Pete Sixsmith will be on his way tomorrow to watch his beloved rugby league. It rarely fails to put a smile on his face. We have seen, on a handful of occasions this season, how a good Sunderland performance can have the same effect. At most games, however, he witnesses a shambles of a team that would turn the man who is depressive into one who is suicidal. Brentford fans turned out in force and rightly enjoyed their day out (and how they must have loved Sixer’s Bees edition of his fabulous series The First Time Ever I Saw Your Team

Where on earth we, Sunderland, go from here should be anyone’s guess but isn’t – we’re bound for another taste of third division football unless something happens and quickly ….

It was a very pleasant afternoon at the Stadium of Light when we took our seats.

There was the presence of a strong winter sun putting a bit of warmth in the ageing bones of your correspondent and, with cap firmly planted on head, I sat hoping that the warmth of the sun, the warmth of the minute’s applause for Liam Miller and the warm memories of that stirring fightback last week might just get us going after 32 games of a season that could well be the worst in the 130 years that the club has been a member of the senior leagues in England.

Liam Miller. RIP

That warmth lasted all of three minutes as an impressive Brentford side carved us open twice and almost opened the scoring. In the 12th minute, Messrs O’Shea and Cattermole decided to give them a hand and left the ball for one another, allowing Kamohelo Mokotjo to nip in and crash the ball past Lee Camp to put the Bees one up. For the next 20 minutes, they played as if they were the new Barcelona, making us look like a team of Spanish waiters who had been dragooned into a game of beach football by Barca.

What would Basil Fawlty have done about our defensive frailties?

They pinged the ball around, moved into space, waltzed round our “defenders” and finished the game off on the half hour when Neil Maupay scored a delightful goal (if you were a Bees fan) after we had given the ball away, missed a tackle and failed to mark the aforementioned Maupay.

Game over. They missed a couple of other chances before half time as they destroyed our defence and strolled off at half time for coffee and cigars, anticipating an even greater stroll in the second half as our already tiring legs gave out.

We did do better in the second half, progressing from abysmal through wretched to hopeless but it wasn’t enough to drag us back into a game that, had we won it (ha,ha), would have given us a welcome boost and taken us to within three points of Reading and above Barnsley. That we didn’t is a cause for despair and giving up – which is what the support has done.

For most of the season the mood has been of quiet resignation with many thinking that we can get out of this albeit by the skin of our teeth. Support may have been lukewarm but it has never been downright hostile. It was today.

There was an intensity of booing and jeering, aimed at the players, the management, the chief executive and the Absentee Owner that does not augur well for the final 14 games – games that will decide for many whether they will continue to be Sunderland supporters in anything but name. The phrase “I used to go to Sunderland but I don’t bother any more” will be used the length and breadth of the North East should we drop into the Associate Members’ leagues.

Looking at the team, they are shot. Like a trenchful of soldiers in Flanders 100 years ago, the veterans have had enough of this madness and have (metaphorically) taken to the bottle, while the new recruits may have some enthusiasm but their lack of nous and experience counts against them. There are no wise and wily NCOs to drag them through the attacks from opponents who are better prepared, cleverer and have a plan. Our plan is a bit like Haig’s at the Somme; just charge at them and everything will be all right.

We have four groups of players at the club. There are the older players who are on their last decent contracts before retirement or a slide down the leagues. There are the loan players who are here from good clubs to gain experience and who must be on the phone to Messrs Hodgson, Klopp, Allardyce, Conte and Pulis pleading to be allowed to come home as a seat on the Under 23s bench is preferable to the misery they are being put through here.

We have young players making their way in the game and hoping to catch the eye of a bigger club where they can develop their game instead of having to perform in the febrile and poisonous atmosphere that exists at the Stadium of Light. And there is George Honeyman.

He was our best player by a mile. He ran hard, tried to open things up, helped out his colleagues and looks to be the only player we started with who will be in the team next season. Too young to retire, too old to catch the eye of the big clubs, he personifies our desperate situation in that we know he will give his all but his all is not good enough.

Of the others, here are some brief observations. The keeper is no worse than the two others we have signed this year but no better than Max Stryjek who was outstanding for the Under 23s the previous night.

