John McCormick asks: Did you go to bed, or perhaps wake up, singing “The young ones”? Or maybe Bob and Marcia sprang to mind with “Young, gifted and black”. The old rockers among you might have thought of the Who and “The kids are alright” but not, I venture, “Happy Jack”.

I don’t know if Pete Sixsmith was singing at any point but here he is waxing lyrical, and isn’t it good to read:

‘ULL CITY

There were several strange things that happened on Saturday, post-match.

First of all, my view of the last ten minutes of the game was not blocked by a steady stream of spectators leaving the stadium early having had enough of the dire football that has (largely) been on display for the last eighteen months.

Secondly, the gents’ toilets were as full as the bladders of some of the occupants as there had been less of an inclination to nip out for a wee and a look at the other scores rather than watch the (largely) grim performances turned in by the team that we have been cursed to support. The mood in them was good as we smiled as we micturated, a welcome relief from the silence of the last few months.

Thirdly, there was a queue of traffic waiting to get on to the Wearmouth Bridge and the notorious traffic light bottleneck at the junction at the south end of the bridge was just like the old days as cars blocked off buses, buses blocked off cars and red lights were (largely) ignored.

And finally, there was a warm glow emanating from the occupants of those aforementioned vehicles, akin to the glow of the ReadyBrek kids and the area around Sellafield as we began to think what was unthinkable a week ago: that we might just drag ourselves out of the god awful mess that we find ourselves in and prepare for visits to the Sports Direct, Elland Road and Hillsborough next season rather than Highbury, The Kassam Stadium and (possibly) Accrington Stanley’s Crown Ground.

Right:

the other Highbury,

home of Fleetwood Town

The introduction of three of the club’s younger players had me harking back to season 1976-77 when, under the tutelage of an outstanding coach in Jimmy Adamson, Gary Rowell, Shaun Elliott and Kevin Arnott were thrown into the fray to try and retrieve what seemed like a hopeless situation.

After a 1-0 win over Bristol City, that team embarked on a run of games that offered hope and the possible acquisition of some glory in subsequent seasons, but we dropped down on the last day thanks to some spectacular gamesmanship (a euphemism) by Jimmy Hill and Coventry City.

Hopefully that last day scenario will not be repeated this year as Ethan Robson, Josh Maja and Joel Asoro try to replicate the (relative) success of the three who came in 41 years ago and who must now be close to drawing their state pensions. Throw in the impressive and cultured Jake Clarke-Salter, the tenacious Tyias Browning and the buzzing George Honeyman and we had six players who could also turn out for the Under 23’s at Eppleton if they fancied an extra game.

This was a committed and well organised performance and it reflects very well on Chris Coleman and his staff that clear instructions were given and, for once, were adhered to. I would imagine the first instruction would be

“Concentrate for ninety minutes and particularly at the end of the first half and the start of the second.” This was done.

astute observations by Sixer

The second one may well have been

“Win the challenges in midfield and don’t allow David Meyler to dominate as he did in the second half at their place.”

Mission accomplished as Lee Cattermole and Ethan Robson ratted around the Irishmen and reduced ‘Ull’s most important player to a bit part.

The third one was probably along the lines of

“They have a back four made up of three Chelsea loanees and a creaking Michael Dawson. The Chelsea lads will be good players but they are inexperienced and it’s an ideal scenario for Josh and Joel to run at them. Move the ball quickly, particularly along the ground and try to avoid the painfully slow build up that has become the norm in home games. We’ll get something if we do that.”

And didn’t we just. When a former international manager who has taken his team to the semi-finals of the European Championships says “I don’t think any team I’ve ever managed has scored a goal as good as that” you know that the words have sunk in and that the sweet bird of youth has shown that it can deliver.

It was a great goal and one that had me out of the seat that I have slumped in for most of the season. Cattermole’s ball to Honeyman was a good one, Honeyman’s ball to Asoro was even better and the finish was magnificent, reminiscent of Jermain Defoe at his best as he placed his shot wide of McGregor in the ‘ull goal and firmly in the far corner of the net. There was a genuine roar at that as the pent up frustrations of what has been a wretched period at The Stadium of Light all came out.

From that moment on, the crowd and the players set about their joint task of winning this game. Misplaced passes (there were a few) were not greeted with the usual groans. When Lee Cattermole won the ball with a terrific tackle and then passed it into a space that no Sunderland player could have been anywhere near, there were not the howls of derision that have been prevalent all season but genuine applause for getting at least 50% of it right.

