Kevin Ball has good reason to be proud of the effort his team put into the game against Liverpool. Everyone expected us to lose and we did. But we were not as second best as 1-3 suggests and key decisions went against us for the first two Liverpool goals. All the same, that’s one point from six games with Man Utd up next. This is how Bally saw it …
The atmosphere around the Stadium of Light last night was not that of a club in crisis writes Malcolm Dawson. Mind you when I arrived outside the ground an hour before kick off it was obviously typical of a League Cup fixture – quieter than Bishop Auckland on a Friday night when the bouncers outside the pubs outnumber the punters within. Surprisingly perhaps there was little talk of Di Canio’s departure, player power or possible incoming coaches. It seemed to me that those inside the ground were hoping that a decent performance would erase the memories of the dismal start to the season. There was a decent turn out too of Posh supporters on a mizzly September evening – more than Fulham brought. Pete Sixsmith was there too.
A WEIGHT OFF THE SHOULDERS
It was a cup tie and it was against a team who were two divisions below us, but there was a palpable sense of relief at the SoL last night as a predominantly British team shrugged off Peterborough United to make it into the last 16 of the Football League Cup.
Relief at the fact that the owner had taken action to arrest a situation which was looking critical if not terminal even after five games; relief at the fact that we have not stampeded into a quick appointment and are happy to look at several candidates while leaving the first team in the very English hands of Kevin Ball.
Nobody that I spoke to was anything other than pleased that the mercurial Italian had left. The players were welcomed with warm applause, particularly O’Shea and Larsson, who are reputedly the ones who led the delegation to Margaret Byrne. They looked like men who had had a huge weight taken off their shoulders.
It would be wrong to describe the 90 minutes that followed as a sparkling performance. Some of the team were rusty, hardly having played this season. Others were desperate to impress and maybe tried too much. But they won, are in the next round and looked like a better team than past results have indicated.
Cattermole had an immediate impact, sitting deep and winning the ball before moving it forward. At times, he reminds me of a parks player, constantly chasing the ball and then giving it away. But he played one exquisite through ball to Giaccherini in the 32nd minute, which saw the excellent Italian put us ahead.
Ball played him behind Altidore, in the role in which we always hoped Sessegnon would excel. He looked a very good player last night, quick, sharp and with the ability to create his own space. This one could work and his celebrations when he scored indicated that he had played a considerable part in ensuring that Di Canio was queuing at the Alitalia desk on Monday morning.
Another who looked quietly impressive was Ki, who does simple things well and also has the ability to create his own space. However, he let himself down with a nasty challenge on Lee Tomlin, raking his foot down Tomlin’s Achilles and putting the Posh’s most influential player out of the game after 10 minutes. Altidore worked hard, as always, and was unlucky with a thumping shot that hit the post in the first half and Johnson was always a good outlet on the left. He put in a wonderful centre for Roberge to head home to wrap the game up, having earlier curled one just round the post.
So, no embarrassment to a team below us in the pyramid and a feeling that players and crowd were united in the face of adversary. We go into Sunday’s game against Liverpool with a win under our belts and that sense of relief that a bully has been beaten and that there is the potential of salvaging the season and getting some points on the board.
Kevin Ball has said that he wants the job. He has done well with the Under 21’s – but so did Ricky Sbragia. Whoever takes over has to be vetted carefully and has to have either the credentials or the potential to make quick progress. Poyet seems to be in a strong position and could be an interesting appointment. I suspect that Tony Pulis or Alex McLeish will not be popular with fans, but they are honest and reliable men. I like the cut of Eddie Howe’s jib and he has done well at Bournemouth and I gather he was on the Everton short list in the summer.
Whoever it is has a decent bunch of players to work with, and more importantly, a group of players who have shown that they do care about the club and their own professional reputations. Talk of player power is nonsense – as Martin Smith said on Total Sport, if they didn’t care about the club they would just say they were injured and pick up their salaries as Angeleri and a few others have done over the years.
We await the appointment with interest – and hope that Bally can give his chances a real boost on Sunday.
