clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

ITHICS Fanzine: Draw not enough as second half collapse just about confirms Sunderland’s relegation

“Coleman said in his post-match that we had something about us in the last three games. We have something about us alright - the stench of relegation. We said last week that a draw wouldn’t be good enough. It wasn’t. It’ll be a miracle if we survive.”

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

After going 1-0 up against Millwall, me and the countless others in the away end sang;

We’re winning away

We’re winning away

How sh*t must you be!

We’re winning away

But... we didn’t win away. After watching us play okay in the first half, against an equally poor Millwall, there were some positives to take. Nobody was actually bad in that half - even our keeper pulled off a fine diving save.

It started to go wrong at the break, however. Queueing 15 minutes to not get a pint at half time - look, you muppets, Sunderland are here. Have 140 pints lined up ready to serve before the referee’s whistle goes! It’s always the same in London. But the second period started and we were feeling positive, for we’d been marginally the better team in the first 45 minutes.

Neil Chandler

One of the London-based Mackems had brought his ten-year old daughter for her first Sunderland game, so she could experience “dad’s football” and not just the usual tedious Arsenal fare she normally sees week-in week-out.

She has been to twenty games at the Emirates, and seen them beaten only once. That’s how you hook fans in - not by witnessing two grown men knocking lumps out of each other (some things in South London never change). You don’t gain fans by the team coming out in the second half, being ultra-narrow with a back five, sitting so far back it was like a game of Sardines in the penalty box, either.

Only one defender ever went out to challenge the Millwall wingers trying to cross the ball, which they inevitably did. I appreciate this is a tactic by Coleman to shore up a shoddy defence but it makes for a lousy game; cutting out crosses and having nobody up the pitch to be on the end of the lumped clearance by O’Shea, or an insanely wayward punt by Steele just doesn’t win you games.

Getty Images

And when I say nobody on the end of the up-field ball, I mean Fletcher. Our manager says he needs to work on his heading. He also needs to work on his running, passing, shooting (although there was no evidence he’s not good at that – he didn’t have a shot) and strength. Weak as water, that lad. If he scores this season, I’ll eat a meat pie at the SoL.

Watch the highlights and I’ll bet the only positive Sunderland actions will be the cracker from Oviedo. He’s the only real positive I took from the game, with honourable mentions for McManaman and McGeady – both of whom were inexplicably subbed, while Fletcher stay on the pitch in the absence of anyone left to cross to him. I’d almost add Kone to being OK, but he still needs more focus and urgency.

Coleman said in his post-match that we had something about us in the last three games. We have something about us alright - the stench of relegation. We said last week that a draw wouldn’t be good enough. It wasn’t. It’ll be a miracle if we survive.

Neil Chandler