visit those nice people at ready to go


After our slow start to the season, the events of the last month have been, on the whole, very encouraging for Sunderland fans. The introduction of Thome and Varga has improved the team considerably, and, at a combined fee of £8m, it has confirmed what many supporters have been saying for a long time now – there are bargains out there, but generally, you get what you pay for where transfers are concerned.

Thome’s combination with a resurgent Jody Craddock has helped to build a team that is difficult to break down, just as the unbelievable control of young Hoolio has provided an outlet to keep possession. Goal-scoring, however, has been more elusive. Obviously, Kev and Quinny have banged a few home, but only two other players have recorded Premiership goals so far this season. Indeed, since our return to the Premiership, the fact that Phillips has scored in all of our six away victories, shows the extent to which we depend upon him.

As you will see from our Opta statistics slot, one of our reasons for our lack of goals is the lower number of successful crosses we are producing this season, despite the excellent progress of our wingers. With Kilbane’s suspension upon us, now would seem like the ideal time to reintroduce Nicky Summerbee – a proven crosser of the football. Unfortunately, however, it would appear that this will not happen, as the winger has been frozen out at the Stadium of Light, despite assurances that this would not happen.

In a recent interview, Summerbee has likened his situation at the club to that of Allan Johnston last year: “I had a year left on my contract and I thought I would get the chance to prove myself, but I’ve not had the chance. I’m not happy, but it looks as if there is nothing I can do about it. I don’t see any prospect of (contract) talks opening again because I’m not getting a game at any level… the club is just paying me to train and I don’t understand it. ”Unfortunately, this is a situation we know only too well in recent times, and history suggests that Winterwasp will never pull on a Sunderland shirt again, and will leave on a Bosman free at the end of the season. Nobody I have spoken to wants this to happen.

Elsewhere, Sunderland Association Football Club Plc announced a 225% increase in full-year profits as pre-tax profits at the club for the twelve months to May rose from £1.5m to £4.8m. Naturally, it is in every Sunderland fan’s interest for the club to be financially viable, and in comparison to Newcastle United’s £19m pre-tax loss, this is an excellent performance in many ways. However, the club must ensure that these immense profits off the field are mirrored by success on it, and with unexpected windfalls from Sky investment and extra TV revenue, it is hoped that the club will reward loyalty from the fans by reducing the cost of admission to the SoL, which is yet to reach capacity this season. Similarly, the club might question the wisdom of asking the supporters to fund the development of the youth academy three weeks before announcing such substantial profits.

Finally, we hope that you continue to enjoy the fanzine, and that you find the range of different opinions informative and interesting. If you feel your view is not represented, it is up to you to put it forward and set us straight, so keep the letters, e-mails, phone calls, faxes and text messages coming. And remember, the views in Sex & Chocolate aren’t necessarily those of the editorial staff… all the other rubbish is.

opta @ planet

These statistics are compiled by Iain Turner. Iain is a Sunderland season ticket holder who works at Opta. If there are any statistic-related Sunderland questions you want him to look into, e-mail him on and he'll endeavour to find the answers and include them in the only fanzine slot Opta contribute to.

Killa v Hoolio

Despite taking the brunt of the fans’ criticism over the past ten months, Kilbane is doing a sterling job for the team at the moment. In contrast to Killa’s long period of acclimatisation, Hooolio has very rapidly become a fans’ favourite since his debut. Interestingly, though, the two wingers’ stats are very similar.

Neither would class their current position as their strongest, Killa preferring the left wing slot he occupies for Ireland where he has performed magnificently and Arca the left back berth, which may go some way to explaining their low cross completion rate.

Despite this, however, both are having acceptable seasons to date, though the lack of successful crosses is reflected in the lack of goals Sunderland have scored this year – it is surely an area were we will be looking for marked improvement.

As is well documented, Killa has taken time to adjust to Premiership football and find his form. A look at the passing accuracy, however, suggests that he has now, and we are beginning to reap the rewards. Hooolio to is getting better game by game as he adjusts to English football, but they say that class shows and it certainly stands out a mile on this lad.

