the full two hours, stick in your prediction for what you think it will be after 90 as well and he can sort it out! What I am sure of though is that penalties, should they be needed, will not be included.
Usual rules apply – the first and only the first person to come up with correct scoreline will be deemed the winner. Any first time posters whose comment is held for moderation will not be disadvantaged as the system logs their time of entry. M Salut’s decision is final of course.
No new WAY this time but in case you missed Russ Goldman’s contribution before the first game you can read it here.