I've been watching Steven Fletcher with some interest over the last few weeks, trying to fathom whether he is unfit or something a little more serious. I feel like I'm treading on thin ice questioning a player so rightly held in high regard by us fans - but is he a victim or part of our problems?
There was something canny significant about Crystal Palace’s away victory with ten men which seemed to draw out our road to recovery to what feels a never ending length. I don’t necessarily think the result has made our survival any less palpable, perhaps it was better they did win, however seeing us slip back to the Premier League basement does hack away at the weary, old optimistic side of me. I hear a lot of people talk to me about how much easier we have things at home over the second half of the year which surely blind sights the difficulties we will face away from home.
It is rather ironic that the difference between Stoke City and Sunderland at the Britannia Stadium was largely Charlie Adam. Yes it is true that his over-the-top reaction helped to convince referee Kevin Friend to send off Wes Brown unjustifiably. Perhaps he deserves to be described as a cheat or much worse. But he was also arguably man-of-the-match for the victors and all but illustrates the calibre of a player the Black Cats are sadly lacking.
Sunderland tend not to turn loan deals into permanent ones, usually because the player is tosh or they play their way into the first team of their parent club via us. In fact, other than Ahmed Elmohammady, I am struggling to think of any players since our arrival back in the Premier League who have had their loan deal made permanent. Help me out if you can think of any!
Gus Poyet has voiced concerns over our current squad’s ability to ensure Premier League survival and reports suggest as many as five new players could arrive during the January transfer window. Yes, transfer malarkey has started already and this summer’s busy antics aren’t about to let up. The number of players is not exactly surprising, but it speaks volumes when coupled with Poyet’s reluctance to play most of our summer recruits.
Given the plight both of these men left us in, the war of words between Paolo Di Canio and Martin O’Neill should really infuriate me. Neither proportioning blame on themselves, rather each other and amongst club staff and players. To be honest, it reads more like a comedy sketch as two experienced men play handbags at dawn, both completely devoid of any blame for their complete underachievement as Sunderland boss. What a load of tosh.
We all have a love and/or hate relationship with statistics. Jack Colback’s recent links with a move to Everton has thrown into my mind pass completion statistics and how they generally get hoyed about whenever we talk about a player being good or bad. It seems so tangible that this correlation be black and white, especially for a central midfielder – but is it and how important is Colback and his passing to Sunderland?
I’ve never been one of those blokes who got lucky as a result of my devilish good looks with ladies swooning across a crowded dance floor. My limited success with women was mainly achieved through getting to know someone a bit first (friend of a friend, work) and then attempting to snare them into a date (…hmm, perhaps snare not the best word) snare charm them into going out with me by slowly, persistently grinding them into submission. Thus were the only meaningful relationships in my life born. The sudden exciting rush of the, let’s be honest, all too rare, one night stands haven’t left any indelible mark in my memory. And so it is with regards to the latest nascent relationship focusing my thoughts, between my beloved team and our new manager Gus Poyet.
It would be completely rude to overlook Niall Quinn rightfully receiving the freedom of the city. It underlines what has been almost a fairy tale relationship reminiscent of the most heartening of love stories and maybe gives just a tiny bit back to the Irishman we will be forever indebted to. As a player he oozed professionalism and class and as a man he oozed exactly the same.
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.