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Talking Points: Sad, sorry, and pathetic - Sunderland have sunk to new lows with Cheltenham loss

There are very few talking points worth air time - let’s say it how it is (or at least how our Malc feels) after that abomination of a defeat for Sunderland away to Cheltenham.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Five changes in the starting lineup... Effective?

For 45 minutes we did okay. We shaded the half in my view and we narrowly deserved the lead at half time, taking the half by the one goal, with a single bit of quality both sides struggled to duplicate.

Clarke was bright early on. Matete dominated the middle of the park and won the free kick just past the half hour, when he had no right to. Pritchard despatched it onto the postage stamp. Keeper no chance. 1-0 away. Life is good.

Three minutes later, Dajaku has a header tipped over the bar after a great ball in from the free kick scorer. So close to a two goal lead.

Cheltenham Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

We looked reasonably solid defensively too in the first period, with Cheltenham creating very few chances (amazing what happens when you put a left and right back on the park, in the positions they know best). Hume looked fresh and offered positive movement as well as defence. Cirkin did alright after having a shocker against Doncaster. Patterson commanded his box well when needed, and looked comfortable with his defence.

In my view, the replacements came in and made a difference in the first 45. Post that, it was simply a management and leadership disaster, and a disgrace to the fans who travelled to Cheltenham midweek (and all those watching online - how we wish this wasn’t available to stream now!).

Thousands of Mackems spent their hard-earned money and time to watch the club that these so-called interim coaches and our Director of Football are slowly destroying from the inside.

Thanks for that, lads.


What went wrong in the second 45 minutes?

We didn’t turn up. Simple as that.

When the lads in yellow were failing to make in-roads early in the second half (a very appropriate colour, given how we are surrendering our league ambitions to all comers right now), the caretaker management did nothing to freshen things up. Cue the opponents, who are new to league one and still see every game against us as a cup final. 20 minutes into the second half, they get a goal back and draw level.

Granted the equaliser was a pretty decent strike from the edge of the box, but we had chances to prevent the creation of the opportunity and to smother the shot, and we didn’t. The bigger disappointment for me was the lack of a reaction both pre and post that goal.

We were 1-1 against a team who hasn’t won for 13 games or so, but all that known, we sat back and hoped for a point, and the temporary coaches didn’t add anything to the mixer till Roberts came on for Dajaku on 75.

Clearly the Johnson policy of “no subs till about 75-80 in, come what may” is being adhered to by the men left behind. Totally and utterly gutless, senseless, unacceptable and completely extinct of any football tactical nouse.

Bolton Wanderers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Can I unsign now please?
Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Yes, we had an attempt cleared off the line on the 78th minute, but after basking in the non-glory of that nearly goal, we switched off while a good old league-one, route-one hoof ball soared over our dropped heads. They beat us to the ball and grabbed a second goal 80 mins in. 2-1 down. Embarrassing, even for our clan of clowns.

For some inane reason we then added 2 more subs on 84 mins and 86 mins, but they did little to hide the combined disappointment and fury of the fans at the game, and those watching online.


Who would realistically take this on now?

If Roy has any sense he will walk away. I would if I was him. He has the option to do so, a choice which we fans do not.

We have said across the last few games that a lot of people on and off the pitch need to take a hard look in the mirror. After this set of 3 results, I am personally starting a whip-round to despatch a new full length looking glass from Gateshead Ikea, direct to the house of Mr Speakman.

The management of the exit of Johnson has been a joke. The transfer window has left an already depleted backline even worse off as Lee has headed for the beach with his pay off, and the way the sides have been picked and managed has resulted in scoreboards and performances which leave the remaining squad utterly bereft of confidence and belief. Tonight, even when they took a lead they could not hold on to it.

Emotional decisions seem to have completely taken over from the data-centric, long term strategies we were told were the future, too. With the return of Defoe and the potential resumption of management under Keane, are we deciding our way forward with data, or dropping back to dewey-eyed reminiscence and reputations of old? How good a signing really was our Jermain, if all he can do is a cameo 8 minutes at the end of already lost matches? He clearly sells seats, but how long will that last?

The club has clearly assumed that we will be OK in terms of performances for these supposedly no-loss games by securing the services of some real attacking flair, and hoping the part-time coaches can pull off wins. That would be an OK plan if we were to score more than the opposition, but we have delayed and at times avoided using the fresh talent brought in. Meanwhile, our shell of a rearguard has seen more balls bounce past them than the red light sector in Amsterdam will see in many a year.

Johnson may not have been perfect, but his stand in’s need to follow him out the door for me, and Kyril needs to find a new Director of Football too. None of this can fall on the shoulders of one (diminutive) head coach. He was a bit streaky, but his streaks included the odd win, including a 5-0 walloping of tonight’s opponents at home.

West Bromwich Albion v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship
Neil will be racing up the odds list when Roy turns us down. Can’t wait to watch his style out there.
Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

So what is our message? Sort it our Kyril. NOW.

Given the recent performances and results, we wish you good luck getting any manager/coach to take this basket case on.

Your actions and those of your DOF (and your temporary charges in the dugout) just took a zero off the value of our club, and added it onto the salary ask from Roy. He would be mad to even be associated with our lot.

I really wouldn’t blame Roy for saying no. After the last 3 games, many fans will too.

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