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Barclays Premier League
Date: Saturday 15th August
Venue: Stadium of Light, Sunderland
Attendance: 41, 379
Goals: Martin 26’, Whittaker 37’, Redmond 57’, Watmore 88’
It feels great to be home, and by home I mean the Stadium of Light for our first home league fixture of the season.
A lot of improvements have been made to the stadium since last season, most notably the fan-zone located near the ticket office. I love the whole concept of it, It’s a great way to have a bit of a laugh with the guys before kick-off as they downed their pints whiles I stuck to my pre-match bottle of water (will be three years this December since I gave up the drink, something that I’m immensely proud of) and the chance to have to have some banter with the Norwich fans. We talked about our opening day horrors against Crystal Palace and Leicester where we agreed that this will be an edgy affair with both teams obviously not wanting to make it successive defeats in the new season. I also learn’t that Norwich fans refer to their rivals, Ipswich Town, as the ‘bin-men’. So what do they refer to actual bin-men in Norwich?
Anyway, last time out we were completely shocking. Improvements had to be made in this match. The starting line-up was an interesting choice with John O’Shea being dropped to the bench along with Jack Rodwell (a move which proved popular), Coates and Kaboul getting a second shot at redemption in the centre of defence and M’Vila making his debut.
The real worry was just how depressing our subs bench looked. No game changers as far as I can see and a clear sign about how badly we need to invest. There are no attacking options there at all and the likes of Gomes and Mavrias are nowhere to be seen. I’m also amazed that Fletcher and Defoe are being used on the wings. Defoe is ineffective on the wing.
I entered this match geared up with the belief that we’ll get for first three points of the season and really kick off.
The first half ended with us being 2-0 down after 40 minutes and almost half the ground departing for the exit.
Like last week, it was a whole heap of errors with the usual suspects of Kaboul, Cattermole, Van Aanholt and Billy Jones leading the blunder charts. Kaboul looks so damn vulnerable at the back and Patrick’s passing was off. He consistently blown opportunities due to his inability to control the ball and he can’t trap the ball for love nor money. Our full backs are going to cost us this season with their lame duck first touch believe me. Everything we did was completely all over the place in terms of organisation, passing and sharpness.
Why oh why are we so shit at defending corners? Common sense tells you that when the opposition play the short corner you need two men to close down a two on one situation otherwise the loan defender is left for dead. It’s simple stuff. I learnt that playing that during P.E! And how was Lee Cattermole unable to hear 40,000 + screaming ‘man on’? Did he think they were cheering “Catter-Man-ole” in support? How did Kaboul concede the corner in the first place? Why is it that John Ruddy hasn’t had a single shot to save in the first 30 minutes? I mean this in no disrespect to Norwich City fans but being dominated against a team that were promoted from the Championship last season is embarrassing. When you’re making the likes of Robbie Brady look like the second coming of Pele, you know that a serious problem exists. We can’t hold the ball; put a move together and are always one step behind the opposition. We had a massive hole in our midfield once we got into their half and Norwich just continued to exploit it. What did we do about it? Nothing because that’s the Sunderland way.
I’ve been critical of Kaboul but I’ll give him his due, he done well with the last ditch challenges but it really shouldn’t come down to that though at the end of the day.
As soon as the second goal went in, a cracker from Whittaker, the fans just departed the stadium like the red sea. Funny watching the stewards trying to convince them to stay because why should they? I shouldn’t be surprised by this; I’m too immune by it.
Seb Larson was replaced by the goal machine that is Danny Graham in the second half. Looks like we’ll turn it around now, huh? A third goal was always on the cards and it eventually came by a former Sunderland target that slipped through the net, Nathan Redmond. Lee Cattermole screwed up yet again while PVA just stood there like a fan in the stands as oppose to being a ‘professional’ footballer, you know, that thing he gets paid to do.
Norwich continued to create chances at will whiles we struggled to get into their half and ended up booting the balls into nowhere hoping for the best instead of looking for a pass. The restless crowd began chanting, “Are you watching Ellis Short”.
PVA got progressively worse as the second half went on. Why did he go into centre midfield and leave Lens at left back when he had the chance to get the ball back and just ended up putting in the weakest and most pathetic tackle ever? You’re a fucking defender, mate. You’re apart the last line of defence between yourself and the goalkeeper, your job to prevent the opposition from progressing towards goal and being the link to the midfield. Get fucking stuck in you fairy!
Next week in the league we’re up against Swansea City. If Wes Hoolahan can pull our defence to shreds, I dread to think what the likes of Andre Ayew will do.
The crowd roared their approval when young Duncan Watmore came on and scored. I like the lad very much. He shows great energy and determination and has that little something special about him. For the 20 minutes that he’s been on he’s already put the rest of our team to shame. Sunderland then responded by playing tippy tappy passing football around the penalty area……our own penalty area I should add. Clever stuff there, lads!
