Quick(ish) Kick: Reaction From Sunderland 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur

Chris Brunskill

This is the feature in which we usually sift through a defeat, mix metaphors, and scratch around for some positives. This week, however, there is just one real familiar talking point.

What The Gaffer Said

On that performance we would not get enough points to stay up. On a normal day Spurs could have won 5-1. Then it would be even worse. The problem is that we are making too many mistakes. There needs to be a moment when we say: 'That is it,' and there are no more excuses or bad luck. That's where we are hurting at the moment.

It is not about individuals not getting the message, it is the group. If it was one player it would be easy for me, because you drop him. It is the group that need to get it, the players altogether because they have to learn if one person makes a mistake their team-mates need to react.

Now, I think a line has been drawn. Does the season start here? If it doesn't start today we have got a massive problem. Playing that way doesn't save you, I promise you. All the teams who have played like that in the last 10 years have gone down.

I pick the team but I always say that we need to do it altogether. I have responsibility which is why I am here, but the players have responsibilities too.

And, as if by magic... there we have it. Gus Poyet has arrived at the same old conclusions that his predecessors did.

It's becoming a crushingly familiar cycle. A new manager realises that he has a bunch of institutionalised losers to work with and in the end they get him the sack.

A new manager comes in, takes a look at the names on paper and thinks to himself 'yeah, plenty to work with here', and they man up to impress for a couple of games. In the fullness of time, however, they revert to type, produce performances like this one, and the new manager cracks before publicly questioning their quality.

Martin O'Neill did it, Paolo Di Canio did it, and now Gus Poyet has done it. It's not a coincidence.

There is just no nastiness with this squad. No killer instinct or desire to assert themselves. They seem happy to go through the motions. With the amount of shirt-swapping going on these days they seem just happy to be here.

It's true that we are on a quite staggering run of incredible refereeing decisions going against us and Saturday was no different. But shouldn't that sense of injustice rouse them into action just a little? Shouldn't it make them angry and nourish their determination to claw back the points? It certainly should.

The most irritating thing about it is how predictable the whole thing is. Repetition does that, I guess.

Us fans have known for months. You can say what you want about Paolo Di Canio, and especially question the wisdom of going quite so public with his views on the current squad as he did, but he had them well figured-out. There were very few not nodding along with just about every word of his now notorious rants.

The players moaned, of course, either privately or in public, such as the interview Titus Bramble gave to the Telegraph in which he tried to paint the players as oppressed warriors, prevented from winning the battle because the poor little lambs didn't like their nasty General.

We still get that interview shoved in our faces from time-to-time. After every win, really, so not often enough. I say 'every' win, but I probably mean 'both'. Bit different. Those that do it are strangely quiet after any of the defeats though. Apparently, their unwavering expertise in our club, which stretches to the point of lecturing its own supporters at times, doesn't stretch that far.

Let's just hope that, having seen for himself the crippling mental fragility of this squad, Gus Poyet is the man with the answer.

Right now, there is a general feeling abound that the end of the road is here for the majority of these players. A bit like when all parties have accepted a marriage is over and are just waiting for the legalities of the divorce to be done.

In the meantime, I suppose the best we can hope for is they don't pull the whole family home down around us.

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