The defending in the first half was lamentable. Poor John O’Shea has lost his legs and cannot play at this level. Tyias Browning has regressed as the season has progressed and now seems unwilling to do anything positive when he has the ball at his feet. He did make one outstanding tackle to retrieve a situation entirely of his own making but his replacement at half time by Adam Matthews was no great surprise.  Jake Clarke-Salter is not a left back and was cruelly exposed in the first half. He looked better in the second when he moved across to the middle. And Billy Jones…well, I fail to see how he gets into the team before  Matthews. His booking in the first half was an embarrassment to him, his manager and the club.

The midfield never had any control over the game with Lee Cattermole turning in a display almost as embarrassing as that of Drayhorse Billy. He is another one who needs to be left out. He brings nothing but bad temper to the team and I can’t imagine that Ethan Robson will learn anything from him that is remotely positive. Poor Ethan had a stinker and the memory of his debut against Hull is fading fast.

Is this the same Catts who promised to put on a show for the fans vs Brentford?

McGeady could have been sent off in the second half for a nasty tackle and missed a couple of chances. Williams, when he came on, buzzed about a lot but seems strangely reluctant to shoot. He had two good chances to drill the ball in to the net but looked to give it to someone else.

Asoro gave us a bit of hope in the second half but Brentford had done their homework on him and had him double marked, while Fletcher was ineffectual and certainly should have been red carded for a nasty tackle on Bjelland.

Did we do our research on Brentford? It looked as if the players were surprised at their movement, how they passed the ball and the positions they took up. Were they told that this is the kind of team they are or did they forget it?

Chris Coleman sounded a broken man on the radio. He has just moved his young family up here to take over a club that is in serious trouble of sliding through the leagues due to the stupidity of various managers, chief executives and players and the current inertia of an owner who has completely lost interest and who will probably never be seen at the Stadium again.

Our executioners?

I hope it’s a rented house Coleman has taken; I would suggest a short lease. It’s just mugs like us who take the lifetime’s option and find it almost impossible to get out of our deal. But more and more are trying.

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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.

13 Responses to “Sixer’s Brentford Soapbox: warmth from sunshine, warmth for Liam Miller, otherwise chilly” Subscribe

  1. Mick Goulding February 18, 2018 at 3:17 am #

    It’s become difficult to say which is worst at the moment – our defence, attack, or midfield? They’re all useless. The match day experience has become one of looking for anything (ANYTHING) to take your mind off the football. Home games especially have become so depressing it’s difficult to muster the energy to even bother trying to describe them.
    With players as bad as this, it’s probably unfair to blame the manager for anything. But confidence and motivation are supposed to stem from him, and they’re seriously missing. It might sound sacrilegious to ask it, but has Coleman really achieved anything? Maybe his task was too difficult for anybody, but i really do wonder what he thought he was doing accepting this job? If he thought he could work a miracle and turn things around, then he’s failed miserably. If he knew all along that there’d be no resources, and it’s a long-term rebuilding job from League One, then he’s jeopardising his entire career. That career wasn’t actually that great prior to the Wales job, and it may be completely shot now – so bad is the shambles that he’s currently in charge of.

    • Dave February 18, 2018 at 4:06 pm #

      Can I add to your what is worse question – the crowd.
      Yesterday was embarrassing all round. You’re not fit to wear the shirt after 20 minutes. Group of drunks near me amusing themselves by adapting the Rowell song to abuse all the current 11, worst of all, booing young Fletcher off when subbed in the second half. He wasn’t good but he is hardly likely to be better next time. Sixer wonders why Williams wouldn’t shoot but I am amazed anyone is brave enough to shoot in front of these idiots when they get abused if the shot is poor.
      We have had teams that were relatively worse than this one (at least for the division they were in) including the 15 point season where we won the very last home game and no other, but the players weren’t scared of playing in front of morons.
      The only positive I can see about relegation is that only genuine fans will be left The booing morons and the people who think that leaving the moment we go 2 behind is what a football supporter does will hopefully do one and the team will actually be supported at home.

      • Dave February 18, 2018 at 4:09 pm #

        And also the goalie who I think is probably the worst of the 3. Any goalkeeper of any ability would have saved the first that went under his arm at no great pace. We had survived (probably undeservedly) a terrible first 10 minutes and then the goalie throws one in. Killer for a side lacking confidence and knowing that from that moment on there would be nothing but abuse from the stands.

      • Wrinkly Pete February 21, 2018 at 6:21 pm #

        I agree with you, of course. I was at the game and even if you felt the first half was bad and booed, would you not conversely applaud the hugely improved second half and the effort shown? The answer, naturally, is that these people, so perfectly described by you, belong in the “I’ll do what I like” category.

