Walshie says... Portsmouth supporters in the play-offs!
If there is one major positive to come out of this season it is the igniting of massive beef with Portsmouth. It is the kind of rivalry that springs up out of nowhere but only intensifies with each passing season and I, for one, couldn’t be happier.
After flare-gate at the end of April, both the Pompey supporters and players promised a white-hot atmosphere at Fratton Park for the play-off second leg. It was going to be like that famous night against AC Milan (where they conspired to blow a 2-0 lead in the last minute) and our players would simply wilt under the immense pressure.
It was pretty big talk from a club that had managed to blow their automatic hopes by losing to Peterborough United and drawing with Accrington Stanley in their final two games at Fortress Fratton. What conspired was a crowd and team simultaneously bottling it.
As bricklayer Brett Pitman wheezed his way around the pitch, the only thing the bear pit atmosphere could muster was a jab on Luke O’Nien. A bemused O’Nien hoisted himself out of the lap of a Neanderthal as a googly-eyed Mick Hucknall attempted to offer out Lee Cattermole.
For all the “battering” they talked about, all Portsmouth served up was a world class bottling. See you next season, lads.
Gav says.... Jack Baldwin vs Coventry!
I was a big fan of Jack Baldwin earlier in the season. He showed he was a classy operator on the ball and was a vital component in the high-pressing, possession-based system that Jack Ross started the season utilising only to get further and further away from it, before it was eventually expelled after we sold Josh Maja and had to rethink our way of playing.
Baldwin suffered after the turn of the year and never really recovered, failing to convince fans that he was worth sticking by as calls intensified in January for us to sign a towering defender who could come in and shake up the Baldwin-Flanagan partnership that kept beinf exposed by their lack of physicality in an area where it was needed.
Baldwin’s worst day came against Coventry at the Stadium of Light, where the lack of cover both down the flanks and from the midfield in front of him and Tom Flanagan led to the defender having his most embarrassing performance in a Sunderland shirt.
Coventry’s pace and strength badly exposed the glaring weaknesses in Baldwin’s game, and he never kicked another ball before the end of the season as Jack Ross chose to remove him from the picture completely for the remaining games.
For me, it was comfortably the worst individual performance from any Sunderland player this season and may well be a defining factor in whether or not Baldwin has a long-term future at this club, as it may be the case that we instead look to replace him with someone more physically appropriate for the hustle and bustle of League One football.
Graham says... Jack Ross’ play-off final performance!
Let me start by saying I am firmly in the ‘Ross in’ camp, but the biggest disappointment of the entire season was our lacklustre performance in the Play-off final.
After our poor performance only two months previous at Wembley in the Checkatrade trophy you’d have expected far, far better in a game of significantly more importance.
The whole team absolutely bottled it, and I have to put the blame for that on the man who picks the team.
Jack Ford says... Bryan Oviedo v Peterborough!
He kicked a lad up the arse.
He got a straight red card for kicking a lad, up the arse.
A senior international, freshly back from the World Cup, playing in the third division, on a weekly wage more than the entire wage bill of some teams in the division, kicked a lad up the arse. And got sent off.
In a crucial game against what were automatic promotion contenders.
Bryan Oviedo has disappointed all season, and this was his nadir. He could be capable of so much more, but unlike Aiden McGeady he just hasn’t stepped up.
He’s decided he doesn’t want to waste his career with us in League One, so has decided to just waste a season of his career full stop.