Gus waits for his Players in the Tunnel at St.Mary's
Since our last game, the international break has seen Nathaniel Clyne and Fraser Forster putting out training cones for
swapping wit and wisdom with Roy Hodgson but there was other Saints involvement
with other countries who are fortunate enough to have a manager who knows what
he’s doing. Having said that, Jose Fonte
got his long awaited call up for Portugal and then sat on the bench for two
matches, including a friendly when he surely could have been tried ahead of
that walking red card that is Pepe. The
main positive was that Graziano Pellè made his first start for Italy and in
true Rickie Lambert fashion, scored to secure the Azzurri a 1-0 win against
Malta. The main story in this for the
media here was that he was in the squad in place of Balotelli whereas the
amusement in my house was provided by the fact that he was picked ahead of Dani
Osvaldo who as it turned out, managed to get injured in training. Dusan Tadic had some fun as a politically
charged encounter between Serbia
ended up being abandoned when a flying drone appeared with an pro-Albanian flag
on it, a Serbian player took it down and the Albanian’s kicked off. The good news is that Dusan only played 45
The rest was pretty positive with Steve Davis winning two matches with Northern Ireland as they continued their 100% start to their European Championship Qualifying Group, Morgan Schneiderlin starting a game for France and then, almost unbelievably, Emmanuel Mayuka scored a goal for Zambia which really should be bigger news than the Ebola outbreak. It’ll give him more confidence for his role of sitting on the bench on Saturday. Mayuka, Big Vic and Sadio Mané were playing African Cup of Nations Qualifiers on Wednesday so the chances of them being available for Saturday is somewhat slim.
The international break made its way into Ronald Koeman’s pre-match press conference as Holland have made a ropey start to life under Guus Hiddink and a few ex-players have been speculating that Koeman should have the job. In typical Koeman fashion he addressed it, saying that they could have approached him in the summer and they didn’t and now he was at Southampton and his contract was for 3 years. It’s obviously dangerous to speculate on the intentions of managers post-Pochettino but you get the impression he means it which is as good as we’re going to get.
The team news revealed that the African 3 were all available but on the bench as the pack was shuffled to bring Corky and Shane Long into the starting line up. Sunderland having won a game last time out, have Fletcher and Wickham up front in what looks like an attacking line up. The central defence is O’Shea and Brown who you usually need a good referee against with O’Shea in particular being fond of grabbing the centre forward and wrestling. The midfield contains two of the most unlikeable players in the Premier League for my money in Cattermole and Larsson. They’re both horrible little snarly players who are always on at the referee and added to that – they’re both pretty shite.
Away we go and
start the better and we get penned back a bit.
We’re giving the ball away and not having any calm possession. Poyet has posted Wickham out wide left with
Fletcher up top and Jordi Gomez is obviously supposed to provide the guile that
Cattermole and Larsson won’t.
We still really weren’t playing very well by the time we reached 10 minutes and then something very odd happened. Football broke put and we moved up the pitch and Morgan tried to knock it past a defender which he did but too far for him to collect the ball again. He needn’t have bothered as Vergini came across from right back and instead of using his left foot to clag it up the pitch, he used his right and smashed it on the volley straight past Mannone and into the bottom corner, from 20 yards. More Vagina than Vergini. What a finish, what a goal, what the fuck was that?
Once they’d stopped holding their heads in their hands, Sunderland once again looked decent with Fletcher causing problems in the middle but Wickham was having a mare out wide and picked up a booking for trashing Clyne. On 20 minutes, having reloaded the gun,
Sunderland turned it on
themselves and pulled trigger. Buckley,
last seen being average in the Championship for Brighton, tried to pass out of
defence and drilled it straight up Larsson’s arse. The rebound fell to Steve Davis who advanced
down the left and slid a ball across the six yard box and Pellè steamed in to
tap in number 2. Larsson had, true to my impression of him as a whiny moany
bastard, not tried to track back once the ball was lost but just stood there
making faces and throwing his arms about n pathetic 8 year old fashion.
