Past the square, past the bridge,
Past the pit, past the flats,
On a gathering storm comes
A tall handsome man
In a dusty Welsh coat
With a Red and White hand…
See that puff of smoke? That was all the positivity engendered by Coleman's arrival gannin up in smoke as our turgid response to Reading's equally turgid interpretation of Total Football saw us concede three calamitous goals that had even the visiting fans shaking their heads in disbelief. Anything you can do, we can mess up better. Or worse. The Coleman certainly didn't deliver today.
It had been quite a fun week, what with actually looking back on a game with fondness rather than frustration, and forward to the next one rather than fearing it. The Coleman delivered (sorry, had to be done), with an on-field celebration that endeared him to us immediately as we jumped around like bairns in the away end at Burton. The only negative from that win was Vaughan’s yellow for “over-celebration” and, while we might admonish the player for collecting that card, there are celebrations far more excessive in virtually every Premier league game that go unpunished – see Raheem Streling posing for selfies with an injured player after his late winner against Southampton for an example. It wasn’t as if Vaughany took his shirt off or jumped into the crowd – it’s a small ground, you can hardly cross the touchline without being in close proximity to the crowd, and it was instinctive rather than premeditated. What it does mean is Josh Maja’s promotion to the bench, which might give the Lad a chance to emulate his marra Asoro in bringing the squad a bit more of the enthusiasm of youth.
Coleman’s phone-in performance on Thursday was exactly what we’ve come to expect in only a week and a bit of his reign – I think even understands the language, as he even dealt well with the “Naah, ah’ve got nee question like. Ah’ve been decorating and ah’ve been on the cans, y’knaa” caller. Oh, and the Grabban situation that wasn’t even a situation until somebody in the media thought “he’s only on loan, there’s a story” when SAFC hadn’t mentioned it and Bournemouth hadn’t been on the phone about it. Offer us Defoe in exchange and we might consider it.
Anyway, after the fright of turning my SAFC calendar to December and finding Papy Djilobodji staring aimlessly across the kitchen, and the fright of Thursday’s snow getting in the way of our one-match unbeaten run, said white stuff disappeared by this morning to allow safe passage from Bishop.
Matthews O'Shea Browning Oviedo
McManaman Honeyman McGeady
We reverted to the old days and kicked off to the South. Reading apparently play Dutch football, which roughly translates as dull, dull, dull. They try to play it out from the back, but they're not very good at it. Mind, we should have been putting pressure on them, but we didn't. It was a game that Vaughan would have profited in, but Grabban doesn't do chasing and closing down. There was a shot from the visitors from distance that went way over the top, then a near post effort that did likewise when it should at least have been on target. We, on the other hand, didn't create any chances.
McManaman put in a thumping challenge out on the right, which got the crowd going, then followed it with a stupid scythe in the same spot that earned a deserved yellow. We'd barely had time to agree that it was deserved when Catts did the same, and was on tenterhooks thereafter. A harmless challenge, although a hefty one, by Oviedo on the line saw him pick up his opponent, the ref book them both, and the crowd to be completely befuddled. Nee harm done, ref, just let it be. Apparently he's been demoted from the prem, so watch out for him on a Sunday morning game near you soon. Awful decision.
As the three added minutes were announced, Honeyman slung in a cross from the right and the ball went into the net at the back post - with the linesman at the West side flagging like a radgie. Handball by McManaman, a second yellow, and off the daft bugger went. We'd been calling for him to be replaced, but not by nobody.
No changes for the second half, and we showed as much life as ten men could. It was looking promising after eight minutes, but McGeady lost the ball thirty yards out, Reading broke, and it was 0-1. Bollicks. Five minutes later, one of our brightest sparks, Oviedo had to leave and be replaced by Galloway.
A spell of Dutch football ( pass it along the halfway line twenty seven times then roll it back to Vito) eventually ended when we won it back and Honeyman did a couple of stepovers and got in shot that was blocked. Grabban tested Vito with a header, then, on 67, McGeady made way for Asoro. I don't think he'd touched the ball before Reading knocked in their second at the back post. All positivity generated by Coleman's arrival well and truly gone. As I was contemplating what I'd done wrong in the previous life that I've no recollection of, they got the third on 72.
It wouldn't be so bad, but Reading weren't any great shakes, and we just stood off them and allowed them to be dull. Look, I know there were only ten of us, but for goodness sake get into them. After Grabban actually won a header, we took the ball on and there was a great shot from Asoro that Vito parried, but young Joel's legs were taken away in comical fashion as he went for the loose ball. Penalty, Grabbsn, 1-3.
On 80, Catts was replaced by Gooch - 35 minutes late in most people's opinion, and at last we had some energy and movement in the middle. Asoro baffled us all with a throw to the back post, then took a heavy tumble but recovered to produce a series of MORE LONG THROWS -something we didn't even do when Rory Delap was with us. This sparked a bit of life into us, and we won some corners as Asoro on the left and Honeyman on the right gave Reading problems, but Vito was largely untroubled. Somehow the ref found six more minutes of potential misery, which, to be fair, we had the better of - but to no effect.
1-3, and no more than we deserved. We needed much more energy in central midfield, and we needed much more closing down up front. Reading must be laughing their socks off that miserable interpretation of total football was so effortlessly effective. It's Paul McShane, for goodness sake, not Franz Beckenbauer.
Man of the Match? A toss-up between Asoro, who gave us twenty minutes of strangely entertaining differentness, or Honeyman, who gave us ninety minutes of honest, and decent, graft. Honeyman it is.
Welcome to Sunderland, Chris.
ALS T Shirts click here