Saints v Sunderland
St.Mary's, Saturday 18th October 2014
You don't see too many scoreboards like this in your lifetime
It's Saturday, the working week is over and there is a footer match to go to. Of course I wake up feeling rubbish; achey and a fuzzy head, and what's worse we have to go and sort out mortgage type stuff first thing. I'm no good at that grown up stuff at the best of times, let along when I'd rather just curl up on the sofa and feel sorry for myself.
Anyway, enough of all that, when I was younger I had something of a soft spot for Sunderland. It started in 1973, by May of that year I had already been to The Dell, and any wavering that may have been going on for my footer affections was in the past, I was a Saints fan, I also already hated Leeds. So to see a team playing in red and white stripes beat those dirty, cheating gits meant I took them to my heart a little. It was cemented a few years later when several great bands came from that city. However, Poyet is now their manager, so any interest I may once have had in them has gone and all I could think about on the way to the ground is we couldn't beat them in four games last season.
As we took our seats I noticed that the kid who sits in front of us is now sporting a Pellè style haircut.
The early stages of the game saw Sunderland have a fair it of possession, but I never really felt threatened by them, in fact when an early corner was headed harmlessly over by Wickham, S turned to me and said 'Sunderland better make the most of this, they won't get anything more.' Koeman may not had been happy with how we played early on, but it just seemed like we were taking a little time to get into the game without being troubled too much.
Speaking of Wickham, I never realised he was so big, he played over on the left and towered over Clyne who looked like one of the match day mascots next to him, but he must have big pockets in those shorts because that's where Wickham was all game, he never got the better of Clyne who was superb, he was dynamic and exciting and all Wickham could do was to cynically stamp on Clyne's ankle as he powered into Sunderland's half. It was horrible and should have ended up with a red card rather than a yellow.
From then on we took over. Long, working tirelessly as ever was chopped down in the area, nothing was given and the ball eventually reached Pellè who held it up before knocking it to Schneiderlin who flicked it over a defender, Virgini came across to cover, but instead of clearing it he smashed it into the corner of his own net. It's not often Saints goals make me laugh, especially after such a good volley, but that one did.
We were starting to get our game going, and once again Sunderland contributed to our second goal, a pass out of defence hit one of their own players and was picked up by Tadic who fed Davis in the area, he took his time to expertly pick out Pellè who tapped it in from inside the six yard box.
Sunderland did break through once or twice in the first half, but when they did Alderweireld was always there to calmly tidy up; he never looks rushed or panicked. Sunderland's best moment of the day came via a Larsson free kick, it was a good effort but Forster comfortably beat the shot away away.
There was a moment of controversy when Fletcher broke through, for once leaving the Saints defence behind. Forster came rushing out to meet him, Fletcher toe poked the ball passed the giant keeper, then did a somersault over him. Sunderland's players and coach, of course howled for a penalty but at the time it looked like Fletcher was just diving out of the way of the on rushing keeper, and he was the one player who didn't appeal. Seeing it back later I'm still not sure if it was a penalty or not, so I guess the officials got it right, although I know I'd have been demanding a penalty if it was one of our forwards in that position.
Sunderland were finding it hard to cope with Long and Clyne down our right, and got better and better as the game went on, and about two minutes after the Fletcher incident he picked the ball up on the left, in their area, waited and, like Davis earlier, picked out a perfect cross which saw Jack Cork on his own to bundle the ball in, although Mannone will probably think he should have stopped it.
The guy who sits next to me mutters the whole game, I don't think he's talking to anyone in particular, and although he is largely positive about Saints, he does tend to occasionally give the opposition and officials some stick. At one point in the first half he said 'Cattermole, you piece of shit.' I think he's a very perceptive man.
3-0 at half time. Then the fun started.
Sunderland, who were out on the pitch much earlier than Saints for the second half tried to impose themselves at the start of the second half, a bit, but then we started to get our passing going, the crowd found it's voice and we took over. Completely.
Morgan Schneiderlin was magnificent throughout; dropping deep, pushing forward, challenging and spraying passes about, it was a master class of how to play in midfield.
