Looking Forward

 

SUNDERLAND (Away)

Premier League

Sunday 10th November 2002

Under new management, Sunderland face a period that could make or break the team.  Peter Reid took them as far as he could, before players started going through the motions.  In came Howard Wilkinson and Steve Cotterill, as the management team to take them forward. Talk of new fitness testing leaked out and there would b some resistance him experimenting on human footballers.

But the tactics paid off at Highbury, when the Black Cats knocked Arsenal out of the competition on the same night we travelled to Burnley to lose.  This will boost their confidence and although they are suffering with long injury lists, they still have some very good players.  Out are Danish goalkeepers Thomas Sorensen and Thomas Myrhe and American midfielder Claudio Reyna will miss out on the rest of the season with ligament trouble.

Wright, Gray, Babb and Bjorkland make up the back four.  Wright is the youngest - coming from Liverpool in the summer, with the other three all very experienced, although not blessed with height/talent.  Pace is one thing that could do them and if Etherington is fit and can pull out a killer ball from somewhere, then we might be able to make the most of this aspect of our game.  Jody Craddock is another option the Wearsiders have, but is strength is his height and again, he is vulnerable on the ground.

With their two first choice keepers out, Jurgen Macho is keeping the other side's men at bay, while youngster

There are not too many surprises in their midfield either.  McCann, Piper, Kilbane, Butler or Thirwell.  The latter two are usually subs, but are hard working if limited players.  Piper is young, leggy and with pace that could unsettle Bunjy, should Hod decide to play him at left back again.  Kilbane has been a bit of an enigma.  He is Waddle-like in appearance, but he can change the game.  However, mostly, he changes the ball over to the other side, as he appears to have lost confidence and that ability to ghost past players he possessed at WBA.  Jason McAteer is there too and could play, should Wilko think a bit of grit is required in midfield.  He runs around a lot and gets stuck in, but daft Jason could have done much better for himself on leaving Bolton many years ago and joining Liverpool.  Such a shame that a good player could go off the boil so quickly there.

Sunderland's strike force has been their major problem .. until they hit Highbury.  Links in the summer appear to have fallen on deaf ears and the use of David Bellion, who was already on their books, is a shrewd one.  He has pace and an outstanding shot, so Tottenham need to be aware of him should he be fit for playing.  Flo and Quinn are the towering options up front and Kevin Phillips does need one of these types of players to feed off.  They can knock the ball down for him or he can cross it onto their head.  Marcus Stewart also plays a similar role to Phillips, but he moves anywhere along the front line to pull markers all over the place.  His two headed goals at Arsenal showed he has learned from coaching given to him !!

With one point form our last two games, Spurs will be looking to take something from their trip to the Stadium of Light.  All three would be nice, but they can expect a real fight, in front of a packed ground for a change there.  Sunderland will pack the midfield to try and stop us passing, which means Spurs might need to by-pass the midfield, but not using the long ball.  I imagine that they will try and pass their way through it.  An interesting clash of styles and of managers (one who took over from the other in the England hot seat).  If Tottenham decide to play and have a full(ish) team out, then it could end up ...

PREDICTION : -  Sunderland  1  Tottenham  3

For more information on the opponents and their history, including full result history of matches between the two teams, click here.

 

 

Sunderland  2  Tottenham  0   (Half-time score : 0-0)
FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Sunday 10th November 2002
Venue : -  Stadium of Light
Kick Off : -  16.05 p.m.
Weather : -  Dry, chilly
Crowd : -  40,024
Referee : -  U. Rennie (Sheffield)
Teams : -  
Sunderland : - Macho; Gray, Craddock, Babb, Wright; Proctor (Thirlwell 74), Kilbane, McCartney, McCann; Phillips (Kyle 87), Flo 
Unused Subs: Ingham, Stewart, Bjorkland

Tottenham : -  Keller; Carr, Richards, Perry, Thatcher (Iversen 89); Poyet (Bunjevcevic 65), Freund (Acimovic 78), Anderton, Davies; Sheringham, Keane
Unused Subs: Hirschfeld, Doherty

Colours : -  
Sunderland -  Red and white striped shirts, black shorts, black socks

Tottenham -  Yellow shirts, Navy blue shorts,  yellow socks with blue turnover.

