From Morecambe to Blackpool, Blackburn, Bolton and Bury, then Liverpool, Everton and Tranmere. It’s an Historic Lancashire Ramble

WordPress seems happier with Win7 than Win10, and a change of computer has let me add more content and repost the report I did a few hours ago:

It was January 2017 when I last reported on this side of the Pennines, which is not surprising, given the season(s) – and close seasons – we’ve had recently. it’s a bit quieter now, so I thought it a good time to revisit before things get lively again. Some of the clubs I visited have improved their circumstances, others have seen their situations worsen and quite a few of them are now sharing a division with us, not all in the best of circumstances.

Indeed, some will make you wonder why all the fuss about us finishing fifth and missing out on promotion against Charlton, who themselves are not in the best of circumstances, given the owner is looking to sell and appears to have already given up on promotion, although he hadn’t ruled it out completely yesterday.

Charlton fans are welcome to post their thoughts but Charlton are not the issue today, the focus is firmly on the historic County of Lancashire

Read moreFrom Morecambe to Blackpool, Blackburn, Bolton and Bury, then Liverpool, Everton and Tranmere. It’s an Historic Lancashire Ramble

Jordan Henderson and the Liverpool fans’ mantra: ‘he’s not really all that good’

Jake: looking back

John McCormick writes: wasn’t it good to see Jordan Henderson picking up that trophy the other day? It wasn’t his first, either. Way back in 2011-12 he’d been on the winning side as Liverpool picked up the League cup. He’d also been a runner-up in a few competitions (FA Cup, Europa League,  Champions League, Premiership and so on) had captained his country in the World Cup, and, generally, proven to be a bit of a canny player. Yet, not long after he left Sunderland, I remember listening to Liverpool fans explaining why he just wasn’t good enough for Liverpool and how he’d never replace Steven Gerrard [the sniping from sections of the Liverpool and England support has continued – Ed].

There were similar criticisms about his selection as an England player after he made his senior debut in 2010 and, indeed, it was a while before he earned another cap. Yet we knew all long, didn’t we? At least Stephen Goldsmith did. Here’s what he wrote just 7 years ago, on June 5th 2012,  under his byline “Goldy’s Logic” and with the title:

Read moreJordan Henderson and the Liverpool fans’ mantra: ‘he’s not really all that good’

‘I won a few things with them and had a little bit of success’

John McCormick: We're not bottom, so is it a Happy Christmas?

 

No game, and no need – or desire – for a relegation review so soon after the last one, which means I’m taking another meander around the Northwest to bring you up to date, more or less, with some of the clubs on this side of the Pennines.

I was going to title this piece “take a walk on the west side” in homage to wrinkly Pete’s propensity for including songs. You’ll find out why I didn’t at the end.

Read more‘I won a few things with them and had a little bit of success’

How Dare We?: A message to Arsenal from a Liverpool fan on a Sunderland website

Malcolm Dawson writes…..M. Salut’s daughter Nathalie despite being well brought up is a Liverpool fan! However, she takes an interest in all things footy related and today reflects upon the murmurings in North London directed at the Premier League’s longest serving manager. Here’s what she thinks about the calls for Wenger’s head.

Footy loving Nathalie is second from the left

So once again we have to hear the bleating from the Arsenal fans and the media about how Arsene Wenger needs to go at the end of the season, how he spends no money in the transfer window and how they “fail” every year.

My dad says he would love to have the kind of failure Arsenal have had.

I get that Arsenal have an issue whereby every single season they start off strongly and are touted as potential winners, only to go on a dismal run of results in the second half of the season. This does happen a lot to Arsenal and I suspect this is down to his squad size. He is notoriously “tight” in the transfer market and Arsenal never appear to have a big squad so they suffer for this as the season draws on. But look at the bigger picture.

Arsenal have, for the last 20 years, qualified for a Champions League spot every single season without fail – and with that smaller squad. They have won the Premier League twice and the FA Cup 5 times, most recently in 2015 and have done this quietly, while the other supposedly “big four” (or “big six” as it may be now) have been falling over themselves, dropping in and out each year. That in itself is an achievement of which I am sure the likes of Liverpool, Man Utd, Chelsea and Man City would be proud.

I understand the feeling that it is time to push on and challenge for the title but haven’t they been doing that for the past few years? Arsenal haven’t won but they have been up there challenging. All that they probably need is not a change in manager but one or two more quality signings to help push them over the line.

