Vergini: adiós amigo. Forgive us for remembering that goal for Southampton

Not being part of Dick Advocaat’s plans
does not make Santiago Vergini a bad player. Nor does scoring the wonder goal you see above, sadly against his own side. Anyone selected to play for Argentina deserves respect.

But trips with the Development Squad to Tow Law – see Sixer’s first-class report at – are not what he came to the UK for. And, clearly, he’s not a player Advocaat would ever again willingly choose for a Premier League game.

Read moreVergini: adiós amigo. Forgive us for remembering that goal for Southampton

Sixer’s Sevens: Everton 0 SAFC 2. Deflected glory for Danny Graham and Jermain Defoe

    Jake pins Sixer to the wall
    Jake pins Sixer to the wall

    Monsieur Salut writes: I suppressed the temptation to add “or luckier” to my original headline (‘Results don’t come much bigger ..’). This was, beyond doubt, a magnificent defensive display and no one who knows the first thing about football challenges the notion that having a solid defence comes into the reckoning when plaudits are distributed.

    But how did Sunderland score two goals at the other end while keeping out everything Everton threw at us? First because Danny Graham, whose recent form has richly deserved a break, got one – his deflection of a shot by Jordi Gomez bringing his first goal in 28 Sunderland games. Whoever doubted Martin O’Neill’s wisdom in wanting him will now be eating his words (along with me, having predicted a defeat today). Second, because very soon after a borderline penalty shout went in his favour (at our end) he got a thigh and possibly a hand, equally unintentionally I’d say, off Adam Johnson’s shot. I ordered Pete Sixsmith, our star seven-word judge, to send smiling texts from Goodison and he complied. Come back in due course for his full account of an enormous, enormous win …

    Jake: 'them's the breaks ....'
    Jake: ‘them’s the breaks ….’

    Read moreSixer’s Sevens: Everton 0 SAFC 2. Deflected glory for Danny Graham and Jermain Defoe

Brazil 2014: Anita Lovren’s show of love for Southampton-playing Croatian husband

Anita Lovran's Instagram verdict
Anita Lovran’s Instagram verdict

Now let us be honest. If Dejan Lovren had gone feet-high into Fred’s throat, leaving stud marks and threatening life itself, we can safely assume a devoted wife might have protested when the referee had the audacity to give a penalty. And a yellow card.

But it wasn’t quite like that, as we know. Fred, untouched by Lovren except when falling dramatically into him, simply cheated to gain his penalty. Since I am not prepared to suggest anything criminal, let me just repeat that this was a wretched decision, as bad as any to be imagined for the opening game of the world’s grandest sporting tournament.

Read moreBrazil 2014: Anita Lovren’s show of love for Southampton-playing Croatian husband

Keir’s Sunderland Player Ratings: the West Ham(mer) blow

Malcolm Dawson writes….Keir Bradwell isn’t old enough to remember many of the players that Salut! Sunderland regulars refer to when drawing comparisons with the current squad. Born in the post Roker era he is even too young to remember Quinn and Phillips in their pomp, Mickey Gray or Chris Makin, Allan Johnston and Nicky Summerbee, Kevin Ball and Alex Rae. What we old gits would give to see their like now! Unfettered by the memories Keir gives the current squad his ratings for their performance against West Ham. Out of ten that is!

Jake: 'save yourself from a lifetime of misery, Keir'
Jake: ‘save yourself from a lifetime of misery, Keir’

Sunderland 1 – 2 West Ham – Player Ratings

My disappointment immune system broke down.

Vito Mannone: 7
Did well. Made some excellent saves and went up for the corners, which was fun. Still have a lot of faith in him.

Phil Bardsley: 5

To be fair to him, he was playing right-wing for a lot of the game, but even so, more end product is certainly required. Put in a lot of effort, as usual, but failed to do anything with it, at all.

John O’Shea: 2

A really poor game in which he completely lost Carroll for their opener, and then wasted time & possession over and over again. Really think he needs a rest.

Santiago Vergini: 5
Massively better than against Liverpool, but that’s not saying much. Did reasonably well, didn’t really shine. Perhaps could’ve stopped their second.

Wes Brown: 6
Did rather well. Not much of note to say on him, really. Did as a centre-back should.

Marcos Alonso: 4
Massive let-down, still not as bad as most.

Liam Bridcutt: 1
Woefully, woefully poor. Waylaid passes non-stop, failed to impose himself on the opposition and broke up our own play with his lack of pace and accuracy. Abysmal performance.