Scorers : -  
Sunderland -  Phillips 60, Flo 62

Tottenham -  None

Cards : -  
Sunderland - None

Tottenham -  Perry (foul) 77, Davies (unsporting behaviour) 90

 
This was the kind of day that tests even the most loyal Spurs fan. A 500 mile round trip, on a Sunday, in November, a poor performance against a poor side, a chance to go 4th in League squandered, the Sky audience chuckling at our plight and a bunch of witty, warm northern folk chanting "Where were you on Schindler's List?" in your ear-hole. Lovely. I feel for those who also suffered the mid-week trek to Burnley. Not a good week for Lillywhites...and there's the game against the small team in Tottenham to come on Saturday!

The sizable (but muted) Spurs following had reason to be optimistic prior to kick-off. We fielded an experienced and solid side, with Anderton and Thatcher returning from injury. We all know that Sunderland are mediocre and the intimidating Roker Roar is, like Sergei Rebrov's first team appearances...a thing of the past. That said, the home fans did make some noise every time Robbie Keane got near the ball (which was typically somewhere near the corner-flag). I think they feel rejected. 

Some form of optimism was maintained throughout the first half despite the Mackems enjoying the bulk of possession. Spurs defended robustly and few chances were created by either team. Kasey Keller did well to keep out a Chris Perry miss-kick and that was about it. 

At half time we witnessed Niall Quinn's retirement being announced. An ex-Arse he might be but you have to take off your 1981 Cup Final Spurs Beany Hat to a man who, in stark contrast to the majority of greed-ridden modern players, donates 1,000,000 from his testimonial fund to charity.

The second half saw Spurs start more brightly and with more purpose. Anderton shot wide a couple of minutes after the break and then on 54 minutes Teddy picked out Simon Davies (who desperately needs a decent nick-name - and not Taff!) with a great pass. Davies did everything right but clipped his shot over Macho and wide of the right-hand post. And at that moment the game turned. Sunderland went straight up the other end and scored twice in two minutes. Game over. Spurs rallied to a certain extent when Glenda brought on Bunji for the wholly ineffective Gus and switched it to a back three. Stevie Carr (who looks way short of full match-fitness) missed two decent chances but a recovery from 2-0 down was never going to happen.

So where does it leave us? The pessimist reckons we are drifting inexorably towards mid-table. The optimist thinks there are still signs of progress with a UEFA place a realistic aim. On the basis of this performance and the show at Burnley ... both of which were thread-bare ... Europe seems as far away now as it did when Christian Gross was a crap manager.

I think we need the Pointing Man! 
Say we want Sherwood on the pitch!

MEHSTG TOP MAN : - DARREN ANDERTON

Olive Branch

 

CHRISTMAS COME EARLY

 

With players out injured, Tottenham surprised everyone by losing to Sunderland by fielding a team that  could hardly be described as the fittest that has ever donned the lilywhite/yellow shirt.

We were without the influential Redknapp and the flighty winger Etherington, but managed to put out two players who were rested against Burnley in midweek (Freund and Sheringham), one who returned from being injured in that match (Richards) and four who have already been injured this season, but have had some reserve action (Carr, Anderton, Poyet, Freund) and another who has not had any match practice whatsoever (Thatcher).  Now I am able to understand that perhaps you would want to play your most experienced side, but surely, you must give some consideration to the fitness of those players ? 

The way that many of the were unable to keep up with the Sunderland players and others were unable to kick the ball to their own players, it seemed that many had been out for too long.  It was a continuation of the last hour of the Burnley match, but even when we did hold the bal, it was like we were trying to score the goal of the season every time.

Things started well, with some neat passing and a chance for Keane that he dragged wide.  But then things went awry.  Luckily (at that stage), Flo was trying to hard to score and kept pulling his shots wide, but Sunderland, for all their possession ,rarely looked like scoring.  Tottenham did, but unfortunately, it was at the wrong end, when Perry, clipped by Phillips, attempted to put a ball out for a corner, but managed to get it on target and force Keller to reach up to save.  As he tumbled backwards, he was quick witted enough to realise that if he had held the ball, he would have fallen over the line with it, so he dumped it behind him (as he was then facing into the net) and dived on it, once he hit the ground, to prevent anyone following up on it.

Phillips obviously had a point to prove and was going for goal on every occasion.  Once Perry denied him and then as he went around Keller, Chris got back to stop his shot and Kasey managed to reach the ball just before the Sunderland striker.  The best chance that Spurs had was when Davies got away and pulled the ball back to Anderton, who hit a shot that was blocked by a diving defender.  Another one saw Keane break away on the right, latching onto a long ball from Thatcher.  However, when he got the ball across, there was nobody there in a yellow shirt.  This typified the lack of mobility in our side and with Teddy dropping further off the front line, Keane was isolated and invariably pushed wide to receive the ball.  Therefore, the answer would have been to put someone on who would play up alongside him and get Robbie in the box, where he can do most damage.