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Malcolm Dawson writes: We have become used to our various managers’ post match e-mails focusing on the positives in defeat. After a weekend of turmoil caretaker boss Kevin Ball takes care to emphasise the positives in victory and in stark contrast to his recently departed predecessor, picks out one or two individuals for special praise. Of course when Ellis Short invites the men in charge to clear their desks he insists that M Salut’s personal e-mail address is left in a prominent position so that he doesn’t miss out on the immediate post match reaction. Here’s what Bally had to say after a professional display that may have lacked the drama of the previous round but one which sees us safely in the draw for the next …
Despite the entertainment value of a five-goal match involving Kevin Ball’s young squad, talk turned inevitably to Matters at the Top. Read on for Pete Sixsmith‘s match report – and a tongue-in-cheek look at runners and riders for the nead coach job …
No rebellions at Hetton as the development squad turned out for Kevin Ball and probably had mayonnaise on their chips at lunchtime, now that the sauce salesman has been allowed to call again.
A story I hadn’t heard before. Bears repeating, from Dave Hewitt’s answers in the West Bromwich Albion “Who are You?” ahead of tomorrow’s game at the Hawthorns. Dave is a retired teacher and sports photographer …
In an ideal world, bright SAFC publicity people would have told Pete Sixsmith: “Get yourself along to the Reserves; someone’s due a hammering.” Instead, the 7-0 demolition of Scunthorpe was out of bounds to Salut! Sunderland and practically everyone else. So Pete joined Steve Bruce and others at an FA Youth Cup game – and saw us beaten…
Away from the brouhaha surrounding the continued employment of Steve Bruce and the sadness surrounding the tragic demise of Gary Speed, there has been some football played.
In the afternoon, the reserves demolished Scunthorpe United 7-0 at the Academy (but we’re not allowed in to watch) with Ryan Noble getting a hat trick in four minutes. Pity he couldn’t have done that against Fulham. He must be in line for a place on Sunday and if on the bench, and will with any luck be given longer than last time on the field.
The question is posed by Pete Sixsmith. who detects a subtle difference between your John Terrys and your Kevin Balls …
The big talking point on Sport on 5 last night was the England captaincy.
Mark Pougatch, David Pleat and Mike Ingham had a sustained and intense discussion about who should wear the captains armband against Wales and Ghana next week, what with Rio being injured, Stevie G being out and would JT get it back. Interesting? Not really
One startling revelation that came out was that Terry was “upset” when the armband was passed around during the multi-substitutions against Denmark and it never reached him, poor diddums.
Danny Murphy caused a few feathers to fly when he stuck his boot into dirty play and its causes. Did anyone else find themselves thinking about pots and kettles? …
Back in the days when I started watching football, it was amateur stuff in the Northern League.
My dad was secretary of Shildon AFC. His duties went beyond clerical/organisational necessities, though I do not think he was responsible for “pumping up” players to get stuck in to opponents.
Arsenal fans will pounce on the irony of a Birmingham fan winning something to do with fair play and inspired by Eduardo. But the issues are separate, and Kevin Ball is a deserving winner …
We’re open to accusations of cheating ourselves, that we manipulated the result to ensure yet another Mackem connection to Salut! Sunderland competition prizewinners, if only in name.
But look at the replies people gave and Kevin Ball, who runs the Birmingham fan site Joys and Sorrows fully merits his selection as winner of our Pretend Fair Play league, inspired by rival fans’ responses to the Eduardo question: would you take – gladly or guiltily – or almost wish you could decline a trophy/title/survival won by a penalty scored after a blatant dive?
It sounded a creditable effort, ahead twice – right up to full time and again right up the end of extra time. Then the phrase Sunderland fans have come to dread: the penalty shoot-out. Pete Sixsmith witnessed the inevitable outcome …
Brrr, it’s a cold Wednesday night and there is an interesting Carling Cup semi on terrestrial TV, a bottle of Tullamore Dew on the go, a decent book to read and a warm fire. So bugger all that, let’s go to the Stadium of Light and watch the Under 18s play Preston in the FA Youth Cup.