I was out celebrating my step-son’s birthday as the lads were (eventually) battling their way to a point on our very first visit to the Cardiff City Stadium. Checking my Twitter feed for updates I decided it was a lost cause at 2-0 down after around 75mins. A final check getting in the car home brought the surprising news that somehow we had managed to haul ourselves level for a vital point. Very un-Sunderland like this; first passing, now comebacks? What on earth is going on Gus?
Firstly, it’s worth reminding ourselves of just how incredible the Everton win was. Not that many Mackems need reminding but the context of our win against the blue half of Merseyside was that;
- · We are the only team to beat Everton at home in the league in 2013.
- · We had not won an away game this season.
- · We have gained a paltry 2 points from the last 11 league games at Goodison Park.
However, despite those key facts I think that the point gained at Cardiff was a bigger result for the lads than the three won at Everton. Here are seven reasons why:
1. We were awful for two-thirds of the game and still got something out of it.
2. It is the first point we have gained this season from a losing position, giving fans some hope and belief that a more positive attitude might be developing amongst the players.
3. We lost some of our key players to suspension (Wes Brown) and injury/illness (Adam Johnson, John O’Shea, Fabio Borini at half time) but still managed to get something from the game.
4. We were going nowhere and, not for the first time, the manager changed it successfully; two subs changed the game and scored the goals to get us something out of it. It bodes well that Gus seems to have a plan, which involves that novelty of passing the ball to your team mates, and a plan B for when it’s not working.
5. Our most (only?) natural goal scorer finally got on the score sheet again. A fit, confident Steven Fletcher starting games seems essential if we are to manage the great escape.
6. We extended our mini-revival to 5 games unbeaten (4 in the league) with some winnable games coming up. The longer we can keep the run going the more confidence the team and the fans
7. It was utterly demoralising for Cardiff. A newly manager-less club in disarray with a (how can we put it tactfully) ‘single-minded’ owner keen to do things his own way, Cardiff are now well and truly in the mire and morale at one of our relegation rivals must be shattered by surrendering two points when they were seemingly coasting towards a much needed victory.
So, four points from two tough away games and a glimmer of hope for the great escape despite still being bottom of the league. Let’s hope the lads can keep the momentum going against Villa at home on New Year’s Day.