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post hull craic
bruce is still fat

Sunderland’s turbulent start to the week was eased as they claimed a point in a 1-1 away draw at Hull. Dame N’Doye put the homeside ahead early in the first half and Jack Rodwell rescued the visitors deep into the second half.

Gus Poyet praised both his players and his staff after a difficult start to the week on Wearside, and a battled point in Hull. He said: "It was a difficult game; very competitive with plenty of incident, but I think we played well. We needed to be strong and solid. Unfortunately we conceded a cheap goal, it was a strange free kick to say the least, but after that we didn’t give up. I’m very pleased with the players, they knew how important the game was and they played accordingly, it’s a point on the board. We started the second half well and the substitutions changed the game; being in the stands gave me the opportunity to see things from a different point of view and we made different decisions because of that. Ricky [Alvarez], Connor [Wickham] and Patrick [van Aanholt] all did extremely well when they came on; it was a team effort today.

"My staff also worked very hard and I’m pleased as I had to rely on them today, Tanno, Beas, Charlie and Antonio did very well. Patrick made a great cross for our goal and after that it was all about the finish; if you compare the two goals ours had much more quality. I’d say it’s a well-earned point. It was important that I went down to thank the fans at the final whistle. I thought they were magnificent. When we were losing one-nil they were the only fans in the ground making any noise. It didn’t sound like we were losing; you would have thought the home side were losing. Then after the goal we completely dominated the stands and the fans deserved to have that goal to celebrate."

Poyet, who kicked a bucket full of water bottles before getting into a scuffle with Steve Bruce during the match, had this to say about the incident in question: "I was sent off for kicking the bucket. The bottles coming out of the bucket didn't help me. I know it doesn't look good but it's nothing to worry out. I prefer that than saying something I would regret. I'm old fashioned. What happens on the pitch stays on the pitch. There are no problems for me at all."

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ALS Blog
By Melanie Dudley

One thing I think we can all agree upon is that life as Sunderland fan is never dull or boring. But, boy what I wouldn’t do for a drama free season and a bit of mid table mediocrity!

Tonight we play Hull; it won’t take me to remind everyone that our success against the “pastie eater” has not been good. Bruce appears to be able to rally his boys and get them fired up to play well against us. Based on our previous half a dozen games, our performance does not bode well to see a wind change.

Couple the above with the news that one of our strongest players won’t be in attendance, I have no idea if this will be a “war cry” that we really must win or a collapse of any remaining confidence within the team.

There will no doubt be endless so called “jokes and jibes” relating to the suspension from other fans. This leads me to believe that there has never been a more important time as far as I can remember for each and every one of us to get behind the lads.

We can whinge and whine about how/why we find ourselves in the position we are in. I understand the fear about potential relegation, but, we are not there yet and it isn’t over till it’s over!  

I am willing a win tonight for the lads, the club and our great fans – I still believe we are in a fighting chance. Get your Sunderland roaring at the ready and will with me!

Melanie

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ALS PREVIEW...
By SAM LIGHTLE

It seemed to be the inevitable result. Losing to Man United was probably always going to happen but it’s frustrating in the circumstances in which it happened. Was Wes Brown the right man to send off? Well, clearly not. It should’ve been John O’Shea. We all know that.That said, it was a silly penalty to give away and yet another mistake that handed United an easy breakthrough. Despite, never threatening in the second half, we have to be pleased with our efforts. We created a few half chances in the first half but Gus Poyet was right by saying we were too defensive in the second period. That was ultimately the first nail in the coffin. As well as that with Adam Johnson suspended by the club pending the outcome of this police investigation - as a club, team and fans we need to come together to really urge the team on.

Hull meanwhile lost to Stoke on Saturday, but face two crunch fixtures against us and Leicester, while we entertain Aston Villa after our trip to the Tigers. Definitely, important matches for all the teams concerned.   

So with that in mind how can we beat Hull?

Bruce always targets Lee Cattermole. His tactics against us are never more complicated than getting Catts booked and then they have us on the ropes. It’s that simple. When we played them on Boxing Day, they got lucky. We should've had a penalty and we were unlucky with the first goal that took an awful bounce over Costel Pantilimon in goal. But the best way to beat Hull is not to over complicate the way we play. We need to move the ball quickly and look to get it out wide. When it’s in the middle it becomes too congested and we often lose possession, that’s why we need to spread our play. Also Ahmed Elmohamady is always up for playing against us, despite how shite he actually is. He offers some pace down their right hand side so Patrick van Aanholt will need to make sure he doesn’t get caught out when he pushes forward.  

Previous history

It’s a sorry state of affairs when a team managed by Steve Bruce beats you. It’s even worse when they’ve won the last four. However, prior to that we’d won all six of our meetings dating back to 2006.

