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Quick Kicks: John O’Shea & Lee Cattermole swan around Sunderland like their sh*t doesn’t stink

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You would think writing about Sunderland AFC gets easier every week, but I can assure you that is not the case.

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Now, I don’t subscribe to the idea that Chris Coleman isn’t a good manager. It’s been said before but it needs repeating – Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Wor Rafa; none of these people could do a better job than Coleman is right now, because none of them are sorcerers.

Science has proven many things, and through that we know that it isn’t possible to draw blood from a stone, transmute iron into gold, or get a lesson through the miles-thick skulls of the vast majority of our squad.

The manager is an easy target for the frustrated but time and time again Sunderland players fail, and still the same familiar faces are kicking about on a pitch that’s too big for them.

That being said, dropping John O’Shea and Lee Cattermole would be a bloody good start.

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O’Shea and Cattermole are complicit

You simply cannot have your centre half – and skipper no less – caught ball-watching, stood miles off his marker. John O’Shea has no defensive vision whatsoever, and worse still he has no legs to react to the situations he can’t predict. Everyone was complicit in the first goal but I’m blaming O’Shea for it regardless.

Lee Cattermole? Don’t make me laugh. I remember defending this man when everyone was calling him a thug. He isn’t even that anymore; thug would be too generous. He’s a waste of space. The end of his contract can’t come too soon. Has his pockets picked more times than a tourist in a tube station because he has no spatial awareness, he’s slow, clumsy and completely lacking vision. A few ironic claps greet his few completed passes, and I hope he heard them.

Perhaps the most infuriating aspect of seeing these two plodders on the team sheet again and again and again is that neither of them are there on merit. They get the starting berth because they’ve both been at the club longer than any other player, and somehow they’ve endeared themselves to the backroom staff and executives over the years – these two are nigh-on untouchable, and it’s disgraceful.

I couldn’t care less how bright their smiles are or how much the younger players “look up to them” (I highly doubt they do), build a statue for them if you please, just don’t tell me you’re going out to win a game when those names are first on the team sheet. O’Shea hasn’t been good enough for years and he was barely more than a utility player in his prime, which was so long ago that I doubt even he remembers why anyone gave him a medal.

These two men swan about Sunderland AFC like their sh*t doesn’t stink, and have been doing that for years. They’ve got the run of the dressing room and I am utterly convinced that if there were a breadcrumb trail left behind by whatever our recurring “rotten core” is, that it would lead straight to them.

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All academy products are not created equal

Apparently Josh Maja was playing up front for us yesterday, but I didn’t notice. I recall seeing a young lad who appears to be built like a brick shithouse getting dumped on his arse when he tried to impose himself on the Preston back line – was that him?

I don’t want to pick on a youngster but he’s just a step too slow, didn’t do anything to create opportunity for himself or others, and is deceptively weak for his build. Based on his performance today it seems he and Fletcher are interchangeable. At least Fletcher doesn’t get blown over by a strong gust of wind.

By comparison his Swedish counterpart Joel Asoro again showed flashes of brilliance before the collective weight of more misery came down on the squad like a rainstorm, and even then it’s worth noting that could be seen busting a gut getting back from set pieces to challenge counter attacks while our defenders were wondering what they were having for tea.

I highly doubt we’ll manage to keep hold of him as I’m sure other, better teams with actual prospects are circling for his signature.

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Clarke-Salter is an idiot

Often you’ll see centre backs commit fouls on players that are already past them and too fast for them to catch. With Clarke-Salter however you just need to approach him from any angle for him to forget that he isn’t on a public field with Dog and Duck FC.

Both offending challenges from him were absolutely woeful – they were late, they were clumsy and they had all the hallmarks of a goalkeeper’s tackle.

Up until that red card we were actually in the game in spite of how fragile and nervous Clarke-Salter looked. There is no excuse for the idiocy displayed by him on Saturday, and frankly I could write ten thousand words on how much of a pillock he is, but I’ve got other points to make and he’s not worth my time.

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Sunderland can’t buy full backs

Well, we can, but they aren’t really any good. The system we used against Preston has become a common sight for Sunderland fans, but for the life of me I don’t understand why. I can see the intentions Coleman has with the formation but anyone watching the game must be wondering why we only had nine – or rather eight – players on the pitch, because our “wing backs” are invisible for the majority of the game. Oviedo barely had a handful of touches in the first forty minutes, and the same is true for Matthews.

There is no point in having defenders that can’t defend, and attackers that can’t attack. A wing back is supposed to be capable of doing both but on Saturday ours weren’t capable of doing either. I’ve never been a big fan of Billy Jones but his replacement looks tired and lost on the pitch; unsure of his role in the grand scheme.

This is something Sunderland have struggled with for years. The crazy thing about it is that a few years ago we only had a perennial left-back problem, now it’s the entire back line. One thing I do know is that if the manager does get any money to spend next season, the first place I’d be shoring up is a defence that doesn’t leak so much as run like a tap.

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We’re done

I’m not sure if anyone else has noticed but we’re out of this league, and we have been for some time. There are now eight games remaining in this campaign and the only Sunderland-related comfort I receive is from the knowledge that we won’t have to bear this humiliation much longer, but the caveat is that we have to go down for it to end and there are no guarantees of anything when we’re down there.

Based on every performance this season, dreams of a ‘great escape’ are nothing more than dreams; anyone with two brain cells to rub together can see we’re coming up to the drop. By all means have your hope and keep the faith, but don’t let yourself be surprised when the time comes.