To be honest, this week I felt unmotivated to write about the unmitigated catastrophe that was Sunderland’s home game against the Cottagers on April 30. I feel like writing this update in the third person rather than the usual “us” and “we” report, so disconnected was the fan base to this performance, judging by the mass walkout from the SSOL at the end of the game – we can only take so much. I know that we have a injury list from “Nightmare on Elm Street” or “Friday the 13th” with bodies lined up in the treatment room rather than the morgue, and there will be an inquiry held by the CEO downwards at the club to find out went wrong this season, but this performance was unacceptable. There were two firsts in this game, Fulham’s first away win of 2011 and a first club goal from Kakuta in the 33rd minute after he was allowed to waltz through the home defence.
It is often said that the best form of defence is attack, and since we have no attack there was a feeling of inevitability once Fulham went ahead, and although there were some glimpses of hope in the first half, we ultimately failed to take our chances after good approach work. Shots on goal from Cattermole, Malbranque and Sessegnon went either wide or were dealt with by Schwarzer. So at least I got one half of the score right in my pre-match prediction, Sunderland’s nil in my 0-0 forecast…the Lads' second half display was gutless and the 2 goals from Simon Davies tells its own story.
I know Sessegnon is a useful player in attack and makes chances, but the “little and littler” combination of him and Malbranque was not a success, with no goals seen from Steed since the 4-1 win at Hull two seasons ago – he is a skilful midfielder but just not a finisher.
So what about today at Bolton? Further bad news for the the Black Cats who are set to be without midfielders Kieran Richardson and Lee Cattermole as well as defender Michael Turner for the final three games of the season. Richardson has a stress fracture in his left leg, Cattermole has a new back injury and Turner is suffering from another knee issue. Manager Steve Bruce commented “We've got about 11 players injured and 10 of them probably won't play again this season. We've just got to get on with it." There may also be some doubt about Henderson’s fitness.
There was talk of Nedum Onuoha providing a physical presence upfront, but that is unlikely now given Turner’s likely absence. I just hope that young striker Ryan Noble is fit enough to start, and we will look out for some interesting new names on the bench. The fans need those players still able to stand to stand up and be counted, to show doggedness, teamwork and togetherness, but to be honest, if we get anything out of today’s game it will be a welcome bonus.
©Lars J.S. Knutsen
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