Voice of America: on Jozy Altidore, ex-Red Bulls/Hull/Villarreal/AZ, now ours

Jake supports the stars in stripes
Jake supports the stars in stripes

As Salut! Sunderland‘s resident Voice of America (soon to be relocated to Scotland), Robert Simmons was the obvious man to turn to for thoughts on our new signing Jozy Altidore – forget the “undisclosed fee” tosh from the club, he cost us £6m or so if reports are correct – and he has risen to the task. This was especially impressive since he was away on holiday, denied proper internet access and minding a large family

Robbie’s first response
was discouraging. “I’m happy to do it. But I’m on vacation this week and then out for a week with work after that so I won’t be near a computer and internet for 13 days. All I’ve got right now is my phone. Normally I’d love to do it, but I also realize it may be more time sensitive than I can work with.”

But he warmed to the challenge.

“With that said, I’m thrilled with the signing and I think his pace and power will give defenders trouble. He’s matured as a person as much as he has as a player since his stint at Hull. He’s more patient, works harder, and understands how to work as a team of 11 rather than as a striker working by himself. Those are my initial thoughts that I can get out while holding Baby Bridge and making breakfast for the rest of the family.”

Urged to offer more snatches between Baby Bridge and ensuring Mrs R didn’t think he was skiving, Robbie added:

“It’s just him (new baby) up now so this is as good a time as any.

“I remember first seeing him play in the MLS and being impressed with his size and technicality. Rarely does an American player posses both. I think our biggest issue as a nation in international football is that we don’t have the coaches and trainers to develop the technical skills of the gifted athletes who want to play the sport.

“Jozy had two things that helped him in this regard. He grew up in south Florida which has a strong Latin American community. He learned a style that most American kids don’t. Second, he got coaching and direction both in Holland and with Klinsmann on how to use all of his best attributes as a striker and not just rely on pace and power.

“He is much beloved by fans of the United States Men’s National Team, and I’ve already had close to 20 calls, texts, and emails about Sunderland from some of those fans. Expect Americans to be tuning in soon.

Klinsmann! Oh dear. Wonderful striker but haven’t refs got a bit more card-happy than in his day for – how can we put this delicately – cheating?

Robbie had vague reassurance to offer: “I can’t remember seeing him dive much. But don’t hold me to that!”

Credit to http://www.youtube.com/user/ussoccerdotcom?feature=watch for the clip

So far, so good. We could have done with more of Robbie’s thoughts but would not wish to see him in bother with his wife. So I looked again at the responses I received to my own piece on Altidore at ESPN. Most of these would be from US but not SAFC supporters:

The one thing he did do well at Hull was hold the ball up and draw a few PKs… He was 19 then and this time around should be much better. I expect 7-10 goals his first season at Sunderland in the EPL and a few more in other competitions. Nothing spectacular but solid.

– wjwwhite

Agreed and wishing him well. The experience should help the US heading in to the WC.

– moses5280

i think the main growth in altidores game is although he thrives w service (who doesnt?) he has taken on way more leadership responsibilities at alkmaar after a transfer heavy summer last year which saw little reinforcement on the offensive side of the ball, that combined w injuries to key starters made for a frustrating year, and yet altidore consistently worked and created space for himself making it easier to get him the ball, and when he did get it scored. that ethic was never there at hull and the transition from villarreal’s reserves was too big of a jolt for a 19 yr old, who growing up in the states never had the level of footballing know how that a youngster in europe might have….he’s a late blooming talent like dempsey was and other americans will continue to be so long as they cant root the infrastructure down early enough w the right coaching….good move for sunderland, he will be di canio’s boy

– magic_rub

I feel bad for the USMNT (US Men’s National Team) because he was poor in his last EPL stint. If he loses confidence in what is a much harder league than in Holland, it could put the USMNT back into a position where they don’t have a striker who can score come world cup time.

Dude he was 19 and playing for Hull, totally different than now.

– scamcam14

If he can continue his form and notch 10-15 goals in the Prem his confidence will be even higher going into the WC.

