I continue to be frustrated and astonished in equal measure at the line ups and tactics of my team, if this was the norm I guess I would be happy with the point but like I said, we can play so much better than that and the continued reliance on Mama, who incidentally was probably the poorest of all the poor players on the night, is frightening. I think Pulis missed a trick in starting with the same XI that beat Arsenal, I’m always cautious of making so many changes when the team will have been flying high, instead Faye was rushed back and Fuller dropped which must have been a real kick in the teeth given how well he played.
Manager Rating – 5 – Poor selection from Tony, continued loyalty to the likes of Diao and Sidibe is getting beyond a joke now, Diao is far too inconsistent and Mama just isn’t the force he was. I fear the fact we are unbeaten in 2010 will only feed Pulis’ obsession in persisting with such selections. I'm now of the opinion that our progress this season may well have just been halted by a disappointing transfer window and that’s a massive shame.
Sorensen – 8 – Didn’t do much wrong at all, was happy to see him put in a decent performance in front of his old fans. Nice and steady in claiming the ball and taking charge and as always, more often than not had excellent positioning. I’m glad he now has the more realistic competition of Begovic and hope the Great Dane can pass on plenty of knowledge to the young Bosnian.
Huth – 7 – A solid enough game from Robert, again, looked much happier in the middle, assured on the ground but still quitre ‘handsy’ when marking which makes me nervous. Very lucky to escape giving away a penalty for handball..
Faye – 7 – For the time he was on the pitch, Abdoulaye did well, his little shimmy almost gave me a heart attack in the first 15 mins or so and is looking more like the player of last season. It was therefore a shame that the big man had to hobble off with a painful looking back spasm.
Shawcross – 7 – Ryan didn’t have his best game but won’t work much harder all season. His distribution wasn’t great and his well publicised jostling on another day could have seen us concede any number of penalties, he and Huth have a habit of doing it and sure we get away with it for the most part but all it takes is a crackdown on the rules and we will be in trouble.
Higginbotham – 7 – A good game for Danny on his own return to the Stadium of Light, played better than he has done at left back and helped out his centre backs nicely. A good defensive away performance.
Whitehead – 8 – Man of the Match - Another good game from Deano, operating on the right this time and not looking uncomfortable either. Was lucky to stay on the pitch after an ill judged kick out at his replacement but for the rest of the game looked assured and most importantly, confident. So close to scoring too, he just needs a few more chances and a little more composure in front of goal and I’m sure he will add to his goal against Arsenal.
Whelan – 6 – Not Glenn’s best game, lots of blind passes and failed through balls, unfortunately for Glenn this lack of consistency after a good showing last week is the reason he sees the bench more often than the pitch
Diao – 5 – Salif is showing a bit more urgency of late since coming back into the side but I really don’t see him being a permanent fixture in the middle, not when Whitehead plays so well in that role. I fear with Pulis’ failure in the transfer market we will see more of the same.
Etherington – 7 – Poor Matty didn’t get much service and would clearly struggle given the hoof fest he saw above him. When he did get the ball he used it well and had a couple of decent runs, though backed out of a few 50/50’s but we’ll give him that given the season he has had so far.
Tuncay – 6 – Poor Tunny doesn’t seem to play too well with Mama, especially away from home, it’s incredibly frustrating to watch though not the Turk’s fault, he was also guilty of trying to do too much and was responsible for losing possession on more than once occasion. He was feeding off scraps and despite some cute back heals never really got stuck into the game. Please play him up front with Ric next week Tony..
Sidibe – 4 – Mama had a great game against Arsenal and fully deserved his start here but he just wasn’t winning the headers and whilst he is in the side we will see the aimless hoofing in his general direction and we mustn’t rely on that. The fact is Mama isn’t even doing the Mama role justice at the moment, not helping in midfield as much as he used to and for that alone, the role should be modified for Tuncay and Fuller to play together, it can work, it HAS worked.
Wilkinson – 5 – I was happy enough to see Wilko come on, he is dependable if nothing else but he was very poor, even doing the basics, every single clearance went straight to the foot of a Sunderland player and it was really frustrating to see him not have any other ideas for releasing the ball.
Delap – 6 – Didn’t do much wrong, didn’t do much right, if Delap is on the pitch it has to be in the middle, it’s painful seeing him foray onto the wing and attempt to run and beat a man.
Fuller – 8 – Just play him..play Ric and Tuncay together, I beg you.. Playing Ric means the ball stays up the field, that’s a fact, it sticks. The lift the team gets when Ric is on is clear to see and the look of fear in the opposition just as much so. It is criminal that he was left out after last week and even more criminal that we insist on not having our two biggest threats on the field at once.