Reid is often criticised for his lack of spending in the transfer market, but praise must be given for his astute signing of Arca, which is already beginning to look like a snip at £3.5m. If Kilbane does improve his right foot, we may yet find some of the balance we have been lacking since the days of Johnston and Summerbee.

However, from where I sit in the North Stand, if either of them are going to play on the right then it should be Arca – his style to me would seem to be better suited to the right hand side than Kilbane’s.

Kevin Kilbane / Hooolio Arca

Time on pitch: 786mins/499mins

Goals: 1/1

Shots on target: 4/2

Shots off target: 8/4

Blocked shots: 2/3

Hit woodwork: 1/1

Shooting accuracy: 33.33%/33%

Assists: 2/0

Passing accuracy own half: 79.12%/76.27%

Passing accuracy opposition half: 65.81%/75.16%

Cross completion: 16.67%/14.29%

Successful dribbles: 36.67%/36.84%

Total fouls won: 20/10


Super Kevin Phillips

With the team struggling to score goals, it is worrying to see once again the over-reliance on Phillips and Quinn. With neither of the front two firing on all cylinders yet, we have needed goals from other areas, and this has not happened.

Phillips' lack of goals (compared to his usual high standards) can be blamed on a number of possible factors: could it be the pre-season injury that affected his form and fitness? Was it because of his continued omission from the England team, slowly eroding his confidence? Might it be down to a lack of service from other areas in the team? Or is it simply that he has less chances to score now that he is dropping deeper and wider?

We all know that as a partnership, Quinn and Phillips thrive on crosses into the box and, for one reason or another, the quality of service has been lacking this year. Last season 32% of crosses were successful compared to only 27% so far this season, and many fans will point to the continued absence of Summerbee, who last season had a successful crossing percentage of 36%.

One thing is for sure. If we are to continue our rise up the table and have successful cup runs, we are going to need Phillips to start scoring at his normal rate soon. After his penalty against Chelsea and recent goals against Liverpool and Derby, it looks like this is beginning to happen. However, bear in mind that whilst worries continue to rise about Phillips, what are the Mags thinking about poor old Shearer?

Kevin Phillips 99/00 / Kevin Phillips 00/01

Time on pitch: 3197mins/810mins

Total goals: 30/4

Left foot goals: 4/0

Right foot goals: 21/4

Headed goals: 5/0

Goals inside box: 24/3

Goals outside box: 6/1

Goals to shots: 25%/16.67%

Shots on target: 65/9

Shots off target: 57/15

Blocked shots: 29/2

Shooting accuracy: 50.97%/37.50%

Shooting accuracy inside box: 60.27%/25.00%

Shooting accuracy outside box: 41.67%/50.00%

Assists: 4/0


Mickey Gray v Chris Makin

Our new attacking full back, without a booking this season, supplying goals and attempting to score goals himself is none other than Chris Makin. Makin, performing his own brand of total football is according to Opta's stats, outperforming England International and Sunderland captain, Mickey Gray.

Having said that, Mickey, who many would agree is playing better now than he has for a long time, is certainly performing well. It has long been a key feature in our attacking play to see Mickey Gray bombing down the outside to help the attack, and since the introduction of Hooolio, Mickey certainly seems to have started going forward more again.

Both have a high dribble and run completion rate and both of their successful crosses are well above the average for the team, making them important to creativity. This is positive, and their continued attacking play should reap further benefits as time goes on - they are both attacking more now than earlier in the season, perhaps due to the reassuring presence of Thome in defence.

Mickey Gray / Chris Makin

Time on pitch: 810mins/810mins

Clearances/Blocks/Interceptions: 33/27

Tackles won: 15/20

Successful tackles: 71.43%/76.92%

Free-kicks conceded: 8/10

Yellow cards: 2/0

Fouls won: 8/16

Shots on target: 1/1

Shots off target: 1/4

Passing accuracy own half: 81.25%/73.21%

Passing accuracy opposition half: 65.35%/66.49%

Assists: 1/2

Successful crosses: 42.59%/45%

Dribble and run success rate: 83.67%/95.00%


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