  2. Drummer February 18, 2018 at 5:56 am #

    Does the relegation clause come into effect again when they drop into League One ? I damn well hope so ! Nothing for Rodwell to worry his empty little head about of course.

  3. Ifos February 18, 2018 at 8:28 am #

    The introduction to Sixer’s piece wonders if ‘something can happen and quickly’. What, precisely, can happen? If we sack the manager who else would come at this point? Or if new owners come, what can they do? The opportunity for new players has come and gone and as for a new manager see my first point. When the miracle happened under Poyet there was a very different atmosphere and a different standard of player. We will be going down, who can see anything else happening?
    My concern is what happens then. Less income, when we’re already losing 3 million a month, that situation is simply untenable. So, does short abandon the club completely and administration looms, or does he start selling what few assets we have left? And I don’t mean players. How much would the land between Seaburn and Whitburn bring in from a property developer? Can a stadium like the SOL be justified for a 3rd tier team? What exactly are the plans for the future? In fact, are there any plans at all?

    • Drummer February 18, 2018 at 10:00 am #

      You’ve identified my worries . If in administration, to avoid liquidation ,saleable assets will go . The Whitburn training site was controversial when built ,and needed a number of planning applications before it got the go ahead . I’m sure there’s many out there who would like to see it redeveloped.

  4. John Hickson February 18, 2018 at 8:31 am #

    Each week I read the Sixer report and find this is the only report I read. Not only am I one of the ‘used to go to the SOL’ brigade, but I have realised I am also a ‘used to read all the reports in the papers/online’ person. Apart from a slip last week when I watched the goals (oh the defending!!!!!) I have stopped watching EFL. It is with the greatest sadness that SAFC have brought me down to this level and total lack of interest. The only bright side I have at the moment is I remember the old 3rd division and it was a fabulous year followed by another! Maybe there is a little hope left for this season but if not, well, maybe L1 will not be so bad (ok, I accept I am clutching at straws and the impact of going down these days will be disastrous, but please, let me have a quiet moment without being a realist!). Come on SAFC get a grip and pull yourselves together. Can’t wait to say, ‘yes, I go to the games and I love it’.

  5. DJ February 18, 2018 at 8:33 am #

    Another excellent article from Sixer that sadly very accurately sums up our sorry plight.

    I can’t see a way back from here. We might pick up a few draws on our travels but playing at home, as Coleman alluded to post match yesterday, is too much for some of our players.

    Several looked like they wished they were anywhere but the sol, they didn’t want the ball, they didn’t want to take any responsibility, they just don’t want to be at Sunderland.

  6. Eric012 February 18, 2018 at 9:33 am #

    I’ve been indulging myself by reading a few chapters of Tales From The Red And Whites Vol II (kindly sent to me by M Salut as a GTS prize) and the following words leap out from every chapter – pride, commitment, passion, togetherness, honesty, skill – as the players of yesteryear recount their tales. Most, if not all, of these words will be totally alien to the bunch of pathetic, weak willed imposters that masquerade as footballers at our beloved club. Get rid of them all asap, and if it means starting again in League 1, 2 or even lower then so be it.

  7. Mike Sixsmith February 18, 2018 at 9:39 am #

    I had a choice for a Christmas present. Either a season ticket for the Leeds Rhinos(featuring a 150 mike round trip every two weeks) or a season ticket for the rest of the season at Sunderland sitting near Sixsmith Major.
    Major and minor will be going to Headingley this year just in case you were wondering what I chose.
    It’s just all very sad at the SOL.

  8. vince February 18, 2018 at 6:28 pm #

    We were tanned first half no doubt about it,but still had two decent chances falling to Asoro and Honeyman,the fact that we scored neither spelled our doom.
    Honeyman had the best chance and for all his graft he lacks that quality we really need to save us.
    We have been surviving on loan players for a long time now and have finally ran out of road,not even the most unhappy of players want to be here.
    Just watched Rochdale play with huge heart against Spurs in the FA cup,if we think we are in for an easy ride next season in a lower league ,I’d say we would be deluded. Teams will play their socks off against us too and with this lot playing(no doubt minus Asoro) who would bet on us surviving in that league either,

    • Drummer February 19, 2018 at 6:33 am #

      This squad will be embarrassed next season . Horrible thought is ,that it will be even weaker than this season . I won’t blame Coleman in the slightest if he jumps to the first reasonable offer he recieves . We are the worst run club in English ‘ professional ‘ football.

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