What The Gaffer Said
We ask them to maintain an organisation and style of play and I think we did that during the game and put the opposition under pressure. I think the situation is simple – we were probably better than them in every aspect of the game except the final score. That hurts a lot, but we are not going to give up.
I was disappointed with the first goal. We talked about it, but at the end of the day we didn’t cope with the situation. The second goal was similar. It’s a second ball and a deflected shot. It was a typical game of a team towards the bottom – we were the better side, passed the ball better, had more shots and then a deflected goal goes in.
Today the message is we are defending the football club to the best of our ability, starting from me to the last person in that dressing room. We gave everything possible; we tried our best but couldn’t win. The only thing to do is keep doing it until the end of the season. We must keep battling. We must believe and it’s my job to make sure everybody does that.
Seems Gus is doing his level best to remain positive. But even he must be pulling his hair out. He's been searching for answers and no matter what he tries nothing seems to come off. The players put a shift in generally tonight, and we were the better side I thought. But, we still weren't great.
The fact is we failed to defend properly, and failed to take a number of clear cut chances. There were many as five clear opportunities to score. Take one more of those and we get a result. They have to keep believing, but nobody could blame the most ardent supporter for giving up.
We've seen enough to know.
More Questions Than Answers Once More
It's really tough to know what to say about this one. We've tried the 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, a 4-4-2 variant and different incarnations of 5-3-2 up to now. In a way, you have to give Gus Poyet some credit. He's trying to get the best out of the players at his disposal. Now before some clownshoe starts twisting in the comments, I'm not absolving him of all the blame. He isn't getting results, so he will be asked questions and rightly so. That's the crux of the matter. The issue also, when we try something different, is that once we have to make changes when we're inevitably chasing the game it can sometimes make things tougher.
As we saw tonight, individual quality from Adam Johnson got us back into the game. But I feel once we start making substitutions when we're chasing the game, that's all we can really rely on. Again, we have nowhere near enough quality for this to be regularly 'impactual'.
The bottom line is that no matter how Gus deploys the players who are at his disposal, they are just nowhere near good enough. He's tried everything he possibly can to get results. I know some will say he should pick a consistent system and side, but these players so often under perform that he can't possibly stick with them. This has been our problem for three years now.
I commend Gus for trying, but maybe he just needs to realize we're absolutely balls and go back to pragmatism? I wouldn't. He might as well keep tinkering. He might stumble across something that actually works, then the Archbishop of Canterbury will come twerking through my living room.
Adam Johnson. Discuss...
Now the big shock was that Adam Johnson, having changed the game against Liverpool on Wednesday night, remained on the bench for this massive game. Personally, I would have started him in place of Wickham and played two behind Borini. But I can sort of see why Gus didn't play him too. As I mentioned earlier, when we make changes the only way they can be effective is when an individual does something a bit special. I felt AJ was very much deployed in a 'super sub' role.
Could he have made an impact from the start? Possibly. But you have to remember that this is a guy who has been often abject and struggled to find form in red and white. He had a great six weeks, then dipped a little again. Could Gus rely on him to deliver from the start? I'd like to have seen him given the opportunity, personally. I think we're at the stage where we need to be playing all of our possible threats in every game. Johnson is certainly one of them. I just feel people aiming vitriol at Gus for this decision may have short memories. The lad had been pants far too often to forget.
However, on this occasion it could have been a key decision that he'll look back on with regret.
We Need A Miracle
Never mind folks. We've only got Tottenham, Everton and Chelsea next. Chin up and all that...
Seriously though, tonight's defeat followed by those fixtures could see us well adrift by the time we come to face Cardiff at home at the end of the month. It might be a case of staving off the inevitable than fighting for our lives. It's a real shame and when we come to look back on the end of the season and dissect it, the size of the errors will call for one of those Channel 4 type mega whale autopsy programs. The innards of a dismembered and disembowelled sea mammal may actually be a more appealing prospect than the next month as a Sunderland supporter.
It would be typical Sunderland to get through to the Cardiff game still in touch after some fine performances, only for Frazier Campbell to have a field day and destroy it all again. So yeah, I'll go for that. Five points from the next three, then the inevitable anal prolapse at home against the Welshmen. Enjoy it.