Lee Cattermole: 2
The more I think about the chance he squandered in the first half, the more I think two things. The first is that he will never, ever, score a goal. It’s just not meant to be. The second is that he is completely useless in front of goal and he really, really should’ve scored. Massively disappointing game that was summed up by that miss.

Ki Sung-Yueng: 3
Better than his other midfielders, but still failed to produce anything much and was not his usual self, as he, like Bridcutt but to a lesser extent, wasted some of our chances to attack by being too slow and too sloppy.

Fabio Borini: 3
Put in massive amounts of effort, but, like Bardsley, failed to do anything with the chances he had. We’ve seen much better games from Borini.

Connor Wickham: 4
Did fairly poorly, but shows signs of improving. Still massively better than Jozy Altidore, so deserves to start next week.

Adam Johnson: 8

Scored a goal, and gave us courage in attack. Fantastic performance that proves that he must start as many games as possible until the end of the season, to give us at least a fighting chance of surviving. Was the only attacking player on the pitch by the end who wasn’t wasteful and had intent to do something productive. Man of the Match.

Craig Gardner: 6

Did surprisingly well, actually. Not brilliantly, but was solid and a threat, unlike the rest of the midfield.

Nacho Scocco: 2

Had a free header, which he put miles over. Yet another frustrating performance.

SAFC v Newcastle: a few last words of encouragement

Jake asks the Lads - ours - to get the season started, just nine games in
Jake asks the Lads – ours – to get the season started, just nine games in

You will go a long way to find a better buildup to the Wear-Tyne derby than here. Hands up the man who said, ‘you would say that, wouldn’t you?’.

But truly, we’ve had two pretty good “Who are You?’ interviews, a Guess the Score, a statistical review of the history of Wear-Tyne derbies and a well-argued debate on the jail sentence imposed on the Newcastle horsepuncher.

You can see all that by going to the home page – – and navigating from there.

Read moreSAFC v Newcastle: a few last words of encouragement

McCormick’s Craic: where was England’s flair?

John McCormick: nostalgic reading calls for a beer

Spain stutters through to the final, France ponders the rights and wrongs of stripping surly players of their bonuses and, once again, the national side leaves a major competition, outplayed and outclassed. John McCormick, on furlough in Westmorland, reflects upon the words of his wife and asks “where’s the flair?”…

Read moreMcCormick’s Craic: where was England’s flair?

Sunderland Observed: the midterm report

The Observer had an excellent feature on the football pages, copied by others, in which one supporter of each club in each game gave his or her own assessment and out-of-10 ratings. Pete Sixsmith was a regular
for our games. The feature is no more – more fool The Observer – but Pete was asked for his midterm assessment (NB ahead of the Spurs game) …

Read moreSunderland Observed: the midterm report

The Newcastle Soapbox: bad news comes in threes

The morning after. As we bid farewell to the thousands of gloating Mags who headed here yesterday, (and we’d have been smug, too, if we’d won), Pete Sixsmith has plenty to get off his chest and does so with customary eloquence, warning Steve Bruce that the rumblings in the stands are gathering force …

Three times
in Steve Bruce’s time as manager have we played our Tyneside neighbours and three times we have played in a manner that can, at best, be called disappointing.

Of the three, this was the worst. Last October was a one off, January was a game in which both sides were so awful that it can quickly be consigned to the far recesses of memory. But this one was different.

Read moreThe Newcastle Soapbox: bad news comes in threes

Soapbox: goodbye Jordan, give us a wave at Liverpool

Niall Quinn describes the deal as right for the club, says what no one denies, that Jordan Henderson “is a credit to himself, his family and Sunderland’s Academy”, and promises that work is in hand to strengthen areas that need it. Pete Sixsmith takes it philosophically, recalls another momentous transfer and adds his own tribute …

See also: Liverpool lullabies: Jordan Henderson, David Ngog and the wicked media

I remember where I was when news came through that Colin Todd had been sold. I was having a lunchtime pint in the Continental in Athaneum Street when someone came in and quoted from the Echo billboard outside: “Roker star leaves.”

This was long before the internet, mobile phones, Sky Sports News etc. In those days, that kind of headline usually meant someone like Colin Symm had gone to Lincoln City or Ralph Brand had signed for Invercockieleekie Wanderers. But we knew what this one was.

Read moreSoapbox: goodbye Jordan, give us a wave at Liverpool