What The Gaffer Said
I won't be watching this game again. The game was boring, very boring and it was difficult to watch. I don't want to analyse it.
No, nor us Gus. We'll similarly keep it brief.
Still Searching For The Balance
Although the change in philosophy under Gus Poyet has been striking, this game provided a big reminder of how much work there is to be done until it truly takes hold.
With possession football, the trick is finding that balance between keeping it and creating. Sunderland had a staggering 75% of the possession in this game, but that was mainly due to the amount of times good crossing positions were worked and outright declined.
For me, neither of Sunderland's front line strikers are doing enough to make things happen for themselves, but it also must be tough to repeatedly make runs in the box when a cross should arrive, only to see a five-yard backwards pass played instead.
Ki Sung-Yueng is usually the man who provides that incision and attacking thrust at the right time, so his absence was obviously felt. But it's about decisions and conviction more than anything else and in this one neither were anywhere near being up to scratch.
From a defensive point of view, you couldn't really learn anything about Santiago Vergini in this one. He wasn't troubled in the least, and neither would you expect him to be.
It was obvious, however, just why he is a player that Poyet likes so much. In possession he is incredibly comfortable. He passes it cleanly and generally accurately with either foot and is happy to step forward in spells of possession and become an extra midfield player.
I couldn't possibly tell you what he'll do here based on that performance, but it's pretty obvious why he is here.
All About The Result
Quick question before here: Who can remember, or heard the tale about, how well Sunderland played against Notts County or Reading in the early rounds of the 1973 cup run? I know I haven't. Here is another one: As we scramble for League Cup final tickets, who could care less about how awful we were against MK Dons this season? Again, I know I couldn't.
There is a wider picture, of course, but cup football is just about winning, pure and simple. Just keep getting your name in that hat. That's what we did, without taxing the legs of our most important players, and without any real drama. Who cares about the manner?