Moyes, "Safe For Now" - Says Who?
It's being widely reported in the media this afternoon that David Moyes is under no immediate danger of losing his job at Sunderland.
It's in the Mirror, on TalkSport, in Sporting Life, even the Belfast Telegraph - that doyen of all things Sunderland-news. They all have two things in common - they all say the same thing, and they've all come from the same source - news agency, the Press Association, aka that thing they all use to fill gaps.
The press release, or whatever they term it, basically just says that despite being the new bookmaker's favourite for the sack, Moyes is in no immediate danger of losing his job.
Who knows what the actual origin is. Probably just a best guess or something a source at the club has spread. Or worse, a ruse to manipulate the betting markets.
Moyes is currently 11/10 to be the next boss sacked, with Middlesbrough manager, Aitor Karanka, second favourite at 9/2. See if those prices move in the next few hours. Now might even be a good time to stick a bet on if they do, because it feels like things are still likely to get worse for Moyes before they get better.
Monday's Excuse Roundup
Another weekend, another defeat. Eight games without a win, a desperately threadbare squad ravaged by injuries, and a manager favourite to be the next one sacked in the Premier League. Things are looking bleak and people are beginning to panic.
But, the message from within the club remains consistent – stick with us. If it's becoming sound-bitey, it's probably because we've heard it all before.
Here’s a roundup of the latest assessment of the situation from those closest to it:
John O'Shea: "Sunderland Must Stop Shooting Themselves In The Foot"
O'Shea reckons Sunderland must stop “shooting themselves in the foot” and are a squad ravaged by “injuries which have gone against us recently”. In fact O’Shea, when pressed, reckons the state of the sick-room is as bad as he can recall in his time at the club.
But, he makes a killer point, which was starkly evident against Stoke: as a unit Sunderland are not clearing their lines quickly enough, not closing men down, not winning second balls, not stopping crosses and not getting a foot in when required. O’Shea said:
We have to give ourselves the best chance as a unit, the team, keeping a clean sheet and fighting better for the second balls and winning those second balls.
Reminiscent of Sam Allardyce’s mantra from when he took over, O’Shea called for a return to the strategy which ultimately worked well in getting us out of trouble last season - grinding out results:
Ultimately, we know what has got us out of those positions, grinding that clean sheet out away from home knowing you will create chances…..Clean sheets are what has kept us in the league over the last couple of seasons.
Technically he’s only half correct though. It was indeed the clean sheet which kept Gus Poyet’s team in the Premier League, but not necessarily Sam Allardyce's.
In 2014-15, Sunderland kept thirteen clean sheets and the season before managed eleven. Indeed in the last four seasons, all of which have involved a desperate relegation battle, we have averaged 10 clean sheets.
Last season, Sam Allardyce’s outfit actually only managed seven clean sheets, with four of those coming in the last six games of the season.
So far, of course, we have only kept two – against the powerhouses of Hartlepool and Shrewsbury. So they don’t count.
Wahbi Khazri: This Team Is Not Fit For The Fans
Man of the Match on Saturday, admittedly from a bad bunch, Wahbi Khazri has acknowledged that the team is falling way short of the supporters who follow it and put up with so few victories to cheer every season:
Since I came to Sunderland last season, the fans have been amazing every game.
The team is not at the same level as the fans and we need the team to work to be the same as the fans.
Indeed the Sunderland fans who travelled to Stoke in numbers and supported the players vociferously throughout the game, especially in the second half with the match already beyond their team, have come in for praise from a number of sources.
Moyes On The Front Foot
David Moyes continues his charm offensive and has adopted a new tactic of hoping if he fires enough bullets one will hit the target. It's a sort of blanket approach of trying to be all things to all men following early criticism of his prosaic, moribund style.
Indeed, Moyes believes the support at Stoke demonstrates that the fans remain firmly behind the team and management:
The supporters are sticking with the club and the players.
He may well have also taken the sound of his name being audible in a few rounds of song, as evidence of support for him personally. How long for is another question.
Continuing his scattergun approach to weekly post-match wakes, Moyes latest rallying cry declares that every game is now a cup final:
We are nearly in a must-win situation from every match we go into – there’s nearly an individual sort of cup final we have to try to win from now until the end of season.
So, thirty one ‘sort of’ cup finals between now and May. Talk about putting yourself under pressure. Is anyone excited yet?
Speaking of which, is anyone else starting to see a resemblance between Moyes and Terry Butcher? Everything that could do wrong, did go wrong during Butcher's four-month stint in charge during the 1993-94 season; and his team played in a fashion completely devoid of identify or purpose too.
Terry Butcher, one of the worst Sunderland managers in living memory lasted until November before being sacked. Just saying.
A*seWipe of the day
Yep, 'Swipe of the day is a special section devoted to one individual who deserves special praise for publishing a load of rot. Today - Lee Ryder of the Evening Chronicle and his legion of twitter followers.
Clearly a reference to them infernal clowns who are scaring school children on a daily basis, Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle has been telling the Evening Chronicle's token jester, Ryder, that he gets followed around regularly:
Even when you are walking down the street everybody is fully behind you!
Alarmed by this revelation, Lee took to twitter to exclaim his horror with some exclamatory CAPITAL letters - "IN THE STREET"!
Being serious for a moment though, some bloke called Paul was sure that this is one of the things that makes Newcastle special:
Yep, that's precisely what separates Newcastle from other clubs - some clowns following players around in the street. And the reason so many big name players have failed to make a mark on Tyneside in recent years - they were all dead shy.