Carl von Clausewitz once said attack is the best form of defence though that only works in the Premier League if you have a decent back four to start off with. Sadly for most of this campaign we have been sorely lacking in that department. Yesterday’s defensive performance and composure against Manchester City is the type of showing we need to see every week to make sure the unthinkable doesn't happen and we stay up.
With the reign of Gus Poyet well underway, albeit (hopefully) not in its hay day, it would only be customary to review the rabble which he succeeded. Paolo Di Canio’s short yet radical period in charge of Sunderland definitely brought with it massive change – as the Italian promised - in the club's philosophy and how it was ran. Opinion on Di Canio, however, has much divided us fans ever since his name was mentioned in relation to the vacant post all the way back in April. There are ways in which the management aided the club and those which contributed heavily to the current, unsavoury situation…
The epic 1973 FA Cup victory has long been written into the annals of history. Sadly it is so distant that the majority of current fans were not even born or too young to appreciate the full scale of the achievement. Although I was fortunate enough to attend the heroic final, there is also a particular game I remember in the cup run against Manchester City, who were favourites after knocking Liverpool.
It would be pretty easy, in the heat of emotion following Sunday’s almost stereotypical Sunderland meltdown, to dismiss Lee Cattermole. The same Cattermole that many of us have lauded this season for perhaps being the one player who was up for this relegation dogfight. Most footballers have their pros and cons – but which outweigh the other?
Well, that was certainly fun but now we have got to face up to the stark reality once more that we are still stuck in the rut of a relegation battle. It would be pretty ludicrous of me to suggest this weekend’s game against Hull City is as important our win against the Mags – but it can’t be too far behind in the context of our season.
I think it is about time we dust ourselves down a little and try to shed a little perspective on the aftermath of 2-1. With that in mind, I had a bit of a think about three things which were huge encouragements to me and three things which get the pessimism flowing once more.
Whilst we are still revelling on our tremendous derby win – there is another football match to think about as Sunderland take on former gaffer Steve Bruce’s Hull City. Andy from the Tigers’ former fanzine and most established website Amber Nectar (@Amber__Nectar) kindly took the time answer a few questions on Sunderland, Bruce, their season and a match of huge importance for both clubs.
So we beat the Mags and it was incredible. Now this should kick start our season and help catapult us up the table – right? Well, let’s have a quick look at what history tells us…
One of the key tasks for Guy Poyet is to bring some semblance of stability at Sunderland. His challenge is all the greater with more than a third of the 27-man squad he inherited facing uncertain futures even before his arrival.
Before a ball was kicked this season, Niall Quinn hit the nail on the head when querying whether Paolo Di Canio has the right interpersonal credentials to make Sunderland succeed. “The big question mark is over Di Canio's man-management skills. Will he be able to get the players he has kept to gel with the many new signings he has brought in during the summer? That is a big ask because, make no mistake, the Premier League will punish weaknesses”.