Robbin Ruiter’s decision making was applauded and there was real power in the roars that greeted his outstanding saves in the last few minutes, one of which foiled the returning Meyler who was threatening to spoil the day again. Of the three returning formers, he was the best and he was average. Seb Larsson showed that he is a dreadful free kick taker whether it is red and white stripes or black and amber stripes that adorn his distinctly chubby body and Fraizer Campbell gave little indication that he had once played regularly in the Premier League and had been capped by England. Still a nice lad though.

I was impressed with Jake Clarke-Salter, the first hyphenated player I have seen in a red and white striped shirt. He looked composed and like all Chelsea’s young defenders, he is tall strong and mobile. Playing alongside John O’Shea will help him and I thought the Irishman was magnificent in this game. He won tackles and headers, made some crucial interceptions and led the team well, letting Browning and Clarke-Salter do the running while he sat and organised the defence. Browning is another good young player who has a future in the game but maybe not at the top level. He rumbles around like a tank and is difficult to knock off the ball. He has improved a lot since he first arrived.

There was a great League debut for Ethan Robson who showed persistence and ability and who worked well with Cattermole. This was best shown when he nagged away at Evandro and forced him into giving the ball away. It was the kind of thing that happens in a pick-up game down the park or in the street and would probably be frowned upon by most coaches but it was greatly appreciated by a crowd who want to support local lads rather than £70,000 a week flops from Southport or central defenders who lose interest once they have to take a drop in wages because the company (club) they are playing for has lost customers.

Jack Jones. (Can sing, but he can’t play like Billy)

This season I am usually home for the start of Loose Ends on Radio 4. After this game and the mass non-exodus, Clive Anderson had already interviewed the singer Jack Jones and was well into a chat with writer and actor Tim Cowbury when I walked into Sixsmith Towers. A B and S was placed next to my chair by the faithful retainer, the boots were kicked off and Fifi the maid entertained and amused me by relaying the scores from Eastlands  at regular intervals. Every time Aguero scored another snifter appeared and by the time that game ended the prospect of the resumption of the Wear-Tyne derbies seemed a little closer

Birmingham City next and that is another massive game. Let’s hope that this is not the usual one game revival and that we can take three points from the equally dismal Blues.

Keep the Faith, Comrades, Keep the Faith.

 The Joel Asoro video was found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2peEqUQ9YMs, published on Youtube by “Themadmistake”.
If there is any copyright claim, not answered by ‘fair use’ exemptions, on the  video and images used to illustrate this report, please make us aware and we will add credits or remove as requested.

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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.

4 Responses to “Sixer’s Soapbox: Strange goings on as Hull City come to town” Subscribe

  1. Dave January 21, 2018 at 3:55 pm #

    Great to have a nice Saturday evening. I sent a text to my son saying the first half was the best we had played all season. All the kids were really good and a small shout for Billy Jones who was actually having a good game before being injured. Also for Ruitter who was brilliant in the first half last week before making the key mistake and yesterday didn’t make any mistakes. I really hope that the match winning save he made from Meyler will give the confidence to go on.
    I have criticised Honeyman in the past for loads of effort and no quality. If he plays like he did yesterday then he will be really good for us. Not sure if it was having forwards ahead of him who were trying or a pair behind him working so hard that he could always look forward but yesterday he was a real threat.
    Robson looked very calm, won the ball gave the ball and it was a very good debut. For me, he looks backwards rather than forwards a bit too often but that will hopefully change with experience, but he helped Cattermole immensely.
    Finally a word for the older ones. Oviedo has, for me, been player of the season. Of all the ‘premier league’ players, he is the one with the most to lose as his country is at the world cup, but he puts himself about tries hard and has a bit of quality. I was delighted for him that he made the clearance off the line and actually had his name sang. O’Shea was superb, interceptions, headers, organising 2 kids next to him in a back 3 that was very brave (wonderful to see 2 kids on loan so committed to a club they will only be with for 6 months).
    Finally Cattermole was, finally, Cattermole. I wrote here some time ago that he either needed a proper rest or a permanent rest as his legs weren’t doing what his mind expected. Today, with Robson and Honeyman covering so much ground that he only had to patrol a limited amount of ground, he won tackles, made blocks, great passes (and also some awful ones but not costly) and generally lifted the crowd and the players around him. I am really pleased that the performances before Christmas will not be the ones remembered as his last for the club

  2. KenG January 21, 2018 at 8:46 pm #

    Jake Clarke-Salter the first hyphenated player? What about Jozy Effing-Altidore? A good day all-round and a marvellous change from the usual dross. A fine report does the game justice. At least ten days grace now before we confront reality again with our trip to St. Andrews.

    • John Mac January 21, 2018 at 9:01 pm #

      And Danny bloody Graham

  3. Phil D January 21, 2018 at 10:21 pm #

    Another entertaining report from Sixer. I was waiting in the cinema for an opera to start and my wife texted me the result. I was delighted even before the delightful music started.

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