– tbell_75

Hope this Sunderland brass understands that Jozy can only thrive with a quality midfield behind him. The last thing he, or anyone needs, is regression.

– djcandle

Last words from the man himself:

* “It’s great [the prospect of playing in front of over 40,000 fans], it’s part of taking that next step as a player, to be able to play in front of a stadium like that is going to be really exciting – I hope they like what I do on the pitch. Everybody I’m sure is excited to get the season off to a good start and I’m no different, I can’t wait to meet the guys, meet the coaching staff and get acclimated as soon as possible.”

** “To my friends in Alkmaar, thank you so much for the past two years I spent with you all. From Day 1, you made me feel so welcome. I will never forget the amazing moments and memories created that I was able to share with you all. I have grown so much as a man and futbol player the past two years in Alkmaar and I owe it all to my fantastic AZ teammates and staff.

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to represent such a great club and city. I wish you all nothing but the best in the future and I will never forget my time in the ‘City of Dreams’.”

– Altidore’s own gracious open letter to all at his former club

Good selection of views, good vibes from the man himself. You are very welcome, Mr Josmer Volmy Altidore.

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Salut! Sunderland’s end of season reviews: (3) the Voice of America

Jake and the final analysis
Jake and the final analysis

For the third of our end-of-season reports, we gazed across the Atlantic to find Robert Simmons, whose occasional offerings as a Stateside supporter of Sunderland bemuse some, who cannot understand how anyone would choose such an allegiance without family or geographical connections, but delight others. Robert presents conclusions on a disappointing season from his entertainingly different perspective …

While Arsenal was busy dispatching Wigan on Tuesday night and ensuring top flight safety for Sunderland, I was busy at a work retreat at a lake house in the mountains.

It was quite a nice location except for a few small details: no television, no internet, no phone service, so no update on the Arsenal/Wigan match.

Read moreSalut! Sunderland’s end of season reviews: (3) the Voice of America

Voice of America: wise babies say ‘we support Sunderland’

The Mackem diaspora acquires a new member. He will live to see greater times for SAFC ...
The Mackem diaspora acquires a new member. He will live to see greater times for SAFC …

The poor mite
has no reason to know it but he’s been born a Mackem. An adopted one, by all means, but I bet the first Premier League game his dad takes him to involves Sunderland and that is a qualifying act in Monsieur Salut’s criteria for Proper SAFC Fandom.

Read moreVoice of America: wise babies say ‘we support Sunderland’

Voice of America: Kilgallon, Noble, Mandron and the substitute debate

Jake flies the flag for Robert Simmons
Jake flies the flag for Robert Simmons

Our occasional contributor from the far-off USA, Robert Simmons, is due to become a father for the fourth time today, a boy to throw a helping of slugs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails into the sugar and spice and everything nice served up by three waiting sisters. We wish all the Simmonses well. But while Mrs S prepares for labour, Robert turns to his labour of love, writing about Sunderland AFC – he has substitution policy on his mind …

While at this point
in the season most Sunderland fans expected the club to be climbing towards mid-table and comfortably out of sight of the relegation zone, it seems that Sunderland are still just trying to fill all the spots on their bench.

This past Saturday Martin O’Neill made headlines for only putting six players on his bench. This seems quite inexplicable considering we are the 8th highest spending club in the past 5 years, but it is the situation we found ourselves in.

What was even more surprising was that Sunderland went with a traditional 4-4-2 lineup and with both Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham in the first 11, there wasn’t a recognized* striker available on the bench.

Of our six players available as subs we had one goalkeeper, three defenders, and two midfield players. It was a quite baffling situation to find ourselves in. O’Neill did say Matt Kilgallon was scheduled to be on the bench, but adding a 4th defender to the bench isn’t exactly what we needed against Fulham.

When I logged in to twitter about half and hour before the match there was quite the uproar over a) our formation for the match b) the lack of a recognized striker on the bench and c) an open spot on the bench.

