It’s been a very interesting week at SAFC... as they always are.
Let’s have a look at who had a good week and who had a one to forget.
Good Week: Danny Batth
Rade Prica. Stan Varga. Michael Chopra. Lorik Cana..... when someone has a stormer on debut it tends to stick in your head.
You can add Danny Batth to the list.
He sneaked in under the radar last week didn’t he? All of the talk was of Jermain Defoe and whether or not the deal everyone wanted was going to happen. Any remaining column inches were taken up by the lengthy, but ultimately successful, Patrick Roberts pursuit.
Batth signed with little preamble, and he hardly put a foot wrong the whole game. Okay he one shaky moment early on when he appeared to stumble on the ball – everyone gets a free hit though, and we can put that down to him settling into his new surroundings.
After that it was plain sailing for Batth. He looked a real powerhouse at the back, and his heading and clearances were extremely effective. He tackled, grafted and battled his way to a very well-earned clean sheet.
The Portsmouth front-line have caused us problems in the past with Marcus Harness and Ronan Curtis both dangerous on their day. They didn’t get any change out of Batth or his defensive partner Callum Doyle.
You also saw Batth shepherding the defence and acting as an organiser and leader. It’s imperative to have someone in a defence that plays that role and I’m sure everyone agrees that if he continues to play like that, more clean sheets should surely be on the way.
Bad Week - The Stadium of Light ground staff
At the risk of going on a massive rant, I’m getting fed up with the shoddy condition of the SOL pitch.
The pitch has been in such a poor state for so long – it’s only a matter of time before it starts genuinely costing us points. It was dry in certain sections, churning up constantly and just looked like it had been poorly maintained for a long time.
For the first time in a long while, we finally have a team that passes the ball with a tempo and energy at this level. We predominantly play on the floor and look to build from the back.
It’s been clear to see that at points this season teams haven’t been able to deal with us. The likes of Morecambe, Sheffield Wednesday, Cheltenham and Crewe have all struggled when we’re in top gear.
Our chances of playing at a tempo, carving teams open with a cutting edge is greatly decreased if our pitch resembles a cabbage patch. How often do you see an FA Cup upset when a team from a lower division on a horrible pitch is triumphant and the pitch is a factor in that. It can be a leveller.
Against Portsmouth, ironically our goal came from the pressing and mis-control of the Portsmouth team playing out from the back. I feel this is an isolated incident however and it is far more likely the pitch is a hindrance to our game than an asset – in fact, Lee Johnson has said we’ll likely have to change our style of play due to the poor condition of the pitch.
If we are to get out of this division, we have to give ourselves the best possible opportunity. At home, that means playing with the best possible pitch.
We are Sunderland. If we want to start thinking about becoming a Championship team, let’s leave the non-league pitches behind.
Bring back Tommy Porter!