Sunderland and Paolo Observed: beyond the media frenzy

Pete: strange times
Pete: strange times

Once again, The Observer called on Pete Sixsmith to sum up a week in the life of Sunderland AFC. This was written and, of course, appeared before the Chelsea game but remains a valid assessment of extraordinary events in the life of our club …

Read moreSunderland and Paolo Observed: beyond the media frenzy

Observing Sunderland – Pete Sixsmith’s mid term review

Salut! Sunderland is the website that others increasingly turn to for opinions and analysis and once again the Observer newspaper asked Pete Sixsmith for his thoughts on the season so far. Here’s what he sent them but you’ll have to buy the paper to see if they print them.

Pete dreaming of watching his club at Wembley. That would be Shildon then.

IT’S BEEN A REAL STINKER SO FAR.

Performances have been well below what many of us hoped for and we are involved in a relegation struggle. The football has been dull and the home game with Queens Park Rangers reached new depths for unimaginative, turgid football. We have rarely imposed ourselves on a game and once we go a goal behind, the result is a foregone conclusion. A charitable mark would be 3/10.

Simon Mignolet has been the one bright spot. Our Belgian keeper has rarely made an error, despite playing behind a defence that appears to love giving opponents a goal start. Should the unimaginable happen, there will be a queue of top notch clubs looking to add him to their squads. Danny Rose has been another player who has triumphed in the face of adversity – but he’s not ours.

On the other hand, Adam Johnson has been a major disappointment and has not made the transition from occasional player at the League Champions to regular player at a (I wish) mid table club. He needs to show that he can have some influence on a game – we haven’t seen any evidence of that yet. James McClean is struggling to recapture last seasons form. Carlos Cuellar and John O’Shea are creaking at the back.

Jake celebrates Jimmy Mac finding his goalscoring touch against Reading

Martin O’Neill was a popular choice twelve months ago and still retains the backing of most fans but 5 out of 10 is about the score he would get. He needs to bring in an authoritative centre half and a midfielder with a bit of pace. Michael Dawson, perhaps? Maybe James McCarthy? A Ukrainian or Belgian keen to make an impact?

As for football losing its soul, I would wholeheartedly agree. Terry, Suarez, Serbia, huge inequalities at the top, Blatter, Barton et al push me more and more towards Northern League football and Rugby League. You just get the feeling that the top end of the game has become a huge sewer – what you put into it is what you get out of it.

Colin Randall disguised as Monsieur Salut, by Matt

See also: Monsieur Salut talks all things Sunderland at ESPN FC: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland?cc=5739



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Fulham 0 SAFC 0 Observed: no seasonal sparkle

A draw at Fulham is not a bad result. But it came in a game of few thrills, little quality, hardly any talking points – except the question of whether Mark Hughes told his players to go out and rough up John Mensah in the knowledge of what the loss of the injury-prone centre back would have meant. Let us say no more than it looked that way a couple of times. Pete Sixsmith went into action again for The Observer

Read moreFulham 0 SAFC 0 Observed: no seasonal sparkle

Liverpool v Sunderland Observed: simply our best

Things have reached such a state at Anfield that Liverpool fans now hail as a “good start” an extremely dodgy early goal, in which the spirit of fair play was singularly absent whatever the letter of the law may say (and always leaving aside how far Torres was from the ball when the “free kick” was “taken”). On the other hand, Turner may just have been a prat! …

In any case, Stephanie Jones, an Observer-reading Red, saw it in a positive light – her team’s start, that is, not their overall performance – in her fan’s report for her Sunday newspaper of choice.

Salut! Sunderland was again called upon to give its own verdict, but let Stephanie speak first:

Read moreLiverpool v Sunderland Observed: simply our best

Observed: Sunderland 1 Everton 1


The Observer should be paying Pete Sixsmith a salary. As well as writing the half-term report, he summed up yesterday’s match for them. Here, plus the same exercise involving an Everton fan, is his fan’s view of the match …


THE FANS’ PLAYER RATINGS AND VERDICT

Pete Sixsmith, salutsunderland.com

Once again we failed to close down a game after going one up. Darren Bent scored a great goal that showed what we are capable of when we go forward. But we cannot control the midfield. Fellaini ran the show and, to be honest, we didn’t have anyone to compare to him. If you are defending in the penalty box then you are always going to concede. John Mensah was excellent, while Steed Malbranque looked like he is on his way out of the club.


The fan’s player ratings Fulop 6; Bardsley 7, Mensah 8 (Nosworthy 71 6), Da Silva 7, McCartney 6; Malbranque 4 (Zenden 58 6) Cana 6, Henderson 5, Reid 6; Jones 6, Bent 7

Steve Jones, BlueKipper.com

We got a good point in the end. But I’m disappointed we didn’t get the three points. They had a good period in the first half, but the second half was all us. That’s our problem this season, we can’t win these sort of games like we did last season. Fellaini was outstanding. This was his best game for us and I think that is because he’s playing in the middle of the park. Pienaar was good, as was Saha, even though he missed a few chances. But we can’t keep using injuries as an excuse.


The fan’s player ratings Howard 7; Hibbert 6, Neill 7, Heitinga 6, Baines 8; Bilyaletdinov 6, Osman 7 (Yakubu 69 7), Fellaini 10, Pienaar 8; Cahill 7; Saha 6 (Vaughan 87 n/a)