Monsieur Salut writes: what was the transfer window like for you, Chris? Did you recruit an inspiring mix of flair and solid experience, the sort needed to get Sunderland out of the present mess? Or a bunch of journeymen hardly better than what we already have and available at the bottom end of the market because they cannot get a game anywhere else? Time will tell – and we can count on Pete Sixsmith to cast a clinical eye on the ins and outs at the Stadium of Light.
But first some unfinished business. Sixer was absent from St Andrew’s, his place on the old post-match Soapbox taken as usual by Robert Chapman, who approved at the ground apprehensive and left a seriously worried man, having seen one more wretched Sunderland collapse …
After the Hull win, followed by a weekend spent preparing the allotment for the new growing season, I was once again ready with an apprehensive sense of excitement to watch Sunderland. Birmingham away; I sensed it would end in disappointment, but one lives in hope with this club.
I checked out the Salut! Sunderland site before I set off, just to see how many reports I had completed and whether I had done one for Birmingham City away. I seemed to remember the last time I was at St Andrew’s was for a League Cup match in August 2014 where we huffed and puffed and finally managed a 3-0 win. That would do nicely I thought, while realising it was highly unlikely. It turned out I didn’t do the report so Pete must have been there that evening.
For the record, since the start of the 2012/3 season my report record is 11 defeats, seven draws and a solitary win (at Southampton). So, for you punters, if you know Pete is not going, do not put your money on an away win in any circumstance. Compiling match reports is a hard task after a poor performance and inevitable defeat. Maybe I should break a habit of a lifetime and back against Sunderland so that there is some benefit from my efforts.
I enjoy trips to Birmingham.
Usually a group of us will get the train from Northampton for a day out. However on this occasion I was on my own as everybody had work commitments or had predicted the outcome. With the away ticket allocation not sold out I knew there was a fair chance that I would catch up with my old university friend, Kev Sables (KevS on Salut). Kev is a regular contributor and in his most recent piece informed us of how he had once played against Johnny Giles.
Needless to say I caught up with Kev, complimented him and said that what Sunderland needed was a Johnny Giles. For those of you who never saw Giles play he was a cultured central midfield player who could do just about anything with the ball and then put his “foot in” when required. Sadly, the nearest we have to him is currently having a temper tantrum and has thrown his toys out of the pram and doesn’t want to play anymore.
Kev informed me that the unwell John O’Shea was replaced by Kone and that Matthews was replacing Jones from the side that started against Hull. It was nice to see Maja and Asoro paired up again, although we both agreed that in the short term they are not experienced or strong enough to get us through this difficult period. Both have the potential to be really good players; let’s hope we can hang on to both of them as they already have a good understanding between them and link up well.
The game got off to a predictable start with both sides adopting a long ball option. They were the better side and it took us a full 15 minutes before we were to put any pressure on their goal. However, I did think to myself that Ruiter was doing OK and that his kicking had improved. Sadly that was all shot to pieces in the 28th minute as Davis gave them the lead. A breakthrough down their right flank left him with a one on one with the keeper. Agonisingly for us, the ball squeezed underneath Ruiter when he should have done better. Our keepers seem to make at least one mistake per game and it is costing us dearly. This would have been a routine save for Pickford.
Things got significantly worse just before half time. With Kone injured on the half way line, a gap in the middle allowed Boga to head in firmly from Maghoma’s cross. Half time came with nothing positive to report – same old story.
The league’s lowest scorers then finished us off for good in the 58th minute. Gallagher, on loan from Southampton, had a simple tap in after some truly awful defending/goalkeeping. Three down, Sunderland finally decided to play a bit and compete.
Lua-Lua and McGeady were introduced and they certainly made a difference. Oviedo scored a late consolation after going close a few minutes earlier and this was deserved as he was our best player on the night. McGeady and Cattermole both had late chances but it was all too late, the damage had been done.
So, although Sunderland worked hard, they were just unable to compete with a bigger, stronger, quicker Birmingham side. Where do we go from here? I am pretty sure McGeady will have to come back in and LuaLua will probably start against Ipswich.
As I sit writing this during the afternoon of transfer deadline day, I know that decent players are probably not going to arrive. Let’s hope I am wrong. I am certainly not going to watch the dreadful Sky TV minute by minute coverage as I know it will end in disappointment. I need cheering up so I am going to forget about football and watch the first two episodes of Gomorrah.
Watching Mafia gangsters shooting each other has got to be more therapeutic than thinking about a possible Sunderland relegation.