Spurs had been pushed back by an effervescent Sunderland side coming off the back of their Worthington Cup win over Arsenal and looking for their first win under the guidance of Howard Wilkinson and Steve Cotterill.  It was what they got with two second half goals in three second half minutes.

Tottenham should have been ahead, when Sheringham picked out a great run on the right by Simon Davies and while the Welshman did the right thing in dinking the ball over Macho, the ball floated wide of the goal and it was a costly miss.  Despite Rennie giving everything to the home side (even when defenders crawled all over Keano), Tottenham were holding their own until two moments of lack of concentration meant that we were sunk.

On the hour, a corner came in from the right, which was cleared, but the follow-up cross saw little Phillips nip in front of Richards to head powerfully past Keller from point blank range.  Without having time to think about it, a long ball down the right flank was chased by Perry and Flo.  The Spurs defender looked favourite to get there first, but the rangy Flo used his strength to muscle him out of it and get a shot in from a narrow angle that went through Keller's legs to make it 0-2.

Left chasing the game, Tottenham brought on Bunjy for Poyet.  Not the most adventurous sub., but one that was enforced by Gus' lack of running and the lack of anyone more suitable on the bench.  Bunjy is unlikely to change a game, especially when two down and the same goes for Acimovic.  His brief cameo here displayed the evidence that he is good on the ball, but still lacks the physical presence to make a big impact on the Premiership.

Spurs did press forward to try and salvage something, b8ut all there was to show was a blocked Sheringham effort when Goran pulled the ball back from the left; a Thatcher free-kick that had all the sting taken out of it by the wall and two Carr efforts at the far post, the best of which he couldn't even get on target.

Sunderland deserved the win and Tottenham deserved nothing.  There was little determination in the performance and despite otherwise fairly solid matches, Richards and Perry both got caught out and that cost us the match.  Even against teams like Sunderland, you have to be on your mettle for the whole 90 minutes.

Would it have been better to play some of the fringe players of the squad than putting out those who are not that match fit ?  Freund looked worse for being left out at Burnley, as he gave the ball much more regularly than usual.  Teddy tried to show how clever he is rather than trying to hurt the opposition.  Gus was off the pace from the start and Anderton wasn't involved enough where it counts.  With some players like Blondel and Ricketts, they would be happy to come in and do a job.  They would put their hearts into it and make things harder for the other side.

Will Glenn see it that way ?  Well, he better be at the reserve game at the Lane tonight to watch those who are keen to get in on the act.  Maybe not next week against Arsenal, but if there is a repetition of a showing like this, they will hammer us.  And he should see that some of the players who he continues to select despite everything that the performance suggests should be left out.  After all, last season the slump came at Christmas.  Is Christmas coming early this year ??

The Polyphant

 

 

Other scores this weekend :

Arsenal

1 Newcastle United  0 Saturday
Aston Villa       3 Fulham    1 Saturday
Bolton Wanderers    1 WBA   1 Saturday
Chelsea       3 Birmingham City  0 Saturday
Everton        1 Charlton Athletic  0 Saturday
Manchester City       3 Manchester United  1 Saturday
Middlesbrough       1 Liverpool    0 Saturday
SCBC      1 Blackburn Rovers 1 Saturday
West Ham United       3 Leeds United    4 Sunday

 

League Table
  P W D L F A Pts
1 Liverpool 13 9 3 1 24 10 30
2 Arsenal 13 9 2 2 28 13 29
3 Chelsea 13 6 5 2 23 12 23
4 Everton 13 7 2 4 16 15 23
5 Manchester United 13 6 4 3 17 12 22
6 Middlesbrough 13 6 3 4 16 10 21
7 Blackburn Rovers 13 5 5 3 19 14 20
8 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 13 6 2 5 17 18 20
9 Newcastle United 12 6 1 5 18 16 19
10 Leeds United 13 5 2 6 17 16 17
11 SCBC 13 4 5 4 13 13 17
12 Manchester City 13 5 2 6 14 19 17
13 Fulham 13 4 3 6 17 18 15
14 Aston Villa 13 4 3 6 10 12 15
15 Birmingham City 13 4 3 6 14 18 15
16 Sunderland 13 3 4 6 8 16 13
17 Charlton Athletic 12 3 2 7 10 17 11
18 West Ham United 13 3 2 8 13 23 11
19 WBA 12 3 2 7 10 21 11
20 Bolton Wanderers 12 2 3 7 12 22 9

Back to homepage