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Sunderland AFC v southampton (h)...
sobs' blog

Brave boys keep their promises, They do do do do do do what they say
So why didn't we?

What sort of team wins 4-0 away then loses 4-0 at home? Our sort of team, unfortunately, and the manner in which we failed spectacularly to match the speed and movement, particularly in the second half, and especially in midfield, means that there's an awful lot to worry about.

When Defoe put out the message “why would I leave a club where I’m appreciated?” we of a Red and White persuasion breathed a sigh of relief and boasted smiles as wide as the Wear. Here was a player who could still be knocking them in for any team in the division, and he’s pledged his future to us. We know his age, but he plays with the energy and desire of someone fifteen years younger, and who’d bet against him carrying on for another couple of seasons. While Gareth Southgate is being pestered to get Andy Carroll into the England squad while no mention has been made of Defoe. Winning games is all about who you have available to do their job in a team. Carroll has six goals this season to Defoe’s fourteen, making the choice a no-brainer. Compare Defoe to the others in line for a game up front for the national side. Rashford, for all his youthful exuberance and natural ability, is still relatively inexperienced, even at league level. Wellbeck is likely to get injured warming up, and Sturridge does step-overs and Cruyff turns in the queue for breakfast - anything rather than get in a first-time shot. It’s about winning games, not dancing.

Anyway, enough of that. As if bringing three points from Palace, against Big Sam “dancing with eagles” Allardyce and Patrick van “I’ve moved to a bigger club with better players” Aanholt wasn’t nice enough, there was the hospital visit, unprompted by the club and entirely of their own volition. Seb, JOS, Vito, and Jermain were there to see Bradley Lowery, and that photo of the little fella asleep while cuddling Defoe was enough to restore your faith in humanity in general and football in particular. It’s a shame I couldn’t see the photo properly, as I had something in my eye at the time.

I also noticed that Djibril Cisse retired during the week –when I thought he’d just vanished into the sunset a while ago. Since leaving us, I think it’s fair to say that the Earl of Frodsham’s biggest moment was being the first celebrity sent home from France’s version of Strictly Come Dancing in 2015 – just ahead of his alleged involvement in a blackmail plot. Anyway, he scored against the Mags, we loved his fancy facial hair and his designer underwear, so good luck to him. Slightly away from Sunderland, it was very sad to hear of the passing of Mally Newton, who played more games than anyone else for Bishop Auckland – alongside his brother Dave and managed by his brother Brian. Mally did the league and cup double twice in the mid eighties and will forever be a true great of the non-league game.
Vito
Jones O'Shea Denayer Kone Oviedo
Seb Gibson Ndong
Januzaj Defoe

Kicking south in wet and a bit windy conditions, we had the better of the opening exchanges, winning a couple of corners but not making the large, but shaky looking Forster do anything of note. Kone took the right of defence and Denayer the left, with JOS in the middle and the fullbacks pushing forward. A great run by Januzaj from inside left took him into the box, but came to nothing.

We made our customary couple of awful mistakes at the back, but unusually weren't punished for them. The visitors had a couple of chances to cross from their left but we defended them well until they hit one early and it was met at the front post by Kone and Gabbiadini - and it flashed off a head past Vito. The Southampton man celebrated, but the lack if a name on the scoreboard hinted that it might have been our man's head that got the vital touch.

After that, we had our moments but still couldn't cause Forster problems. We seemed to be taking too long to make our passes, and right on 45 the visitors replayed our fourth from Palace. This time there was no doubt as to the scorer, as Marco's distant cousin turned and fired in. A single added minute that did us no good, and we were discussing which central defender would have to make way for a more attacking option. Of which we have few. 0-2 might have been a bit against the run if play, but of the very few shots in the half, they put two in and that's what counts.

Pienaar on for O'Shea was the attacking option that Moyes took when most of us numpties with no knowledge of the game would have opted for Khazri or Borini to bring a bit of pace to our game. Southampton came out of the blocks the quicker and won an early corner from which a volleyed shot at the back post was taken comfortably by Vito. Oviedo called for his gloves and we hoped they were PVA's goalscoring pair. Ndong continued to scurry about as he had in the first half, but was hampered by the fact that he kept losing his footing. With the visitors looking comfortable, Seb only lasted until the 57th minute when he was replaced by Bornin, who moved immediately to the right wing with Januzaj coming to the left. We had a bit of a moment when Ndong found Jones and he poked it through to Defoe, but unlike last week, he wasn't allowed to turn. That was on the hour, and Vito was called into action soon after when a swerving shot had to be dealt with.

There was another moment as Januzaj ran through in the inside left channel, but he was too weak when challenged and ended up on his arse. On 65 Ndong produced our first shot on target with an effort from distance. Pienaar was looking like a wasted substitution as he carried the ball well enough but showed no pace whatsoever, meaning that we were still far too slow to produce anything in the middle.

Southampton did us a favour by taking off Gabbindini, but spoilt it by bringing on Long with eighteen to go. Another of our attacks broke down and Vito had to tip a header over as the visitors broke with speed. We did win a free kick which Gibson floated in, and Kone won the header at the back post, but the ball was cleared. With ten to go, Gibson made way for Khazri, and at last we looked to have a bit of urgency about our play. He had a shot deflected fro a corner, from which Pienaar had a shot deflected for a corner, then Oviedo slung in a cross but Borini could only glance his header wide of the back post.

When they broke on 87 and banged in the third, most of those still in the ground got up and left, prompting the Saints fans to sing "we've got more fans than you." Three minutes were added, just to prolong the agony, and they popped in a fourth just to accentuate it.

An awful performance in which we were no match for an efficient but far from spectacular Southampton side.

Man of the Match? Probably Oviedo - at he looked like what he's supposed to be.

Keep the Faith Unity is Strength. Blah Blah

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