Key player

Hull - Mohamed Diame

The former West Ham midfielder has been an important player in Bruce’s side this season. The Senegalese has scored four goals from midfield and after we failed to track Leroy Fer and Ki Sung-Yeung’s runs from deep - we must learn from our mistakes this time round.

Sunderland - Lee Cattermole

As I mentioned earlier, Catts is always targeted by Bruce because he knows he can provoke a reaction out of him. But Cattermole is maturing into a really good player and I think we have to give him a lot of credit for that, let’s hope he can continue that here as he’s a really effective player when he’s on form for us.

ALS Prediction:

Hull 1 v Sunderland 1

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oH sUNDERLAND...
I want bRUCE'S HEAD ON A PLATTER

It never rains it pours, we do not have time to dwell on AJ’s situation, he’s suspended, forget about him and concentrate on what is a vital couple of games. Gus Poyet has said he will not water down Lee Cattermole’s desire and aggression, and why should he? Everyone lauds Diego Costa for it despite his disciplinary  problems: “We didn’t talk about it [when he returned from injury], or ask him to play a different way. He needs to play the game at his best, and that means he needs to be Lee Cattermole. As everybody knows, he has had plenty of yellow cards but he has been good on the other side – the red cards. I think these games are special and you need to play at a certain level of aggression – but controlled aggression. I cannot see a game between Sunderland and Hull without any yellow cards or strong tackles. That would be very strange. I would think ‘hmm, something is wrong here’. Let’s hope it’s not Lee, but if it is him then the rest of the squad needs to be there because when you are in the situation where we are, and you need to compete, you cannot always guarantee making every tackle perfectly, every time.”

Poyet, like the rest of us, just wants a normal game against Potato-Heed’s side (and a win too please, Gus): “I just want a normal game against Hull. I don’t think we have had one normal game against them in my time here. We had two red cards against them, scored an own-goal and our goalkeeper got injured in my first game, then we had Wes Brown sent-off against them after five minutes at home, then we made two terrible mistakes to give the cup game away, and then in the last game at home we were 1-0 up and we conceded a goal to an awkward bounce, and then had two penalty claims turned down. There’s always something against Hull and, at the moment, luckily for them and [boss] Steve Bruce everything has gone their way. As a minimum, I just want a normal game, and then the better team will win.”

“We want to play this game like the last game of the season. We need to win tonight and then we can be ready for Aston Villa. That’s the mentality we need to achieve now. Forget about the progression in terms of the way we want to play. We’re going to give that a little bit of a break until we can take points and get away from the teams at the bottom. This is a key moment and that’s why we’re going to have play in a very special manner. We’re depending on this game to change the season around. We need to pick a proper team – men, powerful players fit enough to play 90 minutes. Maybe there’s going to be a couple of changes, but not too many because we need to respect our shape and the way we’ve been trying to play. Apart from that, it’s going to be an intense game and it’s easier when you start well. I think we need to start strong. The style of Hull and the nerves in this important game for both teams is going to make it very competitive. We need to win the battles, be stronger than them and be better than them. If there’s one chance each way, we need to make sure that we score it. No mistakes, no red cards, everything needs to be on our side. At the end of the game, we need to tick all the boxes. I said the other day, that it’s time. We need to be better. There are no excuses,” the boss added.

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Adam Johnson Arrested...
on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16

Adam Johnson has been arrested, interviewed by Durham Police and then released on bail, on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16. AJ has also been suspended by SAFC.

A Sunderland AFC spokesman said: “We can confirm that Adam Johnson has been suspended from the club, pending the outcome of the police inquiry. No further comment will be made at the present time.”

A Durham Police spokesman said: “A 27-year-old man was arrested early today on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under the age of 16. He remains in police custody and is helping officers with their inquiries.”

AJ's very supportive mother in law had this to say: "Stacey and Adam are still very close and absolutely still together. He is 100 per cent innocent and we will stand by him. He hasn't been found guilty of anything. He is a great lad and has not done anything wrong. This is just a horrible situation."

A neighbour of AJ's, who was clearly being nosey all day, said: “All the main activity was between 9.15am and 9.35am. Three undercover cars and a scenes of crime van arrived. You could tell they were police officers; they were all dressed in black. I haven’t seen him all day. I just assumed there had been a burglary. As far as I know he lives there with his girlfriend.”

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wes' red rescinded…
and available for the trip to Hull

Following an appeal by SAFC, the red card shown to Wes Brown during Saturday’s game against Manchester United has been rescinded by an FA panel and he will now be available for the trip to Hull City. Although having said that, Gus Poyet very rarely plays Brown twice in a week because of his general fitness.

