It is nice having a team in the league that gives you easy points every season. It's even nicer when they are your most fierce rivals. For the second time this calendar year their widespread threats and promises of 'revenge' for the 5 v 1 humiliation last Halloween proved unfounded as we picked up our first three points of the season.
Before I get into the game I'll comment on the performance of World Cup Final referee Howard Webb. As he demonstrated in that game, the biggest stage of all, he seems absolutely terrified to make big decisions.
First of all he totally missed an absolutely blatant handball on the goal-line by Sebastian Larsson. His assistant also missed it and suggested to Webb that it should be a corner. Larsson ran to the same assistant moments earlier and clearly told him that the ball hit him in the face. Despicable cheating - let's see if it provokes as much debate in the national media over the coming days that last weekâ€™s incidents vs Arsenal did..... Though Larsson/ Sunderland may not be significant enough. The home side should have been reduced to ten with a lot of time to go and Ameobi would have put us one up from the resulting penalty (he never misses!) Thankfully it didn't cost us anything in the long run, but it was not good enough.
Webb took the same approach with Cattermole as he did with De Jong in his awful World Cup Final display. His refusal to book him after two terrible first half tackles meant that the regularly banned midfielder was free to carry on his assaults of our players in the second half - Jonas taking the worst of them and Cattermole finally went into the book. Cattermole is an absolute liability for that lot - not just because of his regular bans but his foul on Jonas gave us the free kick that we scored from. He injured Beye and Barton for the long term the year that we went down and I fear that it's only a matter of time before he puts someone else out of the game for a long the long term. He would have been sent off by a referee who called what happened rather than constantly trying to appease the home fans.
The luckiest man on the park was Coloccini. Our captain could easily have spent the night in hospital following an absolutely brutal, cynical tackle from Bardsley. Slow motion replays show Bardsley look up at Colo a split second before going in hard with his studs up on Colo's planted leg. It's amazing that he didn't smash it. Webb, true to form, gave him a second yellow card - not the straight red that the tackle so obviously deserved. Bardsley will now pick up a 1 game ban rather than the 3 (minimum) that the foul deserved. Replays also showed Webb apparently picking up a comment in his ear piece before judging what had happened - shame he couldn't have done that on the penalty call. All in all it was a 0/10 performance for Howard. Fortunately for him the game was not on live TV.
Tim Krul won't enjoy many easier games than this one. A couple of routine saves were required and not a lot more.
Sunderland had quite a bit of early possession and territorial advantage but they offered little threat. I think I could play up front for Sunderland. Gyan's (a very poor manâ€™s Oba Martins) game involved taking ridiculous shots from anywhere and everywhere - most of them barely even reached Krul.
Colback started well and delivered one great pass early on but as the game progressed he faded like the rest of his team.
If this squad is the end result of Special Agent Brucies years in the job and mass player rotation policy, they aren't going to go very far. Steve Cram (celebrity fan) described Sunderland as having "an embarrassment of riches" earlier in the week - I suppose he got one part of that description right.
I've read many comments from Sunderland fans on various social networking sites claiming that they dominated the game. We had 6 shots on target to their 3.....
Our centre backs have been superb in these opening two games. Coloccini seems inspired by his new captaincy and is performing on an even higher plane than he was last season. Steve Taylor seems to be a natural fit alongside him too. Taylor is not every Newcastle supportersâ€™ favourite player but he has been consistently excellent since he returned to the side late last season.
Ryan Taylor has been asked to play out of position in two tough fixtures and so far he has not put a foot wrong. I mentioned in my match preview that he might lash in a free kick and he obliged with an absolute beauty! His set piece delivery is lethal and his angled, curling strike was worthy of winning any match.
Cabaye had another great game and was well up for it. Tiote started nervously but improved as the game went on and was immense in the final half hour. And, as ever, Jonas ran his heart out. He is another who cops a lot of stick but I'm a fan. It was an absolutely superb all-round team performance. The phenomenal away support were very proud of every one of the lads.
The mackems again began to leave in their droves with a significant amount of time to play (Sunderland 'til half time). It doesn't matter how many of our assets Ashley strips out of the club or how many Short brings in down the road (not that they're averse to selling their big players, their fans just don't acknowledge it as openly), we are still the gaffas in the North East.....
Our record from the past 38 Tyne/ Wear derbies stands at:
P38 W15 D16 L7 F60 A45 - can we play you every week?
Another thing that I loved yesterday was the sense of togetherness - before kickoff and again at full time every member of the playing staff and back room came over and acknowledged the fans with a real sense of passion and pride. I thought Johnny Carver was going to have a coronary he was so pumped up! And kudos to the backroom lad that Joey Barton persuaded to run the length of the pitch to the away supporters - he threw his shirt in displaying a physique that suggested he follows the Mike Ashley dietary plan. It was a comedy moment.
A few locals took pot shots at the buses as we departed but thankfully their aim with stones was about as accurate as Gyan's with a football so we got away unscathed to enjoy a few beers back up in Gods Own Country.
Thanks lads - I hope you all enjoyed your night as much as I did!
You can follow me on Twitter @MarcSDuffy for some football chat.
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