Lift off for the Cat’s and Moyes

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Jermain Defoe (left) and Lynden Gooch (right) celebrate following 2-1 win at Bournemouth on Saturday

It had been a long time coming for Sunderland football club, but after 10 games without a win in the league, the Black Cats finally picked up their first 3 points of the season. It was hardly a vintage display and they certainly rode their luck at times, but they finally have a win to their name. They still remain the bottom of the league and 6 points off safety, but its a starting pointing for Moyes and his team and the question is can they now push on ?

The experts would say no. Sunderland are still in a heap of trouble and although the 3 points at Bournemouth has provided some light relief, they still have a long way to go if they are to beat the drop like they have done over previous years. Yet, during their win over Bournemouth, there were signs that Black Cats haven’t given up just yet. Following their 4-1 defeat to Arsenal the previous week, there were questions over whether the players were actually  playing for the manager. There looked a lack of desire and hunger to win the ball back against the Gunners and many looked disinterested. When the players stop putting the work in week and week out then that’s the time to worry and due to the fact that the team is lacking quality in key areas, if they don’t try then there isn’t much chance of them getting anything out of games. However, last week against Bournemouth, you couldn’t pick a single individual out and say that they didn’t give their all on that pitch. Every single one got stuck in and put their bodies on the line in a desperate attempt to preserve their narrow lead in the final few minutes of the match. This was typified by the performance of Duncan Watmore on the wing who simply didn’t stop running making 84 sprints in total throughout the match.

Whilst every player did give their all on Saturday, many will say that Bournemouth were unlucky to lose. They created numerous chances but seemed un-able to find the necessary goals. The reason for this was poor finishing at times but they weren’t helped by the inspired form of Jordan Pickford in-goal. This kid has been a revelation in between the sticks for Sunderland this season and without him they would have been on the end of far worse results than they have been which seems hard to believe considering their position in the league. Without any clean sheets this season, you would think that his impact has been minimal but with 41 saves in the league this season, behind only Tom Heaton (62), he has been pivotal in giving  his team a chance in every game. His performances in goal have certainly not been met with the results they deserve but against Bournemouth he was the difference. Some of the saves he made, especially against Josh King late on, were world-class and without him Sunderland wouldn’t have come away with anything.

We all know that in Jermain Defoe Sunderland have a man who can get them the goals they need to stay in the division but he needs the ball to do it. At times this season he has looked low on confidence and he certainly hasn’t helped by the lack of support from his team mates. However, against Bournemouth on the weekend he had the support he has been crying out for in the form of Victor Anichebe. The Nigerian put in a dominant display over the weekend and played key roles in both Sunderland goals. Anichebe has struggled to make an impact wherever he’s been but the one thing you get with him is someone who knows how to hold the ball up. The man is a beast, a unit, attempting to take the ball off him is like trying to take candy from a baby, it simply won’t happen. While his game to goal ratio isn’t nearly has good as Defoe, he does act as outlet for his team and that perhaps is the one criticism you would have of Defoe. Taking this in to account you would say that the two are the perfect partnership up front and this was proved correct against Bournemouth where the two both got on the scoresheet. Of course it’s only one game but with the two in the team, Sunderland carry a threat and when you carry a threat going forward, you always stand a chance.

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Anichebe (left) celebrates scoring Sunderland’s equaliser with Defoe (right)

Whether or not Sunderland can build on their 3 points over the weekend remains to be seen but they will go into their home fixture with Hull after the international break with renewed confidence and the belief that they can pick up their first home win of the season. It would be naïve too say that Sunderland can now go on a terrific run but then it would be the same to write them off after only 10 games. They are, after all ,the masters of survival.

 

 

Same Old Sunderland

 

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Moyes during Sunderland’s defeat agaisnt Middlesbrough yesterday

 

It seems that after another slow and dismal start to the season, Sunderland are destined to fight it out again at the bottom of England’s top division. Boo’s rung round the Stadium of Light at half time during yesterday’s derby with Middlesbrough, and whilst we are only two games into the season, it’s becoming an all to familiar story for the Sunderland fans.