I’m very pleased and I’m delighted with the honesty of the process,” said Gus Poyet. “The FA knew that a mistake had been made and it has been corrected in the right way, so I’m delighted with the decision. Since Wes has come back he's shown how important he is for us and how committed he is, so it would have been a shame not have to him available for tomorrow’s big game.”

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alS BLOG…
By Melanie Dudley

At the start of last season, I remember vividly having my head in my hands at Selhurst Park when we suffered a humiliating defeat with Paulo at the helm. Change came and there will be many arguments whether Paulo was given enough time, however, I felt very positive that Gus could (and still do) make a difference. However, I am sat here at the beginning of March wringing my hands yet again that we are flirting dangerously close to relegation.

Saturday’s match was a farcical debacle yet again and I do not mean the referee’s lack of ability to identify two (very different looking) men! We have made an investment in Defoe yet, didn’t play a full game. Tactical changes to change the dynamic of the game way too late and if I am really honest, I am not sure it would have made much of a difference. As a team, they seem to lack any real pride, passion or desire to win.

So, how do we move forward, I am sick of the sound of my own voice uttering the words “this is a must win game”. The games this year have simply been shambolic, I am struggling to remember the last time the team played well in one game and the next, our inconsistency other than own goals is staggering.

I am bewildered as to what the right answer is, I do not believe that the screams of “get Gus out” is the answer, we have been there and done that with booting managers/head coaches out. On paper, we have some great players in Alvarez, Pants, PvA, Reveilliere yet, we appear to have a number of good players that are unable to play together as a team. In addition, whilst Catts has his critics, it is evident that he has been a big miss and I am not convinced he is fully fit.

Today I booked my flights and tickets for the derby over the Easter weekend, based on what has unfolded over this year, the prospect of what could happen strikes fear in my heart!

We have eleven games remaining and some of those have potential to be brutal. I so want to believe and keep the faith, however, right now, our only saving grace looks like a handful of teams below simply won’t be able to do enough.

How many more seasons do us as fans have to deal with when our only strategy to remain in the EPL appears to be hope?

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all sorts going on…
Please beat Bruce for once

So it turns out we have appealed Wes Brown’s red card at the weekend, you can only hope the authorities will see put things right rather than hide behind hastily-made up excuses. Gus Poyet has talked about his decision to appeal it: “It’s tough, it’s tough. The problem we have lately in football, and I’m not just talking about us, is after the game we’re talking about a bad decision. We’re not talking about a game where we did well but didn’t pass the ball well enough in the second half so we were defending all the time. Something always happens. If he gives the penalty, which apparently was a penalty – I just saw one quick moment and John is sent off – then perhaps we would not be talking about anything apart from the game afterwards. “Wes is confused because the referee said he sent him off because he made contact with Falcao but he didn’t. That’s the problem. He sent him off for something that didn’t happen. It was nothing to do with John. I want to be fair with players,” he said. “I watched it on the computer on the way back to analyse everything. We have to wait as well for the report, although it needs to be as quick as possible with another game on Tuesday.”

We’ve appealed the sending off on the grounds of wrongful dismissal and not mistaken identity so if it is rescinded both John O’Shea and Brown will be available tomorrow.

Poyet also admitted he’d made an error of judgement against United (a bit like the referee to be honest) and he has said the team has to win their next two games: “We needed to make sure we improved a few things in the second half, but we didn’t and that’s why we needed to make a change. I left it too late. We needed someone to go in behind. We didn’t have enough power going forward and Danny Graham was going to give us that. We were ready, the change had already been decided when the penalty happened and that changed the game. One minute before and one minute after was the difference between us conceding a goal. I was disappointed with the first 20 minutes of the second half. Maybe, at that time, the players were just thinking about defending to get a result. For 15 minutes, I was delighted – everything we talked about in the week, knowing how they were playing, was working well. We started as we planned. We were aggressive. We broke with danger and had a couple of great opportunities to make the difference. When you have those chances at Old Trafford, you need to take them.”

“Tomorrow and in two weeks time against Villa it’s not about style, it’s not about passing. It’s about winning and it’s time. There’s a moment when you need to take your chances and win football games somehow and for us that time is right now. We’re going to play the best team to win the game. Something always happens against Hull. I just hope we’re not talking about another refereeing decision tomorrow night,” Poyet added.

