Dick Advocaat and Monsieur Salut are of a similar vintage, though he (DA) is fractionally older.
Even the pedigree bears superficial comparison:
* title-winning manager with top club and international experience, “currently unemployed” yesterday, managing Sunderland today in Dick’s case
* former chief reporter, executive news editor and Paris bureau chief of top broadsheet, “currently exploring other opportunities” yesterday, running Salut! Sunderland (yesterday and today) in M Salut’s case
But that tells only part of the story for at least one of them. We can safely assume Dick’s done OK.
And since we have a little in common, let’s see if we can get along …
First of all, welcome Dick. You’ve taken on a mighty challenge – keeping Sunderland in the Premier when they’ve been doing their damnedest to leave it – and have so little time to achieve it. On the plus side, recent seasons show it can be done, and from even more hopeless situations that the one you inherit.
SAFC.com lists eight of the remaining nine games, omitting Arsenal away on April 18 (maybe Poyet just faxed the points down to the Emirates to save trouble and expense?). This is the full list …
March: Sat 21 17:30 A West Ham Unite
April: Sun 05 16:00 H Newcastle United
Sat 11 15:00 H Crystal Palace
Sat 18 15:00 A Arsenal
Sat 25 15:00 A Stoke City
May: Sat 02 15:00 H Southampton
Sat 09 15:00 A Everton
Sat 16 15:00 H Leicester City
Sun 24 15:00 A Chelsea
Now for your new employees, Dick:
Pantilimon: decent shop-stopper, so tall he can claim crosses without jumping, woeful distribution, occasional misunderstandings with defenders
Jones: not often seen, not impressive when seen
Reveillere: vast experience at a high level (henceforth VAHL), cultured touches, sometimes left for dead, not the man you want jumping with Benteke for a deep cross
Van Aanolt: good going forward, utterly hopeless defending (our) left flank
Vergini: a hunk for female fans, evidently; his play can also be pretty, but is often dangerous
Brown (VAHL): solid as a rock on his day, but those days are less frequent now. Culpable vs Villa
O’Shea: (VAHL): excellent all season, all over the place vs Villa. Like Vergini and Brown, leads a charmed life with penalty area wrestling
Coates: not an answer to our defensive frailties
Larsson VAHL: player of a wretched season, but his industry is not always matched by achievement. Build the revival around him
AJ: er, absent just now
Cattermole: prone to gaffes, petulance and injury but we generally play better when he’s unhurt and unsuspended
Bridcutt: just not up to Premier football
Rodwell: can you be the one to make him finally deliver?
Buckley see Bridcutt
Alvarez nice touches, far too wayward and inconsistent
Gomez has good moments rather than good days. Worth persevering
Wickham needs to be invited to start earning his big new salary, perhap s by scoring as he did at the end of last season
Fletcher tried as hard as anyone, out of position, on Saturday (making him a 3 or 4 out of 10 as opposed to 2, 1 or zero). But his day job is scoring and he no longer does it. Not a kick-up-the-backside remedy, though, as he injures a little too easily
Graham: cannot score but puts in a shift. Poyet praised him to the hilt last week, then left him on the bench. You may find a better way
Defoe (VAHL):needs to be as sharp as we thought he’d be – in other words a great sharper than now – but also needs all preceding players to remember his lack of height. Play to his strengths instead of mistaking him for Niall Quinn
That’s about it, Dick. Or have I missed someone?
Your job is to make each of them prove me wrong if I’ve been over-critical. But have a look at the Under 21s, too. You may find more heart, more creativity, more threat there.
And good luck. You’ll need it but you’ll also start with the 100 per cent backing of the fans – and you’ll see just how special those fans are on Saturday.