So the final match of a pretty bad year for the club saw Sunderland grind out a victory at Nottingham Forest. Quite frankly, I am bloody chuffed. But spare a thought for Mark Warburton who begins 2018 looking for a new job after being dismissed this morning.
The stats at the City ground made for a bizarre read, the hosts had a resounding 22 shots on goal to Sunderland’s lone effort. However putting the ball in the net which counts and a stubborn performance made sure that all three points would return to Wearside. It wasn’t pretty; but none of our few victories have been this season (for a variety of reasons).
Aidan McGeady was the match winner and his header would have made Niall Quinn proud. On a different day his effort probably wouldn’t have beaten the keeper, but yesterday was one of those games where we just managed to get that rub of the green which we’ve seen so little of over the course of the campaign. When managers get the sack, so often their fate is sealed by such unlikely moments.
The pre match chatter from our camp was that we’d be without a good few first team players for our last fixture in 2017, but Coleman kept up his bold team selections by giving Josh Maja his first start for the club. The striker put a shift in and, along with George Honeyman, showed that the youngsters are demonstrating how they’re going to be a vital part of our squad.
Operating up front as a lone striker, Maja was well supported by McManaman and McGeady who played just behind him; if Lewis Grabban returns to full fitness (and if we manage to keep him) we could have the makings of a very decent strike force.
The intensity of the festive period means that one defeat can easily turn into two or three in a matter of days. In days gone by, we wouldn’t have bounced back so well from a 3-0 defeat. Under Chris Coleman, we are a much more stubborn side defensively. Four clean sheets in the last seven is testament to Robin Ruiter and a massively improved back four, or five as it has been recently.
Luck was on our side in Nottinghamshire yesterday - when the hosts hit the post with virtually the last kick of the game it was a huge sigh of relief. Perhaps a sign of things to come in 2018, it will take some time to really get moving up the table however the win yesterday meant that we won’t be in the drop zone for New Year, albeit only on goal difference. The players should be well and truly up for our New Years day bout against Barnsley, three points would be greatly appreciated lads.