Quick Kicks: Thoughts and Reaction from Sunderland 1-3 Chelsea

Matthew Lewis

Played well blah blah blah. Individual errors yadda yadda yadda. Deserved something from the game but got nowt etc etc etc. Join us, if you dare, as we delve a little deeper into Sunderland's latest hard-luck story.

What The Gaffer Said

Martin O'Neill's spirit appeared undiminished following this latest Groundhog Day.

It was a fantastic effort by the team and I think that effort was appreciated by the crowd.

I thought we should have got something out of the game.

We put our heart and soul into it and the penalty kick just before half-time was a major setback for us.

Their third goal just after half-time made it a real struggle for us to get back in the game, but we managed to do just that.

[Adam] Johnson's goal gave us renewed hope and the fans got behind us.

It was a real battle to the end.

We hit the bar near the end and had a few balls go across the six yard box just waiting to be put in the back of the net.

The players are very disappointed; there's still plenty of fight in the dressing room.

Have to feel that O'Neill is bang on the money highlighting the penalty as the key moment in the game. Until that point, we were very much still in it. But when Chelsea doubled their lead mere seconds before the half time whistle, it was over as a contest.

Nice to see him a little upbeat, however, ahead of what is a huge game on Tuesday.

Time To Go The Whole Hog

If I had any money, I'd definitely have lumped the whole lot of it on Fernando Torres to score here. It was as easy to predict as winter rain.

It is something that we have graciously been doing for decades now, but given the PR-savy nature of modern football, I think it is time we went the whole hog. Just register Sunderland AFC as an official charity, supporting out of form and feeling low footballers and beleaguered managers everywhere.

Bardsley - Is There Anything He Can Do?

Well, yes, apparently. He can flap his arms around like a boss blaming others when he has made a howler.

For the opening goal he gave the ball away incredibly cheaply by deciding to charge in-field into a wall of blue shirts, but it was someone else's fault. The arms came out, the chest puffed out, and he made his displeasure at his team mates for... um, something... very clear.

To his credit, he still managed to get himself back in position to defend the cross, though that just made his decision to then not actually defend it all a real puzzle.

Just as the second half was warming up you were probably wondering if there was anything he actually can do. Always obliging - he allowed us to cross 'control a football under no pressure' off the list.

What an absolutely wretched performance.

Stupider Still...

I know it is the season for magic and miracles and other festive stuff, but the fact that someone managed to eclipse Phil Bardsley's stupidity for the first goal was absolutely astonishing. Yet that is the feat that Seb Larsson achieved just before the break.

His foul of Ramires - who was going absolutely no where but harmlessly out of play - achieved new levels of idiocy.

Frankly, we are generally getting to the stage with Seb Larsson where we have to start asking what he is doing to merit a place in the team. Craig Gardner and Adam Johnson seem to have taken over set-piece duties and in terms of football that has always been the Swede's raison d'etre.

Not Even Giving Ourselves A Chance

The manager will probably get the blame for 'tactics' as per usual, but it would be little more than scapegoating. We never actually got a chance to find out whether O'Neill's tactics or team selections work these days because individuals don't let us.

In the last four games alone, glaring and inexplicable mistakes at crucial times from Simon Mignolet, Matthew Kilgallon, Phil Bardsley, and Seb Larsson have cost us goals and points. That isn't the manager's fault, no matter how convenient it would be to neatly package all of the clubs problems with one easily removable man.

Positives? Do They Even Matter?

Annoyingly, there were plenty of positives. James McClean had a splendid afternoon. He attacked with the kind of purpose we haven't seem from him for a while and absolutely worked his socks off. The few boos he received from the home fans were absolutely shameful and if those fans ever returned to the Stadium of Light it would be far too soon.

Adam Johnson unquestionably had his finest game in a Sunderland shirt too, and Connor Wickham and Stephane Sessegnon also did well. The way in which the side battled on and showed great character as the game wore on was hugely admirable. There was some very decent stuff played by Sunderland at times.

But the bottom line here is that you can have as many positives as you want but as long as you are gifting away points they won't count for anything. The opposition did not score a single goal without the assistance of an appalling Sunderland mistake. As long as that continues, all the positives in the world aren't going to win you football matches.

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