After last season’s dramatic survival, many thought that the Black Cats would push on under Sam Allaradyce’s leadership and perhaps evade the struggles of relegation at last. However, this summer turned into one to forget for Sunderland with Big Sam leaving to take on the England job. Whilst it didn’t take long to find a replacement in David Moyes, it has once again been a disjointed start to the season. This was underlined by Moyes selection for yesterday’s game with Defoe and O’Shea being the only two players to play over 100 premier league games. It’s clear that the team lacks all round balance and without it you fear for them already.

Of course it’s only two games and the time to panic perhaps isn’t quite yet, but perhaps what scares the fan’s the most is the lack of signings, or at least decent signings.With five signings in all that suggests that business has been done, but when you look at them you might think otherwise. The most disturbing one is the £8 million signing of defender Papy Djilobodji. After being bought for £2 million last season by Chelsea, he only managed two minutes of first team football for them, and some how his value has gone up £6 million. Furthermore, the fact that Conte says he needs a centre half and he let Djilobodj go says it all. days remaining in this transfer window, Sunderland need signings and decent ones at that.

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Djilobodji played only 2 minutes for the Blues in his only season with them (see above)

The most significant bit of business this summer is probably the loss of Younes Kaboul and the likely departure of fellow centre half Lamine Kone. The two defenders formed  a solid base in that Sunderland back line and without them you fear that as well scoring goals, stopping them might be an issue as well.

The blame for the lack of transfer movement may well fall with Moyes but he isn’t the first manager to fail in bringing in genuine quality :Jozy Altidore, Adam Johnson, Emanuele Giaccherini  and Jack Rodwell are just some of the players who added nothing but wasted space to the Sunderland squad. The problem now of course is that who would want to come to wearside ? The picture from the outside now is you are guaranteed a relegation dog fight no matter what.

The club is and has been for a while a mess. Perhaps the whole situation has been hidden by their rivals Newcastle who have arguably had a rougher time of it, but honestly, they are both as bad as each other. The whole situation isn’t helped by the revolving door of managers. With the club having 7 in the last 5 years, it’s fairly obvious the club lacks stability and untill that happens, they will always be near the bottom and sooner or later fall through the trap door into the Championship.

Fellaini would be perfect fit for the Black Cat’s

It’s safe to say that Marouane Fellaini’s Manchester United career hasn’t gone to plan. After signing 3 years ago for the Red Devils at a hefty price of £27.5 million from Everton, many of the United faithful had high hopes for the big Belgian. However, like many of United’s recent signings, he failed to live up to the hype.

Struggling to cement a place in the starting 11, Fellaini’s appearances for United during his tenure have been mainly from the substitute’s bench. Whilst at times he has shown signs of adding something different to United’s game, he has rarely showed any real consistency. The goals have also dried up from Fellaini’s game. In his final season at Everton, Fellaini contributed 11 premier league goals which for a midfielder isn’t a bad return certainly in an Everton team still finding their feet. On the other hand, during his three seasons at United, he has only managed 11 goals all together. Whilst it could be said that Fellaini has been restricted when it comes to appearances, the odd time he has played, he has rarely looked the threat he was at Everton.

To add to this, with the arrival of more creative player’s this summer such as Henrik Mkhitaryan, who managed 23 goals for Dortmund last season, you have to wonder were Fellaini fit’s in under Mourinho. Furthermore, the acquisition of Ibrahimovic  means that United now have that threat in the air so perhaps this is an indication that the Belgian is surplus to requirements.

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Fellaini spent 5 season’s at the Toffees before moving to Manchester (see above)

Despite all his critics, Fellaini does still have his admirers, one being the new Sunderland boss David Moyes. Moyes was after all the one who bought Fellaini to both Everton and United and has already stated his desire to bring Fellaini to the north-east. Of course the majority of players would prefer to play for Manchester United rather than Sunderland, but does Fellaini want to risk the fact that he may be succumbed to the bench for much of next season. To add to this, Moyes know’s how to play to his strengths and at Sunderland, a team not known for their glamorous football, you could certainly see  Fellaini thriving just like he did at Everton.

In saying all this, it would probably take a hefty fee to bring Fellaini to Sunderland but United could certainly do with clearing their squad out a bit. And who knows, the idea of working with Moyes again may appeal to Fellaini and we could perhaps see the man with the Afro at his best once again.

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Moyes bought Fellaini to Everton and then United in 2013 (see above)