Everton Game Postponed - Sam Handed Derby Boost?
Due to Everton's involvement in the FA cup sixth round it has been announced that our game against the Toffees on Sunday, March 12th has been postponed and will be arranged at a later date.
The amount of tape and horse plop in the way of re-arranging the game is enough to give you a headache - thankfully, James Hunter of the Chronicle has explained perfectly the situation that fixture-planners find themselves in following the postponement on the match:
Sunderland’s game against Everton will be rescheduled for a midweek date, but the fixture planners have yet to announce when the match will be played - and their options are limited by the Champions League schedule, with UEFA rules preventing Premier League games being played on the same evening as European games.
The Premier League have earmarked two potential midweeks - after matchweek 34 and 37 - to play any rearranged games.
Assuming the game is played in one of those slots, it would see Sunderland face Everton either a few days after the Black Cats’ vital relegation clash at Norwich City on April 16, or in the final week of the season between their home game against Chelsea on May 7 and their trip to Watford on May 15.
There is also a free midweek after the Tyne-Wear derby next month but the game cannot be played that week because it would mean Sunderland would go on to play three home games in a row while Everton would go on to play three away games in a row, and Premier League rules forbid a run of more than two successive home or away games.
Blimey. Either way, it's fairly unfortunate for Sam Allardyce. The last thing we want is fixture congestion, particularly towards the end of the season. That said, it does mean we'll potentially have two weeks to prepare for the derby game at Newcastle towards the end of the month.
You might remember that last week it was rumoured that Sunderland were one of a number of clubs interested in Gent forward Laurent Depoitre, and club president Ivan De Witte has acknowledged that his club are receiving enquiries for the player on a weekly basis.
We are getting about two or three [phone calls a week], although this is not direct. This is usually going through the media of agencies, and bringing us interest of one or two clubs.
We are very aware of the fact that there is a lot of interest for Laurent Depoitre.
So far we have succeeded to keep other players, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to keep Laurent financially.
But I have a feeling he is also very motivated. He is 27 years old and [might want] to take the bigger opportunity to play in a bigger championship.
Depoitre could well be a late bloomer - at the age of twenty-seven it does seem a bit odd that it has taken until now for him to receive genuine interest from clubs playing at a higher level.
Mannone Desperate For Clean Sheets
Goalkeepers are rather unique in that ultimately they are judged on the amount of goals they concede and the amount of clean sheets that they keep, so it should come as no surprise that current Sunderland number one Vito Mannone is growing frustrated at his inability to stop the goals flying into his net.
Mannone is keen to correct that, starting this weekend, and told the Evening Chronicle:
We’re desperately trying to get one [a clean sheet], but we’re finding it tough to get it. I’m making a few saves to keep us in the games.
But it’s the work of the whole team, from the strikers through to me. All eleven players have to be concentrated on not giving cheap goals away. At the end of the day, the points are the main thing.
The manager wants the basics right, the clean sheets first and then build from there.