Arsène Wenger inanimate

It annoys me when I hear fans call for Wenger’s head. The phrase “be careful what you wish for” comes to mind because I strongly suspect when he leaves Arsenal may find themselves on a bit of a downwards spiral in the same way that Man Utd did when Sir Alex Ferguson left. Even at the weekend, watching Match of The Day after Arsenal had won, one of the pundits, Ian Wright, was still claiming that he believed it would be Wenger’s last season and the team were still criticised. It left me, a Liverpool fan, whose side has recently lost to Hull, Swansea, Southampton and Wolves, scratching my head.

In general, today’s managers aren’t given enough time which is a bit of a bug bear of mine. Some managers are very good at bringing instant success like Mourinho, but the success seems to tail off after a couple of seasons. And some managers are better at bringing in success after a bit of time like Sir Alex Ferguson. I do think club chairmen could benefit with a bit of patience. I think Sunderland have been patient with Moyes. He is a good manager as he showed at Everton, and was treated unfairly at Man Utd. Hopefully he can engineer another miraculous relegation escape for the Black Cats and keep dad smiling.

… is the revolutionary cry of our Jake


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Good news from Liverpool (and Everton), sad news from Bolton, and is there a thaw at Blackpool?

John McCormick:
John McCormick
keeping you in touch

The main thing for Sunderland fans this week must be the cancellation of Adam Johnson’s contract. The club has said it will make no further statement and nor will we. Instead, you can have my ramblings and a mini-tour of the NorthWest.

Read moreGood news from Liverpool (and Everton), sad news from Bolton, and is there a thaw at Blackpool?

SA’s Essay: never say die attitude at Liverpool brings welcome point

Jake: 'a point's a point?'
Jake: ‘a point’s a point?’
Malcolm Dawson writes…..an away point is always good and after it seemed like defeat was on the cards especially welcome. We are still a few wins away from safety and even two on the bounce might not get us out of the bottom three after today’s results but let’s not quibble. Sam was happy and says so in his post match e-mail to M Salut and the rest of the extended Mackem family.

LIVERPOOL 2 SUNDERLAND 2

Jake's take on Big Sam
Jake’s take on Big Sam
Dear Colin,

When you’re two-nil down at Anfield you think your day’s all over, but today we fought back from being two goals down with two quality goals of our own. We earned ourselves a point by not giving up and never saying die. It looked like the fear left us and we seemed to play a lot better after falling behind.

I was disappointed when we fell to one-nil because I thought we didn’t deserve it, [Patrick] van Aanholt had an unbelievable chance to pull us back just after, but he didn’t manage to score and then we were at fault for their second goal. I thought we had defended well up until that point and we had created a number of chances.

We had to make some changes today because of illness and injuries and then Duncan [Watmore] got injured early doors too, which forced us into another change.

[Adam] Johnson came on and he got forward a little more than what [Yann] M’Vila, [Jan] Kirchhoff and [Lee] Cattermole had been doing and it made a difference.

We never said die; we showed character and worked on opening up Liverpool a little bit more and it paid off with a quality free kick and then [Jermain] Defoe took his chance and wow, what a goal! It’s the quality of those goals that got us our point.

It’s not often you can come back from being two goals behind to get a point and it’s a very precious point for us today!

Thanks for your support,

Sam Allardyce



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Liverpool v SAFC Guess the Score: maybe making a point

Jake: 'a good time o start winning'
Jake: ‘a good time to start winning but we’d take a draw’

Can the new-look Lads make our Canadian diarist Martin Bates‘s trip “home” feel all the more worthwhile?

Martin has already vividly described his first few days back on Wearside, where bis parents were born and raised before emigrating, and promises more. He has a ticket for the Liverpool game and also for the next home tie, against Man Utd a week later.

How sweet the flight home would feel if, somehow, it was made after Sunderland’s points tally had risen to 25. Even a draw and a win would send him home happy.

