Curtains for Steele?
Well. It’s hard to find excuses for Jason Steele. On the one hand he was never lauded as a particularly good ‘keeper, and while the money Sunderland paid for him was a huge chunk of our recent transfer budget it’s still bargain-basement numbers.
But let’s face it – he’s about as bad a goalkeeper as we’ve had in recent memory.
I actually feel bad for the man, having been previously told by Sunderland that he isn’t good enough, then to be brought back into Sunderland and to be actually not good enough.
It’s no life is it? He should start looking for a Conference club right now and settle into it, because no manager at this level or above is going to select him based on his form for us.
We cannot persist with John O’Shea & Lee Cattermole
Whatever plans Coleman had laid during the half-time team talk were lost in the tumult of flailing limbs that has constituted a Sunderland player challenging for possession, and the away fans surely felt that familiar world-weariness when Lee Cattermole did his best impersonation of a mannequin being blown over by a strong wind as he allowed Eze to breeze past him and bury the ball in the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
It would be quicker to point out what O’Shea did right than list everything he does wrong. Since I’m in no mood to compliment someone that I believe should’ve been replaced two years ago, someone who is as complicit in the sorry state of affairs we find ourselves as any player on the books can be, I won’t even bother doing that. He’s just not very good, and it’s that simple.
Nearly every effort to move the ball from defence to attack was intercepted either because the pass was poor, the pace was off or the passer simply didn’t have a plan beyond getting it out from under their feet. If it did fall to someone chances are it would be Lee Cattermole, who seems to have tragically lost both his hearing and his sense of spatial awareness, if he had any to begin with. Beyond one albeit quality challenge in the first half Cattermole was an embarrassment on the pitch today.
God must know why Coleman persists with him and his equally dross compatriot John O’Shea, because I sure as sh*t do not.
Set piece specialists required
It seemed every opportunity Sunderland were given to cross the ball from open play or a corner, they couldn’t manage it. Evidently Bryan Oviedo is the first choice for an in-swinging corner from the left of the goal but I can’t for the life of me see why.
On paper he’s left footed but in practise against QPR he was kicking like a penguin. Some of those corners would have been laughable if they weren’t opportunities to stay in the Championship, squandered.
You can score a few screamers if you like, that’s great, but if you can’t cross a ball you can’t call yourself a modern full-back.
Ashley Fletcher has been possessed by the ghost of Jack Rodwell
I have a mate who’s an season ticket holder at West Ham, and I was excited to hear of Ashley Fletcher’s arrival at Sunderland because I remember sitting with that mate in the London Olympic Stadium watching a slightly younger Ashley Fletcher terrorise the defence of... whoever they were playing, I forget, but the point is he was doing a fantastic job of making a real nuisance of himself. I recall thinking at the time that a player like this is exactly what Sunderland need: full of fight, uninhibited, aggressive, strong, pacey and clever.
None of those words can be applied to Ashley Fletcher right now, and I’m left wondering if I my drink was spiked on that day.
If it weren’t for the fact that Fletcher had disappointed everyone at Middlesbrough and was now on loan at one of the worst sides in the English leagues I would be convinced that Jack Rodwell had spent his time (and Sunderland’s money) studying the ancient mysteries of Astral Projection, and had somehow managed to achieve the enlightenment and inner power required to snatch Fletcher’s younger and more able body.
“But Jack Rodwell is too bone idle to do one job, let alone two,” you cry, “why would he do this?”
Two wages. Think about it.
Does Coleman have any options left?
There isn’t much that we didn’t already know to take away from this defeat, but one thing is clear: Chris Coleman is running out of ideas.
He’s put just about every player he can in every position he can feasibly imagine, and it isn’t working. This business of hoofing the ball up to a lonely Ashley Fletcher is not a strategy at all. It’s a reflex - like the way a corpse twitches long after it has ceased to live.
I’ll bet Chris is sitting at home as I write this, wondering the very same thing. What can he do? What possible formation can he force this rabble in to? What tactic can possibly overcome inability? It’s a concern that a manager with so much promise, a man who clearly commands respect from the football community, can have his hands tied behind his back without seeing it coming.
As with every single manager that has come before him I am now positive that Chris Coleman has been promised something that has not materialised. No one in their right mind would walk into this quicksand willingly.
I feel bad for the guy, frankly. I’ve felt bad for most of our managers in the last five years or so. There comes a time when you just have to see Sunderland for what it is - broken, inside and out. No amount of tactics or tinkering is going to change that.
Wholesale change is required and if Coleman doesn’t get the backing to make those changes, I highly doubt he’ll be here next season.