After watching Saturday's Sunderland v Newcastle match here are the five things that I learned from the derby:
Newcastle United won’t go down, unfortunately. They may be tipped by some pundits for the drop but Newcastle will be a Premier League club come 2012/13. Well organised with definite talent in Tiote (who ironically had a bit of a stinker today) and Barton, they will be just fine. Although a lack of firepower will prevent them from finishing higher than lower mid-table.
Stéphane Sessègnon might well have the quickest feet in the Premier League but it counts for nothing if there is no end product. Last season was his chance to settle into English football, this year his game needs to deliver more assists and goals. Asamoah Gyan could help him in this by, like, looking interested, making runs and stuff. It’s the least you can expect from a £13m striker.
Ahmed Elmohamady certainly tries for Sunderland. He tries on the pitch and he tries my patience. He is willing, but Bruce made a mistake in starting him ahead of the likes of Gardener and Vaughan. Larsson should have started on the right with a shuffled midfield accommodating one or both of these.
Lee Cattermole is a waste at the Stadium of Light. Aside from the blatantly obvious observation he is a red card waiting to happen. The most problematic, erm, problem with Cattermole is that he is a total waste in matches you wish to dominate. He is great at Anfield or Old Trafford when it is backs against the wall, but at home against sides of a similar ability you want a central midfielder who can put their foot on it and dictate the tempo. Cattermole’s speed is permanently set at rushed and it does Sunderland no favours, especially at home.
We need Connor Wickham to come good and come good quick. It doesn’t even have to be as a front man initially. If we could bed him in on the left-wing it would free up Seb Larsson to go right and allow Sunderland to play Gardener centrally alongside the promising Jack Colback, David Vaughan, or (more likely) Cattermole. At present we are too rigid and lacking in any inspiration. Oh, and to round it off nicely we look a bit suspect defensively too.
I have no idea why Sunderland save their worst performances for derbies, maybe it’s to do with the personalities involved?
As an aside, well done Newcastle. After all their summer turmoil the unity Newcastle showed was impressive and, while they are a limited side, they will stay up in the table. I have no idea why Sunderland save their worst performances for derbies, maybe it’s to do with the personalities involved? Are the likes of Barton and Coloccini inherent winners whereas Anton Ferdinand and Kieron Richardson are born bottlers? It’s probably over-simplistic but what else explains our dismal derby days?
Anyway, as a sign off I still predict we’ll finish above the Mags come May for the fourth season in a row. Would I swap that for one or two days of derby glory? Probably, possibly, maybe, I don’t know. But for now I’m going to get depressingly drunk and I’ll leave the final word to the abusive Mags below. Cheers.
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