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Match day thread: Sunderland

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  • Oh to have the league table back from before the Oxford game. A horrible run of form against teams around us and it is now an incredibly tight top half. Just 8 points separating everyone.

  • @thecatwwfc said:

    I think it's also worth noting that a bit of luck has got us where we are. Last minute goals/penalties/refereeing decisions...I know that we can't rely on that to get us results but fact is that is has, and that seems to have dried up a bit in recent weeks.

    Not only luck in that direction but opponents were not taking opportunities against us either. Both elements of that "luck" have reversed, predictably.

    That said, having just got back, that was an utterly cack performance. Stewart had an absolute 'mare, Charles looked an old man, the midfield did nothing to protect the back four nor to assist the attack. Wheeler started very well and showed up strongly when he had the chance and Samuel buzzed with remarkable perseverance (and an occasional efficacy that showed that Sunderland were by no means invulnerable) but cannot hit a barn door at zero paces. Smyth may as well not have been on the pitch. What bugged me the most was the apparent lack of communication and/or understanding between the players with the consequent frittering of possession. SO many times, possession was conceded cheaply, often in dangerous positions, the free kick for the last goal being exhibit A. Against Oxford, Coventry and Sunderland, we have looked to me like a team unlikely to score and one likely to concede multiple times. Context be damned - that was a very long way to go to watch such a second-rate performance and, for once, I feel like a bit of a vent - we look like a team likely to be relegated, not promoted.

  • PS. The applause in the 13th minute was resounding and almost universal right around the ground. Very touching and greatly to the credit of the Sunderland fans. Thank you.

  • @chairboyscentral said:
    Over the season, Sunderland are only six points behind us with a game in hand, so they are one we should be worried about, plus they've come into great form lately.

    I get that, but I meant in terms of what I've SEEN over the season and from when we played them at home. I guess most teams have said that about us too...

  • It's hard to keep any sense of gravity when you've been top for so long, and it would be amazing to leap to the Championship given the opportunity - but let's not forget that we had 11 players turn up to the first day of pre-season training. A considerable amount of the players that started for us during our hot streak, also played during our terrible run at the start of 2019.

    Us being top wasn't the norm, wasn't the way things were meant to go, so let's not overreact. Finishing in the playoffs would be a ridiculous overachievement.

    It's a poor loss when compared to the way we usually perform against top teams, and how Gaz usually figures out a game plan for the big matches.

    Our back four today featured 2 players that played for us in league 2, one that is conference south level, and one that was retired 8 months ago.

    Never too high, never too low.

  • Ten games in League One (which haven't all been full ones and in three of which he's played out of position) and Phillips is "Conference South level"?

  • @chairboyscentral said:
    Ten games in League One (which haven't all been full ones and in three of which he's played out of position) and Phillips is "Conference South level"?

    Might it be fair to suggest he's looking a bit short of the necessary at the moment?

  • edited January 12

    That would be fair, but he's out of position and it's extremely premature to relegate a young player three divisions. He played well early in the season, including at right-back at Fleetwood funnily enough. Today sounds like the first time he's truly had a mare.

  • Ahh, my bad - I thought he was the kid from Dulwich.

    And he did play well at Fleetwood. But poorly against Coventry, and badly today. So perhaps, I wasn't that far off.

  • Mascoll has played far fewer games than even Phillips, but yeah he was at Dulwich before/on loan from Charlton.

  • Cheers for understanding the mistake

  • It's hard to justify keeping Aarons if you're not going to bring him on when 3-0 down against a team he should be extra motivated to score against. I assume a decision has already been made to send him back.

    It's also hard to see why we started with two unfit defensive midfielders, relegating one of our strongest performers of this torrid Xmas period to the bench. I really hope Ofoborh is NOT being returned to sender.

    I'm glad to see we went 442 after 30 minutes. I've always believed we play better in that system - and if we're going to persist in total longball football for the rest of the campaign, a combo of two of Bayo, Kashket, Samuel and Parker should be enough. Then we've got Wheeler, Fred, Freeman and Smyth on the wings. And four central midfielders on the books in Gape, Thompson, Ofoborh and Bloomfield.

    I'd be very keen to see some decent defensive cover brought in in return for Aarons - but if there's a marquee loan option available for a central striker I'd be very appreciative of that option being taken up, especially with Kashket likely to be out for some time in the near future.

    One thing is for certain - the better teams in the league have worked out how to exploit our lack of width - and now the worse teams know exactly what to replicate to do the same. We will need to shake things up to stay in play off contention. It will be interesting to see if Gareth has learnt the lesson from previous mid-season slumps and changes formation. He's a better manager every season and says he does learn from his errors. One point in 15 means it's time to go back to the drawing board.

