There comes a time when writing about Sunderland becomes far from enjoyable, or even tolerable. Today was that day - or rather yet another of them. New manager, same old shite, as we fell 2-1 to a Sheff U side that were far from clever- but way cleverer than us.
The International break, instead of being a welcome break from getting whupped (recent results excepted) like the last few seasons, or an irritant because we'd just embarked on a decent run (aye, I know), but as a welcome break from the sheer volume of football. August had brought us seven competitive games, five of them away, and the madness that is the transfer window - in which we spent 47p. Anyhow, it's over, and with another three players we'd heard of arriving for a combined fee of nowt. One of them even drove from Cardiff to seal the deal, which at least shows commitment, and all three - like the majority of Grayson signings - arrive with something of a point to prove, whether it be to get a stuttering career off to a start, or to revive a career that once promised much. Best of luck to them anyway.
I couldn't wait for the break to be over, obviously, and my final "ticking-over" game was Bishop against West in the battle of the Aucklands. Bishop down near the bottom after shipping goals as if they were sponsored to do so, and West flying high at the top of the Northern League. What did we get? A hatful of bookings, a red card, two penalties (one saved), seven goals including a late equaliser by West to make it 3-3 and a last-gasp winner fro the home side. Three times the usual number of paying customers, and blood and guts for the entire 90+ minutes. Just to remind you what football is supposed to be about.
Wilson Kone Browning
Honeyman Ndong Rodwell Williams Galloway Vaughan Grabban
Many apologies in advance, but this isn't going to make pretty reading. While Ndong and Williams buzzed about in the middle, and Wilson looked sort of solid alongside Kone -a surprise choice as captain- , there was no purpose to our play. Having said that, we were reasonably on top and looking sort of comfy when we got into a good attacking position with a dead ball. I think my exact words were "dont bugger this up". But they did, swift on the break as they cleared it, and away they went down our vulnerable left. Bang, shot beneath Ruiter's left arm. Could have done better, I thought.
As for the rest of the half, that was about it. Grabban went sort of close with an overhead kick, but we spectacularly failed to trouble their keeper. An added minute, a failure to build anything, and nothing to keep the fans interested.
Kone failed to reappear, with O'Shea replacing him and we still struggled to show any appetite or shape. Three across the back clearly wasn't working but Grayson chose not to change the formation. He did sort of try, replacing Grabban with McManaman, but despite a lot of effort, we created nowt. It didn't help that Grabban's idea of challenging for the ball was to hide behind the defender, and a like for like swap of Gooch for Honeyman brought little relief.
When they popped away the second with 15 to go, many took their chance to leave.
"Is their a fire drill?" They asked. No, that lot wouldn't make a good fire.
Much faffing about, all to little or no effect, and they found, from somewhere, an extra five minutes as we were screaming for the ref to just end it all. Gooch slung in a free from deep on the right and Rodwell, in a moment of the utmost irony, rose highest to nod it home.
As my old Sunday morning captain, John Raine, would have said - abysmal, atrocious, appalling. And it was.
Man of the Match? Of a bad, very bad, bunch, Ndong and Williams did ok and Wilson was ok. Galloway was again very suspect, and the two forwards showed precious little flexibility. I'll give it to Williams, but overall it was very much a day to forget.
Keep the Faith? Sorry, but I'm losing it.
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