Read moreLiverpool v SAFC Guess the Score: maybe making a point

Liverpool ‘Who are You?’: Jordan, SAFC defensive woes and Celtic song-stealing

Dave Usher:
Dave Usher: ‘every Saturday night I get texts from my SAFC-supporting brother-in-law ripping into Shearer, Newcastle, Cheryl Cole and Ant & Dec and moaning about whatever crappy result you’ve had

Dave Usher is a Liverpool supporter with a Sunderland family connection, as you shall see. He runs The Liverpool Way fan site and is one of Monsieur Salut’s blogging colleagues at ESPN FC. He quite likes what he has seen of Jeremain Lens, used to rate Steven Fletcher and wants none of our centre backs for Liverpool …

Read moreLiverpool ‘Who are You?’: Jordan, SAFC defensive woes and Celtic song-stealing

Sixer’s Liverpool Soapbox: when sorrows come they come not single spies

Jake: 'when your secret weapon is Danny Graham you know you're in trouble'
Jake: ‘Pete promises to reflect on the positives and negatives. Spot the positives!’
Malcolm Dawson writes…..Sunderland have won fewer games than any other team in the Premier League. Even QPR who haven’t mustered a single point away from home have won two more games than SAFC and no prizes for guessing who their first victim was. Even Burton Albion beat them before they tasted victory against us. The view of many at the start of the season was that with a whole host of winnable home games after Hogmany, if we weren’t in the bottom three at Christmas then a mid table position would be well within our grasp. Well those regular attenders at the Stadium of Light are revising their opinions. One home league win so far this season and only three in the whole of 2014 doesn’t auger well when all the relegation candidates are still to visit us. Most of us thought we would get three points against a poor Hull City side and look how that turned out. As usual Peter Sixsmith turned up yesterday and once again he left feeling more than a little disgruntled.

Pete can  see the cracks as he gets up on the old soapbox.
Pete can see the cracks as he gets up on the old soapbox.

NOW IS THE WINTER OF OUR DISCONTENT – LIVERPOOL – SSOL – JANUARY 10th 2015

This is twenty one hours after the latest awful performance so I have kept my promise not to write straight after the game and to reflect on the positives and the negatives before enlightening the readership of my views on the current state of Sunderland AFC. The use of the word “awful” in the first sentence may give you some idea of how I felt about this game. I could have used abject, appalling or abysmal – and that is just the As. The rest of the alphabet would have thrown up many, many more.

In the seven, I questioned the Head Coach’s selection and tactics. Basically, he got them wrong.

Here was a Liverpool team which, in the last ten days had been embarrassed by the pace of Leicester City and the physical strength and crossing power of AFC Wimbledon. They appear to have no decent forwards, play with three at the back and attack down the wings. They do, if given space, have some pace. What do we do? Defend deep. Allow them to come at us. Hope to stop them getting past us on the edge of the box with resolute defending as we had at Anfield. Catch them on the break and pick them off.

These are not tactics to warm up a large crowd on a cold day. Many of those sat around me are beginning to realise that we are slow, ponderous and prone to make mistakes. The Head Coach is rapidly running out of goodwill, something which Sunderland fans will show to those who are at least prepared to have a go. The team selection and the use of substitutes did nothing to endear Poyet to the increasing number of doubters in the East Stand seats and Gents. Why continue to play a centre half at right back when there is a fit right back on the bench? Why persist with a clearly out of form Jordi Gomez and then play him for the whole ninety minutes? Why play with one up front against three defenders? Why allow Liverpool to dictate the way that the game should be played?

On Monday Akinfenwa and Tubbs put pressure on Skrtl and company and thus made it difficult for Mignolet. Neil Ardley, the AFC Head Coach had identified the weaknesses that are still there in Brendan Rogers’s side and he nearly got a draw out of the game.

Unlike the fourth level side, we completely failed to take the game to Liverpool. They could have been one up in the first five minutes when the referee gave Brown the benefit of the doubt when he appeared to trip Markovic. There was no doubt a few minutes later when the same player picked his way through a succession of feeble tackles to score what turned out to be the winning goal. It could and should have been more as we continued to pass the ball sideways and backwards and then whack it up to Connor Wickham, who was totally dominated by Skrtl. The ball was given away so easily and so often that Liverpool probably found it difficult to believe that this was the self-styled “difficult to beat” team.

Not so much difficult to beat as difficult to watch. This was a truly painful experience which made many realise that here comes yet another relegation struggle. We avoided the drop last year because we had nothing to lose and because the three who went down were clubs in chaos. I don’t see much of that this season as West Brom and Crystal Palace have made their coaching changes, while Burnley and Leicester appear to be coming to terms with the division and have pace in their teams.

