Jake’s imagination

Monsieur Salut suffered the annoyance familiar to most football fans, stuck 39,000 feet high while the Lads were in action. Turning the phone back on at Heathrow, two and a half hours after the final whistle at Reading, I found my eyes drawn first of all to Martin O’Neill‘s post-match e-mail, the headline – ‘we’ve lost a game we shouldn’t have’ – adding to the gloom of returning to the British winter from Sri Lankan sun. I read somewhere else that we were outplayed for long periods but should still have won. Outplayed! By Reading! Can Martin’s Musings shed further light? …

Dear Colin,

I don’t know how we lost the game. We had a couple of great chances to win it and it’s very disappointing to be on the losing side.

We got back into the match after conceding an early goal, a bit like at Wigan, and it was deservedly so with the penalty kick.

Jake catches the bright moment

Jake catches the bright moment


With 10 minutes to go you thought that if any side was going to win it that it would have been us, then we conceded the goal – a header from two yards out – and it’s hard to take.

It was a very difficult pitch to play on, but I thought we applied ourselves well considering the conditions.

We got back into the game after going a goal down early on and I thought we were creating the better chances.

The goalkeeper made a fine save to deny Danny Graham late on and Alfred N’Diaye had a chance go wide at the near post.

Overall we’ve lost a game with four minutes to go that we shouldn’t have lost.

All the best,

Beware of forgeries


Martin O’Neill

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

14 Responses to “Martin’s Musings on Reading defeat: another bumpy landing the boss cannot fathom” Subscribe

  1. John Mac February 2, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    Dear Martin,

    I know how we lost the game. We gave away possession with poor passes and sloppy fouls in dangerous areas and then failed to defend adequately.

    Had we had some semblance of service to our highly competent striker this might not have mattered but our midfield played as individuals and did not support or work for each other. Consequently Reading’s defence was able to cope with our attacking threats and support their own midfield, who kept us under pressure.

    You and the team let a lot of people down today and feigning ignorance is not acceptable.

  2. Alan February 3, 2013 at 12:07 am #

    To true John same again five across the midfield that are simply not good enough not enough movement or creativity again I seem to say this a lot but its true this week it is reading not Barcelona for gods sake Martin have a go and stop flooding the midfield with inactive players that can’t pass the ball another bad performance off one of the worst teams in the league as for your tactics you got it wrong again maybe your p45 is not far away we can’t keep playing like this get it right or get out maybe you are out of your depth..

    • Mick February 3, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

      Reading 2 Sunderland 1 , live with it , on the day Reading were better, we are competing in the best league without spending millions on players like yourselves , we might not be easy on the eye , but if we’re the worst team what does that say about youselves ,

  3. Ian_SAfc February 3, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    Its simple: we’re just too negative and defensive. When the ball does get up to Fletcher, the rest of the lads are miles away and there’s no threat.
    I’ve said it before, but we need to break quickly and make more positive runs and get people in the box.
    Sometimes we had one body in the box surrounded by four Reading players.
    Our defensiveness means we don’t concede many , but also it can lead to our players not bothering to make quick runs and support the forward line. So, we don’t score and the ball just comes back. : s

    • William C February 3, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

      I’m not against playing with a target man, but anyone who has ever played the game knows that you must get midfield players up to play off him. Is that rocket science?

      I really felt sorry for Fletcher in the Swansea game, particuarly in the first half. Worryingly, O’Neill does not seem to get this, and I fear that his apparent inability to introduce variety into our game is going to cost us dearly.

      • Ian_SAfc February 3, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

        Exactly right. Its not rocket science. We just need to get our midfield breaking quicker and in more support of Fletch. One body in the box against four opposing players is not going to yield results.

        Our players have been drilled so much to get behind the ball and be defensive that when it comes to attack, they are hesitant. And the opposition get the ball and it just comes back.

  4. ifos February 3, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    Wasn’t able to get any information on the match yesterday due to work commitments, but if it was the same as the last 2 games with Sess out on the wing and a less mobile player behind Fletch it just doesn’t work. And why buy Graham just to play him as a sub. I said that my fear was that he was just swapping Swansea’a bench for ours. Here’s hoping that it was just because he’d only had one training session and that in the near future (Arsenal) we actually see them together from the start. 1 up front against Reading?!
    Was hoping for 6 points from the last 2 games, expected 4. Oh dear! We’re getting sucked back into it.

  5. Plan B February 3, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    I feel the same about Graham, was sure O’Neill would put him in, but it’s no surprise he didn’t and just played the same way. Three windows and only six permanent signings is a poor return and a lack of drive and ambition. I hope Short has a real look at the end of the season and demand more from O’Neill or just cut him loose. It’s sad to say that, but it’s just not working out.

  6. blzbob February 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    Are we any after signing johnson, he looks lazy ,slow can’t get past a man, free kicks and corners crap.

