Soapbox: more reflections on Blackpool, jitters before Blackburn


The post-Christmas setbacks have left Pete Sixsmith in a gloomy mood. The possible absence of Welbeck and Gyan when we face Blackburn hasn’t lifted his spirits. But surely he is going too far down the road of pessimism to suggest we could find ourselves in trouble …

Two days later and a short viewing on Match of the Day have done little to assuage my disappointment after Tuesday’s result.

The Northern Echo sent Steph Clarke to cover the game. I assume she is a young journalist, finding her way in the world and has been told not to upset the powers that be at Premier League football clubs. She wrote in a positive vein and even gave Gyan and Bent a score of seven each out of 10. Maybe she confused the mark with the number of chances missed by each player. (Not as bad as the Sunderland Echo, Pete; its headline reads “Gary Rowell: How did Sunderland lose against Blackburn?” – ed)

I wondered what Frank Johnson, who wrote about Sunderland for many years in the Echo, would have said about a team who created 33 shots at goal and forced an eccentric and accident prone goalkeeper into making one difficult save?

Now, I hear that Welbeck and Gyan may well be out injured for Saturday’s game against Blackburn. We may have to field a lone striker in Bent as, in Campbell’s continued absence, we have nobody else to cover. Is Ryan Noble still at Derby? Maybe we will recall him and he will show the experienced lads how to put one or two in.

I notice that the manager is complaining about the number of games we have to play over Christmas and New Year. Hasn’t it always been like this? I can remember the days when the same team was played twice over the holiday, often on successive days. There’s nothing new about it.

Football is an entertainment and a business. You need people through the gates to make money. People are off work at Christmas and probably want a day at the football. It would be foolish and counter productive to deny them the chance to watch a game. We have already lost the two-game Easter and it would be an act of gross stupidity to reduce the Christmas list.

Mind you, we could have done without the extra game after New Year’s Day.

Why a game has to be fitted in then, I do not know. Oh yes I do – it is to accommodate the sides playing in Europe and the national teams in their Euro qualifiers. Tails wagging dogs yet again. We have a Wednesday night trek to Birmingham; this could have been left until later in the year as there is every likelihood that both sides will be knocked out of the FA Cup – the dates for Rounds 3-6 have been left blank; it used to be Rounds 3 and 4 only.

More thoughts on Blackpool and positive ones as well. They played like a Championship side in an FA Cup tie and it looked like they play that kind of game every week. If they win, they win, if they are walloped, they don’t change the style.

Do we have a style of play? I don’t think we do. We seem to switch from one mode of play to another, without ever really allowing our players to settle. Riveros may well have performed the same task that the admirable David Vaughan did for Blackpool and, when he went forward, Elmohamady was almost as effective as the excellent Matt Phillips.

I am just a wee bit disillusioned at the moment. The last two games have been a wake up call and we now need to retrieve something from the next two so that we have some confidence before the return against the Mags.

Are we any good or is this the start of yet another slide?

The Christmas results leave us looking over our shoulders for the first time this year. Three good wins will settle the nerves (I’m not including the Notts County match in that), so let’s hope that we have fit players who can hit the target. Malbranque and Zenden up front on Saturday?

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4 Responses to “Soapbox: more reflections on Blackpool, jitters before Blackburn” Subscribe

  1. malcolm December 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    A few questions I have asked myself in the post mortem. No doubt SB is asking them too.

    1) Are Bent and Gyan going to gel in an effective way or are they going to prove ineffective together? Will it be better having one + Welbeck when all three are available?

    2) How much did Blackpool’s lack of undersoil heating help – allowing their players a physical and mental break? How much would we have benefitted from postponements knowing Turner, Bramble, Mensah etc. would probably be fit enough to play in any re-arranged fixtures.

    3) Next time a long range free kick hits the frame of the goal will it go in?

    4) When is Steeeeed finally going to get a goal? Bad luck on Sunday. Ditto Elmo.

    5) How long will the Bent drought continue and is it really just a blip?

    Ah the highs and lows of following Sunderland AFC. A win against Blackburn, another against the other Mags and with Wembley beckoning after a home draw in the 4th round against Stevenage Borough and all will be sweetness and light again.

    Happy New Year one and all!

  2. Bill Taylor December 30, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    Blackpool “played like a Championship side in an FA Cup tie and it looked like they play that kind of game every week. If they win, they win, if they are walloped, they don’t change the style.”
    They have 25 points from 17 games; that’s only two fewer than Sunderland with three games in hand over the Cats. They don’t get walloped all that often.

  3. Dave December 30, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    The result against Blackpool was very disappointing and causes us fans untold frustration as the expectation was high, typical Sunderland I suppose. But then isn’t it also typical that we get a whole load of injuries at once at the most crucial time? Are we cursed?
    Then we have are strikers (actually it was just about everyone in the team who had a shot) who could not put the ball into the back of the net. This sort of event can have a huge influence on confidence, so we need to be up for it against Blackburn (given their recent away win).
    This is where the squad players come into play and will tell us if we have enough strength in depth, (I don’t think we have and a little foray into the transfer market in January may be required to keep things fresh).
    Lets all hope we get a good positive response from the team and the best of starts to 2011.

    Happy new year to all

  4. Frank Johnson December 31, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    Pete Sixsmith wonders what Frank Johnson would have written in the Echo about a team which created 33 chances and yet brought only one decent save. Well…..here I am.
    My two sons told me all about it and I watched the lowlights on tele.
    I think I might have been a little more scathing than some of the reports I have read……but there again it seems as though everyone has to keep in with the management/players/club these days. They don’t seem to like any criticism or caustic comments – after all they are superstars and expecting them to play two games in three days must seem to them like working on the pyramids!
    I can’t believe the team created 33 chances and didn’t manage to put even one away. I wonder how many Len Shackleton, Trevor Ford, Brian Clough, Gary Rowell or Kevin Phillips would have scored? I’ll bet even Kevin Kyle and Thomas Hauser might have been on target (maybe I’m being a bit optimistic there).
    In 42 years covering Sunderland I watched all kinds of games, from the sublime to the absolutely diabolical but I cannot remember any Sunderland team failing to score from 33 chances.
    Don’t know if Steve Bruce should cut their pay or cut their throats. But he rarely has a bad word to say about them – they don’t half get off lightly these days!
    But Pete, just keep believing. One of these days your dreams will come true (we hope!).

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