Rob Hutchison enclosed a short comment on today’s game:
“Hellish effort. Like watching MoN stuff towards his end. Possession stats of our PL games this season leave the alarm bells clanging madly. Spurs(a) 26%, Eve(h) 33%, Sot(a) 36%, Boro(h) 47%, Mcfc(a) 23%.”
And followed this with poor marks for most in his one-word ratings
Salut! Sunderland has been banging on for years about diving, the feigning of injury, unprofessional attempts by players to get opponents booked or sent off and other forms of cheating. The issue is raised with every “Who are You?” interviewee and I can think of only one or two who said too much fuss was made of it.
But should we really accept that British players are largely blameless, or that they were until they caught the nasty habits of Johnny Foreigner?
There are thousands of displaced humans enduring unspeakable hardship, risking, and suffering, death as they try to escape regimes that have destroyed their lives*. Compared to that the Transpennine Express, even on its worst days, shades into insignificance. I really shouldn’t complain. Yet, I still don’t enjoy the too-long journey, hence my original plan to come up by car and return straight after the game.
Malcolm Dawson writes….Pete Sixsmith and I had different opinions on the trip to the game yesterday. He thought that this could be a defining moment – a win would mean we could look forward to a a relatively comfortable rest of the season but a loss would result in another year of constant struggle and perpetual fighting in the relegation cock pit. My view was that I wanted to see the impact of the new boys and some seeds of hope that we could turn a corner, if not immediately then in the weeks to come. Losing was obviously not what I hoped for but a good performance was what I wanted to see. I shared Dick’s concerns that a lack of match fitness might limit Borini and Toivonen’s contributions but that with a few games under their respective belts they would lift the side and inject some much needed pace into the team. I expected them both to start. Pete thought the manager would go with Danny Graham and bring the Italian on later in the game. What neither of us predicted was a start for Jordi Gomez. And for two thirds of the game we saw a side that looked like they had played together for ages. Borini started on the left and Lens on the right. We had pace on the flanks and pace down the middle. Kaboul, another signing who had lacked sufficient pre-season action, showed how much a player can improve after a few games to sharpen up their stamina. This could well be Dick’s preferred starting XI and once fit should prove to be a handful for most sides we meet in this league if they continue to gel the way they did yesterday. Pete’s pre-match prediction may well still prove him right as we still haven’t played any of the so called title contenders and we are becoming desperate for a win, but this was nothing like the performance we saw against Norwich. Then I was wondering if a season ticket had been a good idea. Now I feel we have something worth watching. Here’s Peter’s take on proceedings from his usual seat in the East Stand.
It could have been a momentous weekend. On Saturday, the Labour Party elected a dyed in the wool socialist as its leader for the first time since Keir Hardie in 1905. Many rejoiced, others shook their heads in dismay, but all accepted that it was something radically different.
Something equally radically different was going to be needed 24 hours later at The Stadium of Light if we were to win our first game of the season and move up to the heady heights of 13th and plonk Chelsea into the relegation zone. And although we got closer to Spurs than Burnham, Cooper and Kendall did to Saint Jeremy, we still lost. For half the game we were the better side. For a quarter of the game, it was even-stevens. But for the final quarter, the one that really, really mattered, it was Spurs who showed their pedigree and won the game with a well worked goal from the tidy Ryan Mason.
We trooped out in disappointment. We had seen the team play well for much of the game and play very well for parts of it. The general consensus was that we like Toivonen, we very much like M’Vila and it was good to see Borini back. But there was that nagging, worrying feeling that we cannot yet finish teams off – and a patchy Tottenham side were there for the taking in the first half. The football we played was crisp and sharp and the players seemed to know what they were supposed to do. A year ago to the day, Spurs took us apart in the early stages of the game but there was to be none of that this year. Last year we had a debutant lining up in Ricky Alvarez, who spent twenty minutes wondering where the ball was. This year, we had the return of Fabio Borini who was involved from the very start.
What we needed was for Borini to open the scoring with one of those searing runs that he has. We didn’t get it, but we did get a performance that showed that he has an appetite for the game in general and Sunderland AFC in particular. He used his upper body strength to out muscle Tottenham defenders, ran into space and seemed to form a footballing “relationship” (nothing to worry about, Erin) with Van Aanholt and, later on, Jones. He never really looked like scoring but he brought zest to a forward line that, for the first time in a long time, had some pace and craft and skill in it.
No Fletcher and no Graham meant that Defoe got his chance to play through the middle and he looked a far more effective player there than he does when he is wide. He could, perhaps should, have scored when he hit the post in the first half when he outstripped a ponderous Spurs defence but his link up play was excellent and he was involved for much of the game – not something that always happens when he is made to play wide.
On the right side of the three, Lens had another effective game. He can dribble and he can pass. He can shoot and he can cover his full back. He is another player known to Advocaat who clearly fits in with the system that he wants to play. Compare Lens and Toivonen with Buckley and Bridcutt, the previous Head Coach’s “known players,” and it’s like comparing Timothy Taylors Landlord with Watneys Red Barrel.