  • Whoever it was that said Twitter is an idiot's playground...yeah, that - the old 'tactically inept' comment has come out.

  • Sounds like Aarons is off (Neil Harman has been embedded with the squad for a book he's writing)

  • Who is Neil Harman?

  • @HCblue Former national paper journalist, currently writing a book on Wycombe. I met him at the Pompey game, nice bloke.

  • edited January 12

    Thanks. Thought I recognised the name. Any idea why he chose this particular subject for the book?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Harman

  • @thecatwwfc said:

    @micra I apologise if I came across confrontational. That's not my intention at all. Emotions flying high. I stand by what I said though, 1 point in 15 is relegation form to say the least and judging Sunderland over the season, they aren't really one of the teams we should be worried about (albeit a former top flight side).

    I think it's also worth noting that a bit of luck has got us where we are. Last minute goals/penalties/refereeing decisions...I know that we can't rely on that to get us results but fact is that is has, and that seems to have dried up a bit in recent weeks.

    Apologies unnecessary @thecatwwfc.
    I am very much in agreement with your comments, both during the match and subsequently. My reaction during the match reflected the sinking feeling I had as those three goals went in and my fears for the way I had rather expected the game to pan out were very quickly realised. It was the timing, that’s all, and I hope there is no residual ill-feeling between us.

  • @HCblue said:
    Thanks. Thought I recognised the name. Any idea why he chose this particular subject for the book?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Harman

    He and GA are friendly, going to the same church. GA actually agreed to the book before the investment, when we looked odds on for relegation. It will be a much more fun read now, thankfully!

  • I don't mind seeing us lose (I am used to that).... I don't mind us shipping 4 goals (I got used to that againt Coventry)....its the lack of passion and desire that was totally unacceptable yesterday. That's unforgivable, regardless of how the season has gone as a whole. The first half was a genuine embarrassment and calls for a sense of perslomiss the point entirely. The first half (in particular) was completely unacceptable in my opinion

  • "passion and desire"

    I see it's greatest hits sunday on the gasroom

  • Easy to forget we sometimes got tonked and had runs of bad form under O'Neill, even in our greatest seasons and these same criticisms surfaced then.

  • So the formerly underperforming club awash with money and expensive signings beat the small, far less wealthy club which had been on an unbelievable good run? Finishing in the top half of a league we almost got relegated from last season will be a major disaster. The manager is clueless and the players lack skill and passion. There was a small boy crying at the Coventry game...he will never be back.Relegation looms for the tactically inept who have been riding their luck. Have I covered it All?

  • @Wendoverman You forgot to scapegoat a player who had no part in the result.

  • I think that just about sums it up @Wendoverman. But, if a small boy feels strongly enough about a defeat to weep, he’ll definitely be back.

  • @Wendoverman said:
    So the formerly underperforming club awash with money and expensive signings beat the small, far less wealthy club which had been on an unbelievable good run? Finishing in the top half of a league we almost got relegated from last season will be a major disaster. The manager is clueless and the players lack skill and passion. There was a small boy crying at the Coventry game...he will never be back.Relegation looms for the tactically inept who have been riding their luck. Have I covered it All?

    I get that people shouldn't be so disheartened. However, do you not see the side that thinks it would be such a shame to throw this away? I don't think ANYONE is questioning that it's not been a good season. What we are saying is, we were clear at the top having lost 1 game in about 23...so to go on this sudden dip rings a few alarm bells. I realise that we have no right to be top, but wouldn't it be such a shame to throw it away now?? To achieve the unexpected, we need a couple of players.

  • @Wendoverman’s subtle irony and highly individual slants are a delight and should not be taken too literally.

  • @thecatwwfc - I vaguely recall attending a meeting regarding the proposed sale where the Couhigs said their aim was to get into the Championship, but not until the necessary infrastructure was in place. Does anyone else recall this, or am I remembering a meeting with the earlier two Americans?

  • Or indeed, seriously.

  • I don't think anyone here isn't disappointed with recent results but I think one thing they've maybe shown us is we're perhaps not ready for promotion yet.

    Look at Luton - the team that got them promoted last year was probably better than our team this season and yet they can barely cope in the Championship; with our financial limitations could we even consider coping against clubs like Sheff Weds, leeds, Fulham etc? There is an argument that our play-off season defeat benefited us in the long term - we were better prepared for L1 after a couple more seasons of Ainsworth's squad/ethos building. With more financial stability now, we should be looking to keep building on what we have and keep aiming to go higher. Slow and steady wins the race isn't a mantra much favoured in football, but it's worked for us over the last few seasons.

    That isn't to say I wouldn't be in seventh heaven should we go up this year, but nor would I be completely gutted if it doesn't work out this time round.

    I'm less upset about this current (short) run of poor form than I was about losing the FA Cup replay.

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