Quick Kicks: Thoughts And Reaction From Stoke City 2-0 Sunderland

Scott Heavey

It was deja vu for Sunderland on the road once again, as a red card stunted any hope of building on positive home results.

What The Gaffer Said

Gus Poyet was able to give out his now well-practiced 'didn't we do wonderfully with less players' speech once again.

I thought that we were much better, in terms of passing the ball and trying to create problems.

The team that I have been wanting to see were there and then there was the sending off; it is difficult to accept.

There are lots of opinions already on the sending off, it's national news. I don't understand it to be honest with you.

I just want to have a normal game away from home and be able to compete and get points on the board.

I feel bad for the fans; they travel so far to back their team, believing in what we are doing and then they find themselves watching a team of 10 against 11.

Valentin [Roberge] wasn't in the squad last week because he was injured, today he was on the bench and then we called upon him after 40 minutes.

He showed that he was ready today and if he plays like he did when he came on he will be a very important player for us. It's a great credit to him for taking the opportunity to show us what he's capable of doing.

Before Stoke scored, [Steven] Fletcher had a massive chance to put us in front, one of the best we've created so far. When you pass the ball and you believe in the game you are playing and make it difficult for the opposition, you will create more chances.

Even with 10 men there were spells where we were dominating the game, I'm very proud of the players.

Maybe we just need that extra bit of luck in games - a lucky goal or something to go in our favour - and the sooner the better so we can win games.

It's important that we keep working on things and try to improve as a whole squad.

I'm not sure I agree that we were 'much better' than we have been, though there were a couple of very good chances created before Stoke scored.

To be fair to Poyet, he just exudes positivity and it's infectious. He deserves a little of the luck he has his fingers crossed for. We all do.

THE Issue

I suppose we have to get this one out of the way.

We have seen some lunacy from officials in our time following this club, haven't we. Liverpool scoring from a Sunderland free kick - before it had been taken. Michael Turner given a four match ban for a header. Jozy Altidore having a goal disallowed for being fouled...

I can honestly say, though, that hand on heart I've never been left more broken by a decision in my time than the one Kevin Friend made to send off Wes Brown in this one.

Punishing that tackle with a free kick would have been a travesty. Punishing it with a free kick and a yellow card an absolute outrage and unforgivable crime against football, never mind a red card. No one should be punishing it at all. In fact, the FA should be committing as many resources as they can spare to working on somehow embalming it and preserving it for future generations to have the opportunity to witness the perfectly executed footballing tackle.

There is no question that it had a massive impact on the game and seriously diminished one team's chances of getting something from it. We'll probably get an apology though. YAY! All hail the wonderful apology. That'll make everything better...

It's a point of note that it was the 14th red card that Kevin Friend has brandished in his 83 Premier League games to date. 5 of them have been against Sunderland. If it is rescinded, it won't be the first. Whether you are a conspiracy theorist or not, and I'm not, that record demands attention.

Valuable Valentin?

It was interesting to hear Poyet lavish praise upon Valentin Roberge in the aftermath of this one. The Frenchman's name has been used by some as evidence for the failure of Roberto De Fanti this summer, but it very much sounds like he has a fan in Poyet.

Of all the defenders available who aren't called Wes Brown, Roberge is the one you feel is best suited to playing from the back. He is definitely one to persist with.

Opportunity Gone, Nothing Learned

Just like with the last away game at Hull, this fixture was an opportunity to kick on which was snatched away before it was ever really there. What is more annoying is that we didn't actually learn anything from it.

We still don't know if we do it away from home under Poyet. We don't know how we grow into games, or keep the ball against tiring legs, or what options we have from the bench to influence the latter stages of away games, or plenty other things.

As long as we are getting men sent off - fairly or unfairly - we can't learn anything or draw conclusions. Without conclusions there can be no solutions. Without solutions there can be no development. Without development there can be no lasting fixes.

It feels like we are getting somewhere with the home form, but away from home it all still remains a total and wholly frustrating mystery.

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