Dear Roker Report,
So, we got beat on Saturday.
I don’t think it was a surprise to many, but the way Newcastle celebrated, you would’ve thought they’d won the Champions League. Even a former professional in Jamie O’Hara found it embarrassing!
With that in mind, I thought I should put it into perspective, and if you take out Nazariy Rusyn, Luke O’Nien and Alex Pritchard, the average age of our team was twenty one years old.
Well done, Newcastle. It took you multiple attempts and half a billion pounds to essentially beat a Championship club’s U21 side. Blood money well spent.
It still astounds me that the Premier League has allowed a country with an atrocious human rights record, who’ve not only been linked with terrorist acts but also allegedly murdered people who’ve spoken out against them to invest in a football team.
What next? Vladimir Putin to buy Manchester United? Kim Jong-Un to buy Fulham?
It would appear that money buys everything these days and I wonder how many brown envelopes have been trousered to let this happen.
Shame on all those involved and to those Newcastle fans who are celebrating this result. You should’ve asked Santa for a moral compass, as your club no longer has one.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Paul. Thanks for your letter.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, I believed that Newcastle had to secure a comprehensive victory in order to gain any genuine satisfaction, given the gulf in quality between the two sides and the financial resources they can boast nowadays.
The scoreline was fair and the outcome was the right one, but the nature of the game itself was strange.
It didn’t have anywhere near the amount of needle or ferocity that you might associate with a Wear-Tyne derby, and I’m not quite sure how seriously our players took it, either. Yes, we’ve got other objectives this season, but this is still one hell of an important game, and it should be treated as such.
Perhaps the Saudi money has changed the nature of the rivalry.
Perhaps this game is now viewed as an occasional novelty rather than something to truly relish, but one thing is for sure: if and when we’re back in the Premier League, we’d have to make sure that we’re up for it, because I felt we made it too easy for Newcastle on Saturday, and that was disappointing.
Dear Roker Report,
l seem to have watched a different game to everyone else, because I didn’t see Newcastle beat us. Instead, we beat ourselves by gifting them three goals.
l didn’t see them create many chances in the game, and I also think Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and his cronies should go and bring back Niall Quinn.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Arthur. Thanks for getting in touch.
When you look at the nature of the three goals we conceded on Saturday, it reads: ‘own goal, freebie after a poor individual error, and a penalty’.
That was frustrating, because Newcastle didn’t have to work hard for any of them, and we were the architects of our own downfall in many respects. If the three goals had been world class strikes, we could’ve held our hands up and said ‘fair enough’, but they weren’t.
Against an opponent of that quality, you can’t afford to give anything away and unfortunately we did, so there’s a big lesson to be learned there.
Dear Roker Report,
I watched the derby on Saturday with trepidation, and my comments below aren’t made in hindsight.
In my opinion, we were set up to fail, because I truly believed our head and assistant coaches would pick a tactically astute team to try and nullify the opposition.
Michael Beale stated that the players and coaches needed to learn from the game, but should they not have prepared and picked a team that could at least compete?
Putting Trai Hume against Anthony Gordon, Jack Clarke against Kieran Trippier and asking the midfield to try and hold the Newcastle midfield was nothing short of suicide.
Why did we not play a 4-4-2, bringing in Jenson Seelt and Nectar Triantis with Dan Ballard and Aji Alese, moving Hume and Luke O’Nien into midfield with Pierre Ekwah, and trying Nazariy Rusyn and Alex Pritchard as a front two for the first half?
Also, why wait until eighty five minutes to bring on a substitute that has no forward bone in his body as yet, and should be sent out on loan if they intend to keep him?
Your comments would be appreciated.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Alan. Thanks for your letter.
I agree that our tactical approach on Saturday was always going to lead to trouble.
Insisting on trying to play out from the back against Newcastle’s high press and not really varying it at any stage during the game was a foolish way of going about things and we duly paid the price.
That said, the way we played on Saturday is the ‘Sunderland style’ nowadays.
We don’t have a big target man to aim for; we like to play intricate, possession-based football, and that limits our options in terms of trying to vary the tactics.
If we can bring in a striker who fits that mould this month, it might give us a little more scope to develop a genuine ‘Plan B’, which will certainly be needed at some stage this season.