Elsewhere, Patrick van Aanholt gave his reflections on the game: “The red card killed the game. It’s always hard when you go down a man, but we tried our best, tried hard. We went there for the three points and, to be fair, we started the game very well. We had the chance with Connor. If we’d finished that, it’s a different game. The gaffer said to go there with a gameplan and we did that very well in the first half. We were the better team for the first 20 minutes and, after that, we kept our team shape and looked good. But the second half was totally different after the red card. We all did our jobs in the first half, but you’ve got to do that in the second half as well. We were still 0-0 before the penalty and were still doing well. Of course, when you’re down a man, they’re going to press you high. That’s what they did and got the second goal. We’ve got to move on and focus on tomorrow night.”

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league cup final…
one year on

Today marks a year since the Capital One Cup final, but unfortunately we're stuck in Sunderland this year, never mind. Back in the real world, Gus Poyet has reflected on our defeat against Man Utd and his words aren't as scathing as they have been in recent post-match interviews, although he does have a subtle go at the referee. Standard. He said: “It was a very decent start from us, everything was going to plan and we did well, creating a number of chances through Connor [Wickham] and Jermain [Defoe] and we held United. After that we dropped off a little too much; we defended too much and stopped creating chances. There were too many actions to defend. And when that is the case you concede a goal, and of course for us the penalty was the turning point of the game. We needed to readjust after going down to 10 men and it changed how we could play. After that we needed to stay in the game, but we couldn’t cope after losing a player and United took their chance. For long spells we defended really well today and we need to take that into the next two games and build on it. Now is our time to do that. When I saw Falcao get past the defenders and hit the ball wide I was delighted, but then I saw the referee give a penalty and then everyone was gathered around and talking. On the bench we weren’t sure who had made the foul."

Anthony Reveillere was more direct about the penalty decision, admitting that it had a massive effect on the game: “The penalty decision and the red card made it very difficult to get something from the game. It all hinged on the first goal and the red card was unfortunate because our defender was just trying to get in there and nick the ball, but Falcao managed to get himself in a good position to protect the ball and yes there was a bit of contact. “In the first half were created chances so perhaps we could have taken something from the game, but we suffered a little in the second period and we struggled to get the ball out of our area. The penalty-decision was a double blow because of the goal and the red card, and it is a shame because it meant we couldn’t take something from the game."

The professional referee's governing body has bizarrely defended the decision of Roger East. They said: “As he thought Brown made a foul on Falcao as he was in the act of shooting, he dismissed Brown.” What a load of tripe. Poyet had a subtle go at the referee by saing: “The referee told the players there were two fouls, one by John O’Shea and one by Wes Brown. I have seen the replay and Wes Brown did not touch anyone. He said he gave the penalty for Brown’s foul but how can you give a penalty for something that didn’t happen, never mind send the player off?” Bizarre.

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post man utd craic…
REACTION

Sunderland lost 2-0 away at Man Utd after a deconstruction in the second half where the biggest talking point will no doubt be the referee somehow confusing John O'Shea and Wes Brown. John O'Shea committed the infringement, but Brown was shown the red card. Rooney tucked away the penalty and scored another later on to extend Sunderland's winless run. We didn't play too badly, but style matters not in a league competition.

Gus Poyet had this to say about the performance: "It was a very decent start from us, everything was going to plan and we did well, creating a number of chances through Connor [Wickham] and Jermain [Defoe] and we held United. After that we dropped off a little too much; we defended too much and stopped creating chances and trying to pass and control the ball. There were too many actions to defend and when that is the case you concede a goal, and of course for us the penalty was the turning point of the game. We needed to readjust after going down to ten men and change how we could play. [On the red card and penalty] When I saw Falcao get past the defenders and hit the ball wide I was delighted, but then I saw the referee give a penalty and then everyone was gathered around and talking, on the bench we weren’t sure who had made the foul. After that we needed to stay in the game, but we couldn’t cope after losing a player and United took their chance. For long spells we defended really well today and we need to take that into the next two games and build on it. Now is our time to do that.

Gus Poyet has admitted that it is his personal mission to ensure that Jack Rodwell is a success at Sunderland. The £10m midfielder has been a flop so far, in a team much in need of a creative centre midfielder, with the player's price tag being fans main gripe. Poyet said: “I’m really looking forward to making sure it works (for him). It’s like a challenge personally. He’s one of my signings and I’m really trying hard for him for it to work out. But we need him fully fit, that’s the main thing. We need him now. He had a great, great chance to play last weekend (against West Brom). It was a game that we knew how West Brom were going to play, but we needed presence and stature in there. Jack gives you a lot of that - getting in the box and trying to score goals. We need him this year. We have to make sure that when he’s coming back now, he’s coming back for the rest of the season, rather than just one game and then being out again. That’s a challenge. But we’re still getting to know the players and how they react to certain things. I’m not even thinking about next year. The only one I’m thinking about for next year is (Emanuele) Giaccherini.”

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