Sunderland had made a change at half time, and made two others about 15 minutes into the second half, but it couldn't stop us and after Tadić maybe should have scored, we got the scoring going in the second half when Pellè received the ball after a period of passing that involved pretty much the whole team, his low shot had the pace taken off it by the keeper, but Bridcutt couldn't' stop it going over the line. It possibly should really be given to Pellè, but it's gone down as an own goal.
With us then being 4-0 up, Saints took off Long and Davis, who'd both worked their socks off, and bought on Wanyama and Mané, just to give Sunderland something different to think about.
Number 5 came from Pellè, after another period of passing and he ran on to a perfect Tadić pass and hit it first time in to the far bottom corner.
I was impressed with the turnout from Sunderland fans, and the backing they'd given their team, but they started to stream out at this point, and really who can blame them?
We just kept going, kept passing and moving and both Wanyama and Mane got themselves involved, Big Vic setting up Pellè who unfortunately shot over the bar. He did the same thing not long after too.
Then we did get our sixth. You know when a keeper scuffs a clearance and you want the player to hit it first time, but they never do, they want to make sure, and take a touch? Well, not Tadić, he curled in a wonderful shot past Mannone's desperate dive after the keeper's terrible clearance.
And then it was 7. Wanyama seemed desperate for the ball in the area, it went wide to Pellè, back across to Cork, then to Tadić with Wanyama demanding it all the time. Tadić beat his man then cut it back to Wanyama who smashed it in from 12 yards out.
Pellè, who had been suffering from an ankle injury for a lot of the game then got to have a rest and we got a rare look at Mayuka. Sunderland really needed to face some more pace at that point.
I said at half time that I hoped we'd see Mané get a goal, and it arrive right at the end. Bertrand, fed Tadić who cut it cut again, this time from the left and Mané side footed it in.
The bloke next to S said 'It's not worth having a seat today, we keep having to stand up!' And Schneiderlin had a good go at getting a 9th, and Mané still had time to make Mannone pull off a decent save. When you think of that Pellè could have had another three, Tadić maybe should have scored from close range, and Steven Davis narrowly put one over, we could have had double figures, and it would't have flattered us.
Sunderland were rubbish, but we were brilliant, and everyone played their part. I guess we've made Newcastle fans feel a bit better about themselves, that came down here and were rubbish too, but they restricted us to 4.
Manager (and player) of the month jinx? Pah!
23 Forster, 02 Clyne, 06 Fonte, 17 Alderweireld, 21 Bertrand, 08 Davis (Mané - 65’ ), 04 Schneiderlin Booked, 18 Cork, 07 Long (Wanyama - 65’ ), 19 Pellè (Mayuka - 80’ ), 11 Tadic
01 Davis, 03 Yoshida, 05 Gardos, 10 Mané, 12 Wanyama, 24 Mayuka, 28 Reed,
25 Mannone, 27 Vergini, 16 O’Shea, 05 Brown (Bridcutt - 45’ Booked ), 03 van Aanholt, 06 Cattermole Booked, 30 Buckley, 07 Larsson (Rodwell - 60’ ), 14 Jordi Gómez (Johnson - 61’ ), 10 Wickham Booked, 09 Fletcher
01 Pantilimon, 04 Bridcutt, 08 Rodwell, 11 Johnson, 12 Cabral, 18 Mavrias, 19 Graham
Ronald Koeman's post match interview
Dušan Tadić & Graziano Pellè post match interview
Jack Cork's post match interview
A sequence of pictures I took of the Chapel End Big Screen after the eighth goal was shown. Click to see them in order.
Vergini 12′ (og)
Pellè 18′, 69′
Bridcutt 63′ (og)
van Aanholt 86′ (og)
Referee : Andre Marriner
Attendance : 29,615
Tadić had his first goal & four assists
Mané who thought that he had scored his first & Saints 8th goal
That is not the end of the world, but The Premier League hadn't even had the common courtesy to let the club know. That shows a complete lack of respect for all involved, but I suppose we shouldn't be surprised.
The club took just 14 minutes to respond, also on Twitter. That showed considerably more class than the authorities had just displayed. Snapshots of both Tweets are on the right.