Salut! Sunderland is the website that others increasingly turn to for opinions and analysis and once again the Observer newspaper asked Pete Sixsmith for his thoughts on the season so far. Here’s what he sent them but you’ll have to buy the paper to see if they print them.
IT’S BEEN A REAL STINKER SO FAR.
Performances have been well below what many of us hoped for and we are involved in a relegation struggle. The football has been dull and the home game with Queens Park Rangers reached new depths for unimaginative, turgid football. We have rarely imposed ourselves on a game and once we go a goal behind, the result is a foregone conclusion. A charitable mark would be 3/10.
Simon Mignolet has been the one bright spot. Our Belgian keeper has rarely made an error, despite playing behind a defence that appears to love giving opponents a goal start. Should the unimaginable happen, there will be a queue of top notch clubs looking to add him to their squads. Danny Rose has been another player who has triumphed in the face of adversity – but he’s not ours.
On the other hand, Adam Johnson has been a major disappointment and has not made the transition from occasional player at the League Champions to regular player at a (I wish) mid table club. He needs to show that he can have some influence on a game – we haven’t seen any evidence of that yet. James McClean is struggling to recapture last seasons form. Carlos Cuellar and John O’Shea are creaking at the back.
Martin O’Neill was a popular choice twelve months ago and still retains the backing of most fans but 5 out of 10 is about the score he would get. He needs to bring in an authoritative centre half and a midfielder with a bit of pace. Michael Dawson, perhaps? Maybe James McCarthy? A Ukrainian or Belgian keen to make an impact?
As for football losing its soul, I would wholeheartedly agree. Terry, Suarez, Serbia, huge inequalities at the top, Blatter, Barton et al push me more and more towards Northern League football and Rugby League. You just get the feeling that the top end of the game has become a huge sewer – what you put into it is what you get out of it.
See also: Monsieur Salut talks all things Sunderland at ESPN FC: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/blog/_/name/sunderland?cc=5739