A Great Time to Catch Middlesbrough
Even by their own fan’s admission, Middlesbrough looked knackered by the seventy minute mark in their game on Saturday. In fact they were puffing as half time approached, but the Premier League is an unforgiving place and waits for no man to catch his breath. Welcome to the big time Boro boys and girls.
Certainly Stoke’s ability to keep a hold of the football hurt Middlesbrough as the game wore on, but Karanka’s side held on for a creditable home draw against last season’s top-ten Mark Hughes side.
Food for thought for David Moyes this week then. He knows his players are, by and large, fit. I think we’ve seen enough to know this isn’t going to be a season start like the last one which saw Sunderland failing to keep pace with their opponents and wheezing their way to dismal defeats.
But, possession is not a trait that we’re blessed with, so matching Stoke’s tactic may be a tad more taxing for us. Just 23% possession against Manchester City tells its own tale; reflective of a side shaping up against the league favourites with a makeshift midfield devoid of the talents of Jan Kirchoff and the sadly missing Yann M’Vila; But, Sunderland will certainly do better on home turf against one of the Premier League’s new boys.
However, if possession stats often belie a true tale, our weakness since the departure of the ball-keeping possessive that was Gus Poyet, has been in actually taking hold of the white round thing. Sunderland had the second lowest average ball possession stat in the Premier League last season; only missing out on last spot thanks to Tony hump-it Pulis. We also claimed the ‘lowest pass success’, so plenty to work on.
A week focused on tiring these poor Boro lads out seems in order for training this week Mr Moyes. A bit more ball possession and forcing them to chase the game should see us claim 3 points in August for the first time in a couple of years and wild celebrations will ensue.
Koné Looks More Goné If You’re Blue
An eerie quiet has descended on the Lamine Koné saga. The news on his future is divided into two clear camps. The Merseyside media are claiming it’s a done deal and that confirmation is only awaiting David Moyes being able to identify a suitable replacement and/or taking an Everton player hostage by way of compensation; or on the other side, the North East press who are holding Moyes at his word and have concluded that the player will stay, accept his fine and enter into contract negotiations come September.
I feel like he’s gone; but that’s just the way the wind is blowing outside my window today. A £20m fee is equivalent to £900,000 profit for every match he’s played in a red and white shirt and is likely irresistible. Plus, there’s just too many observers who are adamant that the deal is actually done and dusted; and Everton lining up with three at the back on Saturday hints at what Ronald Koeman is looking for in his new side’s defensive makeup, so he’ll be wanting all the big centre backs he can get. Some Everton fans are anticipating he will be unveiled when the Toffees take on Yeovil in the League Cup next Tuesday.
One thing is for sure; if a deal has been concluded, Koné will surely not face Middlesbrough on Sunday. £20m is too much to risk in an early season derby and we'll know either way by then.
Adnan Januzaj Shows Sunderland Fans Their Age
Adnan Januzaj is 21, he was born in 1995. Sunderland fans have hit a few headlines with their new Stone Roses-inspired terrace anthem, hailing their new on loan hero to the tune of Made of Stone. I’ve even seen it featured on Belgian and German websites today; it’s going to be this years ‘Will Grigg’, but any bets on which club will copy it first? I’ll go for Hull.
The song, a new terrace anthem then, was originally a smash in the hit-parade a whole six years before our Adnan was even born. That was 1989 – the year Marco Gabbiadini bagged eighteen league goals and Chelsea finished top of the old Division two just ahead of Manchester City. Adnan Januzaj has been around a while and he’s only 21. Adnan Januzaj makes us feel old.
Anyway, good to see Sunderland’s newly signed winger settling in with an interview on the club’s official website. Revealing the key to his signing was the appeal of linking up with David Moyes again, the young Belgian said all the right things about Sunderland’s appeal as a ‘big club’ with fantastic fans.
An interesting season then for Adnan Januzaj; a success at Sunderland and he might just earn a chance to impress Jose Mourinho, or an even bigger prize, a permanent deal at the Stadium of Light.