If I could pick out the positives from this game it would be the performances from Watmore, M’Vila and Lens. M’Vila could be a huge asset to us in the long term. He’s got great physical presence, gets his legs first to everything and is always looking for an opening. Lens is also someone who can add to the team. He can’t tackle at all. Even Lee Cattermole would be like, “bit reckless that challenge like, mate”.I could add more positives but I’ll be serving up more whoopers than Burger King.
Last week against Leicester we were poor, this week against Norwich we were diabolical. Already two games into the new season and a large majority of fans have lost faith with the club. I struggle to get my head round that we’ve managed to get Premier League football for the past nine seasons with a poor, lean looking squad. God help us if the injuries pile up because we’ll be in some serious shit.
How the hell can we not compete with Norwich? We’ve made the smallest of improvements and, dare I say it, we look even worse then what we did under Poyet. We’re even worse than what Newcastle were under ‘the best manager in the Premier League’ John Carver.
No heart, no team spirit, we look like a team that was assembled at the bus stop and our pace is nowhere to be seen. Marking set pieces was comical. Sitting back and allowing Norwich to control the game proved to be the downfall, we should have been all over them like a rash as soon as the first goal went in and putting pressure on the ball, forcing Norwich into make a mistake then capitalising on it, instead, we stood off, defended from deep and lost the game 3-1.
No shape, totally disjointed, disorganised, woeful in defence and zero attacking efforts. Defoe has no service and nothing to work with due our lack of creative players. People say ‘buy a new striker’ but if there’s no creativity to accompany it, what’s the point?
Elsewhere, South Shields won 6-0. My mate used to play for them.
I seriously fear the worst for Sunderland. We’ve been hovering around the relegation zone for the past few seasons now and nothing seems be done about it. Beating Chelsea 3-0 at Stamford Bridge (I swear that actually happened in reality not on FIFA) seems like a distant memory. Will we get relegated this season? Put it this way, if I was a bookie I’d refuse to take bets.
I am a Sunderland fan; I may be accused of being favourable in saying that we have some top quality fans. Our fans are top draw, but the squad is bargain basement. It hurts watching the club decline so much in all my years of following them and it can’t be tolerated any longer. Watching Watmore play out his skin is a testament to our academy. We’ve got Exeter City in the Capital One Cup so let’s use that game to give our youth prospects a chance. They have desire and the belief that they deserve to be given a chance in the first team. They’ll be desperate to show their worth because a large majority of them may be local Sunderland lads. So many teams in the Premier League prefer to spend millions on the finished article rather than believing that they have a hidden gem at their youth academies. Let’s give the young guns a chance to shine against Exeter, let’s experiment with a different tactic instead of aimlessly booting the ball up field and hoping the best.
Our playing staff isn’t up to scratch, but a lot of fans, myself included, feel that the bigger problem lies with the board, in particular Mr. Ellis Short himself. A Director of Football isn’t needed. It hasn’t worked in the past with our below par managers and bad signings. When you look and see where clubs like Swansea City and Stoke City were ten years ago (Stoke struggling in the Championship and Swansea facing both relegation from League Two and liquidation) and seeing how well they’ve being ran down (as well as recent runs in the Europa League), I ask myself, why can’t we do the same? That’s because we don’t have football people running the club. We have business men who are clueless about the game. Do you honestly think Ellis Short knew who Sunderland were before he bought the club? Of course he fucking didn’t. It’s like me getting a job as a paperboy at the age of 28 (yes I’m 28, fuck you) sure I like the extra money but I don’t need it because that’s the only reason why I took it on in the first place. There’s no structure within the club and that’s what’s running us into the ground. You would think that after nine years in England’s top flight of football that progression is being made. None existent.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Dick Advocatt resigned. He was looking forward to his retirement last season so he doesn’t need this anymore. He has massively underestimated the size of the problem here at Sunderland.
Ellis Short needs to face the cameras and tell the fans what his intentions for the club are. Penny pinching at this level will only come back to haunt you and we’re paying the price for it. With the way the game is run in this day and age, we’re not an attractive proposition to invest in. Revenue from the fans is irrelevant if the owner doesn’t dig deep into his pockets and backs the manager.
We’ve got Exeter soon in the Capital One Cup and Swansea at home in the league. The transfer window is still open and reinforcements are needed badly. Judging from our first two games we need a centre back, a right back, a left back, a winger, an attacking central midfielder and a forward. Something needs to happen in both the upcoming games and the transfer window otherwise it’s going to be a long, hard and ultimately disappointing season.
This isn’t the club I fell in love with as a child, this isn’t the club I cheered on from the stands at Roker Park, this isn’t the club entertainment me during the late 90s/ early 2000s, this isn’t the club I watched at Wembley Stadium on two separate occasions and this isn’t the club that I want to see suffer the heartache of relegation once again.
It isn’t the people’s club anymore. The identity of the club has been lost to corporate greed as they’ve ripped the very heart out of the club and hold it aloft for the world to see as the blood trickles down their arm.
Current league position (out of 20): 20th
Rif’s MOTM: Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City): Set up two goals for his team and was present throughout.
Next game: Swansea City @ The Stadium of Light