But we did slip up and that looks to be as a result of a lack of match fitness and some disappointing performances from our substitutes. Toivonen was clearly struggling from the 60th minute while Gomez also found a full game difficult. Both played well. The Swede is a big man. He wins challenges in midfield and could be a very important player as the season progresses. His strength is in contrast to Gomez, a relatively lightweight player, but one who can pick out a pass and has the knack of being in the right place at the right time. The one thing they have in common is that they are footballers with experience and they are not quite the pampered products of the English academy system.
As they went off, Cattermole and Rodwell appeared – and both have to share some blame for the Spurs goal, well worked as it was. Cattermole in particular showed a complete lack of awareness as Mason and Lamela sashayed through the defence.
It was a well worked and well taken goal, but one that provoked groans in the East Stand as we could see that our midfield had stopped picking up. Rodwell hit the bar a few moments later and a draw would have been the least we deserved but it was not to be and another opportunity to get up and running was lost. But there were positives to take from this viz:
O’Shea and Kaboul look a solid central defensive pairing, with Kaboul doing the running and O’Shea the organising. Kaboul looks match fit. Yann M’Vila may be the “bad boy of French football,” but he can play the game. His passing and tackling were outstanding throughout. He is another one who will be even better when fully match fit.
A similar result last year (and the year before, the year before that …. ad infinitum) would have been met with groans and a few boos. This was met with warm applause as the support can see that there is a different footballing philosophy at the club. Having said all this, we need to start winning games. Bournemouth on Saturday is an important one as they are a mere two points above us. But the bottom of the table is not a nice place to be – but we may well be off it if West Ham can find some home form tonight.
Malcolm Dawson writes….we looked like a team that knows what it’s about today. At least for the first hour or so. Borini, Gomez and Toivonen started but lacking match fitness began to tire after the hour mark. All the new boys looked good. M’Vila slotted into the holding role well and his tireless running and coolness on the ball meant that a more confident PVA also turned in a good performance. It is hard to fault anyone in the starting line up and we could have been ahead when a great run from Defoe put him one on one with the keeper only to see his shot rattle the post. An inch or two further right and it would have bounced into the net but instead it went safe. Not long afterwards he again broke clear and should have had a penalty when he was clearly pulled back and denied a clear cut shooting opportunity. That’s how it looked from my seat and I’ll wait for MOTD to prove my eyes aren’t that bad. One or two nil up and it could all have been so different. Dick is as happy as any manager can be when he’s seen his team lose but I’m in agreement with the sentiments he expresses in his post match e-mail to M. Salut and the rest of the SAFC supporting world.
I think we deserved more than zero points but we can still be proud of the way we played.
The team gave everything to get a result and you could see that from the fans – even after the game was 1-0 they applauded the players. The way we played football-wise is also improving a lot and I think that is what the fans like to see. There is no doubt it is the best we have played this season.
We went for the attack, went to score goals and we had opportunities, but we failed score and at the end you get one goal which is unlucky but also because of the quality of Spurs.
If we keep working like this and keep playing like this the points will come.
Thanks for your support,
We’ve had – and still got – Guess the Score, at https://safc.blog/2015/09/safc-v-tottenham-hotspur-guess-the-score-returns-as-a-mugs-game/. There’s a mug from Personalised Football Gifts awaiting the winner, who can be a Sunderland of Spurs supporter or follow neither team.
And we’ve had a Who are You? with Richard Littlejohn, such a good interview that even Littejohn’s natural enemies, from Sixer to the Sheriff of Nottingham for all we know, were heard offering polite applause. Catch it for yourselves, if you haven’t already, at https://safc.blog/2015/09/tottenham-hotspur-who-are-you-with-littlejohn-west-hams-loss-spurs-gain/.
Salut! Sunderland’s ‘Who are You?’ series, in which we interview supporters of SAFC opponents, has had some notable catches, including actors, writers, broadcasters, footballers and managers as well as a great procession of ‘ordinary’ fans, often extraordinary people who follow their teams with passion and commitment. As a broad church, we’ve had senior clerics, too.
But we return to journalism for the first of this season’s Tottenham Hotspur editions of ‘Who are You?’ and hear from the tub-thumping columnist and broadcaster Richard Littlejohn*, who rebelled against his family’s West Ham-supporting tradition when the double-winning Spurs side of 1961 captivated him as a boy of seven. Littlejohn, scourge of the politically correct and anyone who says ‘hey Little John, so where’s Robin Hood, then?’, will be relieved to hear the interview has been approved by ‘elf ‘n’ safety’ …
Wouldn’t it be nice to see a repeat on Sunday, with Jermain Defoe taking Darren Bent’s place as the ex-Spurs striker with a point to prove? You’ve seen Guess the Score – https://safc.blog/2015/09/safc-v-tottenham-hotspur-guess-the-score-returns-as-a-mugs-game/– and you will or can see the Richard Littlejohn “Who are You?” interview tomorrow but let’s hark back to a vital morale-boosting win in Sunday’s equivalent fixture of 2010 …
Far too early for a Sunday game but the cupboard is otherwise bare so let’s go with Guess the Score. One good excuse: we have the return of prize mugs for winners to gloat about …
Too late for winners so far – in fact there may have been only one, apart from the Swansea game and its special prize and he’s already got mugs galore – Salut! Sunderland is delighted to announce the resumption of Guess the Score as a prize competition.