What The Gaffer Said
We were the team who were going for the win from the first minute, we didn’t have a negative plan we just wanted to win the game. For a moment there was a feeling that a goal was coming, as it was all Sunderland, but then I’m not sure what happened – maybe tired legs – but the game became stretched and a lot more open. Overall, I can tell you that we tried our best. Crystal Palace came here and they made it very difficult for us. We were missing that bit of quality and I know we keep saying this, but if we keep working hard it will come.
We need to take the formula we used today and keep going, make it difficult for teams and take every game as it comes. You did think a goal was coming, that’s how it felt. There were one or two chances and it just didn’t happen. [Fabio] Borini was inches away. We showed everybody that we’re up for the fight and we care a lot for the football club.
The support was magnificent and the fans stuck with the players; it was a real help to them. We need to make sure we stick together whatever the result is; at the end of the day we are all in this together. After a result like we’ve had today, where we deserved to win but didn’t, we need to go into our next game and get something from there to make this point a good one.
Indirect dig at the way Palace set up here, but I can't believe for one minute that Gus was the only person on the planet who didn't expect Pulis to set out for a draw primarily. I'm not also not sure that the fans are supposed to be particularly impressed that the players tried to win the game. But, I'm not about to start needlessly having a pop at the manager here, it's clear from these words that he's as frustrated as the rest of us.
Lack Of Cutting Edge A Real Concern
I'm not trying to be Captain Obvious here, but the lack of creativity is a real concern. It's frustrating that since Mr. Bruce replaced Henderson, Malbranque and Zenden with Gardner, Vaughan and Larsson, we're still at the point where we have very little creativity or quality from the middle of the park.
The employment of three central midfielders has solved some previous issues of being overran in the centre of the park, and the capture of Ki has probably kept us from a February relegation this year, but our lack of quality and defence opening capabilities are preventing us from beating some very ordinary teams. at The Stadium Of Light. We can play possession football 'til the cows come home but unless people start taking risks and find some end product to their game, then we'll pass our way down to The Championship. See Wigan.
Borini The Main Man
I, like you, am trying to get my head around the fact that Fabio Borini was relocated back to outer forward role for this game. The logical theory behind this would be that he'd be too isolated as a striker with these players behind him and that the fact he can get himself into scoring positions from out wide is an irreplaceable quality in a side this incompetent in attack.
The obvious flaw in that theory is that as none of our centre forwards seem capable enough to lead the line effectively enough, it seems crazy not to have our best striker spearhead the attack. Borini's goal at Wembley was clinical centre forward play - akin to a piece of Michael Owen's brilliant improvisation in his Liverpool prime. I find it increasingly hard to believe that Giacherrini or Scocco could be as ineffective on the left as Fletcher and Altidore are up front. The former's performance on Saturday was a disgrace.
An alternative to that would be a shift in formation, perhaps more similar to the one adopted at Wembley with Colback on the left, possibly covering for Craig Gardner to replicate that advanced role he played against Southampton in the cup. He played well and scored on that occasion, as he frequently did in a similar role for Birmingham. Am I seriously making a case for Craig Gardner here? Desperate times/measures etc. Don't bite my head off, I'm just floating ideas around.
Try Not To Panic Just Yet
As mentioned previously, a goalless draw was what around 90% of people I know predicted for Saturday. The result, and fact we failed to break a defensive team down, should't really surprise anyone and it hasn't exposed anything new to us. The West Brom result was a real kick in the nuts, but it's proof that unexpected wins happen and there'll be many "twists and turns" before the season ends.
In theory, IN THEORY, Norwich away is the ideal game us. They will be expected to dictate and attack and will leave gaps as a result. The wins at Fulham and Newcastle showed us that we can cope with this scenario wholly better than the one we faced on Saturday.
I also harbour some hope that both Cardiff and West Brom will head to Wearside with the intentions of winning the game, rather than placing ten men behind the ball. How does that saying go? It's the hope I can't stand...