It seems like there are two opinions on why that bench spot should or shouldn’t be used, and I’m curious as to which camp the readers of salutsunderland fall into.

Position 1:

When there is a circumstance like these and a regular outfield players gets inured or is ill and isn’t fit for the match, O’Neill should give that spot to one of the young players who is playing well for the U-21s. This will give them some valuable experience and it gives them a bit of hope that they can move through the ranks and get some time on the senior team.

A player like Ryan Noble could have filled that spot and been a potential option as an attacker in case of an injury during the match (Danny Graham did in fact get subbed off, but we changed tactics a little rather than making a like for like sub). Another young striker who has impressed is Mikael Mandron and a spot on the bench would be a nice way to reward the young player. Essentially with this position, we have seven bench spots and it does us no good to not use them all, so reward a young player and fill the entire bench.

Position 2:

A spot on the bench is not something a young player just gets because there are no other options, it must be earned. If you are only getting that spot because of illness or injury, and the manager has no intention of using you, it isn’t really a reward to get that spot. There is a lot of pride that comes with getting a spot on a match roster in the Premier League and the manager doesn’t just give that place unless you’ve earned it.

The American college football team that I support does this with all their first year players. Those players must practice* in generic gear until they’ve earned the right to be given the team gear, and the same logic can be used when it comes to earning that spot on the bench. You don’t just get it, you must earn it.

So where do you fall in this argument? Should young players be rewarded and given a place on the bench, or should those opportunities only be given once you’ve earned the right in the managers eyes to be there?

* Firstly, for anyone new to Robert’s contributions, please note the usual style rules at Salut! Sunderland are suspended to allow an American to write like an American. Secondly, does anyone know whether the rules would even permit a new name to be added to the list of subs when the need arises so close to kick off?

Voice of America: SAFC Thanksgiving to MON, Rose, Mignolet, Sess, Catts, Fletch and Johnson

Jake supports the stars in stripes

It is the fourth Thursday of November so maybe already too late for turkeys in the US to take cover. They tend not to approve of Thanksgiving. Robert Simmons, Salut! Sunderland’s US contributor, will presumably be tucking into the roast and also the pecan pie (sounds ike another bird but isn’t). First, he has some thanks of his own to direct towards the Stadium of Light …

Read moreVoice of America: SAFC Thanksgiving to MON, Rose, Mignolet, Sess, Catts, Fletch and Johnson

Voice of America: hardly on the Armstrong scale but now target football cheats

Jake longs for stars in stripes

The downfall of Lance Armstrong has set people thinking and talking about sporting cheats. Salut! Sunderland has banged on about it for years, earning the admiration of some readers but irritating others. Trying to con the referee is admittedly on a different scale to the systematic use of performance-enhancing drugs*, but it is a scourge of modern football all the same. For a partisan site to campaign on such issues and keep a straight face, it has to be willing to recognise the blatant Gyan (often), Bent (sometimes) or Larsson (at Wolves) dive just as clearly as it sees it in opponents, and we have tried to be consistent. Our friend out west, Robert Simmons, believes football could learn a useful lesson from his side of the pond …

Read moreVoice of America: hardly on the Armstrong scale but now target football cheats

Salut! Sunderland’s week: unsung stars, Steed’s acclaimed return and our ESPN exploits

Jake captures the theme

Salut! Sunderland readers have been served another feast of comment, analysis and trivia in the past week.

Read moreSalut! Sunderland’s week: unsung stars, Steed’s acclaimed return and our ESPN exploits

Voice of America: the club you support

Jake flies the flag for Robert Simmons

Monsieur Salut’s very lenient ground rules for deciding whether it is OK to support this or that club – see http://safc.blog/2012/08/chelsea-manchester-united-sunderland-the-rights-and-wrongs-of-choosing-your-club/ – have sparked lively debate. Robert Simmons, from the US of A, rose to the bait and responded in the form of a personal letter. This is all entirely light-hearted (Robbie is, in fact, mightily welcome here) and here he proposes some additional rules …

Read moreVoice of America: the club you support