That leaves Villa, where the fans are turning on Paul Lambert, QPR who are useless away from home (they come to us next month; put your mortgage on a 0-0 draw) and Hull, whose manager is now preparing for a second career as a High Court Judge if his asinine comments on the Ched Evans case are anything to go by.

But what about Sunderland? Are we going to rely on others or are we going to do something about it? And if so, what?

First of all, we could try playing two forwards up front instead of sticking one of them out wide. I had some sympathy for Wickham yesterday, who had to feed off the proverbial scraps – although he gave up far too easily and being replaced by Danny Graham shows how much off the pace he was in the second half.

Jake: 'takes up Sixer's Shakespearean theme.
Jake: ‘takes up Sixer’s Shakespearean theme.

Secondly, we could try to start a game with some tempo and not allow the opposition to dictate the way that the game should be played. How do we do that? Moving the ball forward would help. Liverpool are vulnerable to players who run at them – look at Schlupp’s goal for Leicester and the performance that Rigg turned in for AFC – but we consistently fail to do this.

Some of Poyet’s after match quotes are worrying; “I’d have thought that by now I would have had a better impact on how the team plays. Some players are taking a long time to learn the basics of how I want to play.” What to make of this? We have a decent sized squad, many of who have arrived at the club in Poyet’s 15 months here. Are there players here that have been imposed on him? Is he still looking at those that O’Neill and Di Canio brought in and who do not fit his style? What is his style?

The last question is the key one. He clearly likes to play on the counter and two of the paltry three wins that we have had this season have come when the opposition have been chasing the game. Palace ran around making errors allowing us to catch them on the break, while Newcastle did the same, allowing us to pick them off. Giaccherini, Alvarez and others thrive on this kind of play. How many good games has the Italian had at the Stadium? He has looked a far better player away from home as has Alvarez and, believe it or not, Gomez.

But at home we can be awful. We have not had a crowd of less than 40,000 this season, a testimony to loyalty, hope and the club’s marketing policies, but that loyalty cannot be relied on as the winter of discontent descends on us.

The next home game is against a quick, lively and uninhibited Burnley side who really must fancy their chances against a plodding, out of touch Sunderland. And there is Spurs away before that. It could be a long, hard winter and a not very bright spring.

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Jake flags the 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 made-for-purpose feature – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there

Pure Poyetry: ref inspires team to up their game against Liverpool

Jake: 'when your secret weapon is Danny Graham you know you're in trouble'
Jake: ‘no New Year’s resolution on display at the Stadium of Light’
Malcolm Dawson writes……a few problems with the website server has delayed us passing on the contents of Senor Poyet’s post match e-mail to M Salut but we’re here now – better late than never. Now I’m no Hercule Poirot but I detect a few grumblings and mumblings amongst our regular readers and a growing discontent with the Head Coach’s style of play and decision making. Personally I have no such qualms…….yet. We need some stability at the club and chopping and changing the man at the top will not be a good move at this stage, but that’s just my opinion and I know not all of you will agree. But what does disconcert me in his missive is the claim it was referee Craig Pawson who provoked a reaction from the team. Perhaps he should have awarded the third minute penalty and sent off Wes Brown then we would have seen a reaction earlier. Three shots in the whole game tells its own story. True our ex goalie let us down by not making himself big enough to deflect Johnson’s rebound back into the goal but then Pants had a similar bit of luck with his elbow. It’s your job to get the team to react Gus. Time to throw some hairdryers mebbes!

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

Dear Colin,

I’m disappointed with the result because I was expecting better; the first half was very disappointing.

In the second half we came out and we had a go, even with 10 men; we applied pressure and we got forward and almost got something from the game, unfortunately it wasn’t enough.

(Liam) Bridcutt’s red card made the players react, they sensed they were in trouble and really pulled together as a team at that point; something they should have done a lot earlier in the game.

(Adam) Johnson went close to scoring for us; he is a player who is making a difference for the team, he takes a lot of responsibility. It’s been a busy week for him, becoming a father, and you could see he was tired towards the end but he insisted on playing today.

Mika (Mandron) came on and he brought a spark with him and he almost got a goal. Danny (Graham) did well too, he’s a great professional and he has a great attitude, he came back from loan sharp and that’s how he was involved today.

Thanks for your support,

Gus Poyet

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Jake flags the 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 made-for-purpose feature – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there