  7. Alan February 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    MON is to negative we all know strikers get the goals but midfielders are supposed to get a few aswell we are playing five in the midfield and they don’t get any the reason why they sit on top of our own back four instead of breaking there necks to get in the opponents box they are either not fit enough or not good enough if so ship them out they are dead wood we need to play two up front or the championship awaits …

  8. Alan February 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Am I the only supporter who has looked at the remaining fixture list with some apprehension? Half a century of experience tells me we are not yet out of the relegation woods, and more performances like those against Swansea and Reading will undoubtedly see us back in it. Do the manager and team think we are safe already, as they appeared to do last season? I suggest we urgently need to gather 8 or 9 points from the next 5 matches to (almost) ensure safety. If not, we then embark on the sequence ManU – Chelsea- Newcastle – Everton. This could easily result in four defeats and leave the final four games looking much more difficult and potentially fatal than they do at present. We could yet again sleepwalk to disaster….

  9. CSB February 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    This is possibly the most negative set of postings yet on the MON management at Sunderland by a good few regular contributors. After a luke warm transfer window and two quite frankly horrendous displays in the league are doubts cracks begnning to appear in the faithful?

    Having watched both the Swansea and Reading games it is difficult to disagree with any of the comments posted here. MON appears to be displaying Brucesque traits in his failure to address fundamental failings in personnel and tactics.

    MON is beginning to stretch the belief of the faithful and really needs to think long and hard about team tactics as we are stuck with the squad we have now for the remainder of the season. This is not really whatI I signed up for when supporting the appointment of MON nd realised that it would take time, but we appear to have not even addessed the fundamentals and if anything are standing still or worse going backwards.

    MON really needs to introduce some zip into our play because losing is one thing but losing in the turgid style we have been is something else. We don’t expect to be league leaders (yet) but we should expect a decent standard of play for the outlay at the Club and this is quite clearly not happening……..worrying days right now as a Sunderland fan!

  10. A T Hedley February 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    What a memorable game. The thrill of watching one’s club with the wonder striker we have waited with anticipation for throughout the transfer window to sign, now sitting on the bench. Never mind we could settle back in our surprisingly spacious seats to watch our beloved team’s exciting and stimulation attacking performance with yet again one up front.

    Fletcher, bless his heart, put in a shift. It was a fascinating expose on the almost telepathic link between him and Sess, yep between him and Sess, he often would slip the ball to a vague shadow of a player, that we have see demonstrate almost terrifying talent, only for him to demonstrate how exciting a damp squib could be by comparison to Sess’s performance. Now Sess’ link with Fletcher? it might be summed up with who the fuck is Fletcher? Do I know him? Is he on the pitch?

    Oh the subtlety of Jack Colback’s game, the cunning way in which he compensates, game after game, time after time. for his complete lack of pace. Almost unseen other than to the refs, players and everyone else in the ground his first instinct is to grab the oppositions shirt but then to add breadth to his ability he pops in a new technique which is slightly more complicated because he grabs the opposition players arm. In either box he introduces another string to his quiver full of talents he wraps his arms around an opposition players waist. This boy knows how to keep us on our toes.

    Now we had a serious bit of bad luck soon after Kebe Reading’s most dangerous player had scored an excellent goal because we were awarded a fully justified penalty and Gardiner popped it way beautifully. The bad luck? Oh yes because it lulled our adventurous manager into thinking his novel fascinating policy of play one up front was working and we were in with a real chance of winning this game

    We cannot prosper with moribund defenders playing out of position, incapable coping with players like Kebe. Now my views on the player noted instantly as a big fat bastard by the Reading Fans. Yes he makes mistakes, yes he is a player who lives up to Readings nickname but he was in the main solid and is on one of his periodic improving cycles. He was to blame for the kick that failed to clear our lines that eventually brought Kebe in for his second goal but in my opinion our goalie should have been on that ball, like a rat up a drainpipe and Kebe would never have had a chance to score, unfortunately Mignolet stood rooted to the spot watching the flight of the ball.

    Hang on isn’t that silly I almost forgot Graham. Who you might say? That nonentity that our manager spent so much time and money in fighting to secure his services. Unbelievably he finally remembered that we had another possible goals scorer languishing on the bench,with a whole ten minutes to go in which he might make an impact . What a roar from the lads welcoming him what a change in attitude of the players who went on the attack with confidence, damn it he twice nearly scored on his debut but why so late MON what the hell are you thinking of, we could have won that game, Kebe was the only real difference in the sides and what a canny player he is.

    Verdict on Graham I may well have been wrong, Mon may well have been right but the buffoon cannot shake his attitude of safety first. So finally a few words for MON. Safety First is only safe if you actually have a decent defence, we don’t, ours depends on massing players to make up for a severe lack of speed.

    • Alan February 3, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

      Well said a.t.hedley you took the words out of my mouth now MON want to read your post to the players then read it again and again himself so he understands how most of us feel then he shud go into the stands and watch his team perform and he will be walking out early with anger in his blood like we are .

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