Sunderland still flickered though and won a free kick for a nothing tackle which caused me to utter my second Family Stand Expletive of the season with a heartfelt ‘Bollocks referee!’ Whoops. Anyway, Larsson’s free kick was easily dealt with by Fraser. Fraser was in the middle of the next incident of note as Cattermole slid Fletcher in. He got to the ball first and poked it past Fraser before attempting to jump over Forster, clipping him and flying up in the air as the ball rolled wide. I expected a penalty to be given and a red card to come out of Andre Marriner’s pocket. If you look at it from our point of view though, Fletcher has already knocked the ball wide so it’s not a goalscoring chance any more when contact is made. I guess also that the ref has seen it as Fletcher started jumping before Forster got to him. However, if I was a Sunderland fan I’d be livid…. But I’m not so definitely not a penalty…
Just when the Mackems were thinking that everything was against them, Corky swept a ball out to Tadic on the left and he toyed with Vagini before clipping over a cross right into the path of the onrushing Cork who rather bobbled the shot but even though Mannone got a good hand to it, it still ended up in the net and with Corky now being a regular goalscorer, all the Row Z stuff I wrote about him last year seems more and more funny. Half time and though we hadn’t been brilliant, it was still 3-0 and surely we wouldn’t manage to screw up against Sunderland again and somehow not win.
At half time I was explaining to my son and daughter that 3-0 at half time usually means 3-0 at full time as the players knock off as the job is done. Daughter said it would be nice to see at least one goal down this end. We will see… Gus hasn’t had an enjoyable half time and he’s sent the players out early and Wes Brown has been replaced with Liam Bridcutt. Call me a pessimist but I was pleased that Adam Johnson didn’t come on as I’ve always thought he was decent.
The only danger to us in this game is from a fast start and an early goal from Sunderland but what we get is Cattermole giving up in midfield and jogging back as Saints attack. A cross from Clyne, Pellè heads down and Davis lashes it over the bar on the volley. Davo is the new Corky in front of goal. Ten minutes go by with nothing much happening aside from Bridcutt looking like a fish up a tree at right back. Actually, if he was a fish he wouldn’t be out of his depth but he looks like he’s won a game in the first team in a competition. He’s slow and looks like a ball boy. Anyway, so Gus decides that it’s time to change stuff and takes of Larsson and Gomez, throwing on Johnson and Rodwell who are on paper, much better players. What I don’t get is that he left Wickham out wide left where he was doing nothing and played Johnson, a left footed winger, in the middle. Also, Larsson has been piss poor but he’s better than Cattermole and at least he hasn’t given up.
Shane Long gets put in on the keeper and it looks like his first goal for Saints but he unselfishly knocks it to Tadic whose effort is cleared off the line. Sunderland had another go at clearing one off the line a minute later as Bertrand got down the left and pulled the cross back to Pellè who took a touch and blasted a shot through Mannone who got something on it. As the ball rolled towards the goal, Bridcutt did something akin to Riverdance on the ball and succeeded only in knocking it over the line. What a complete bellend, 4-0. I’m pretty sure it’s an own goal but worth a shout to the dubious goals commission.
What you need when your midfield has given up and you’re 4-0 down, is to see Big Vic coming on for the opposition. Having played two games for Northern Ireland on the international break, Steve Davis is the one to make way and it’s been another excellent game from the man who signed a 4 years contract last week. Sadio Mané is also on for Shane Long and if I was Bridcutt I’d be phoning the Samaritans at this point.
Big Vic is immediately finding the freedom of the midfield and shanks a shot across the goal and it goes straight to Graziano but he lifts a first time shot over the bar before sinking to his knees in over-demonstrative typical Italian fashion. He’s not to be denied a minute later as Tadic picks it up in the middle, waits until Pellè has half a yard on the hopeless Vagini, slides the pass in and Pellè whips is across Mannone and into the opposite corner. 5-0.
It’s getting silly now and the Cattermole attitude has rubbed off on even the usually reliable players. O’Shea wafts a lazy backpass to Mannone who instead of belting it, tried to sidefoot it out to van Aanholt but succeeded only in passing straight to Tadic who simply curled it round him with his left foot as Mannone dived on the ground late, in the hope that an earthquake would swallow him up.
On the one hand, Koeman must be feeling sorry for Sunderland as he’s sending on Mayuka for work experience in place of Graziano. However, Ronald is waving everyone forwards as he has no intention of taking the foot off the throat. 6-0 becomes 7-0 almost straight from the kick off.
Sunderland pass it around and into
Cattermole who gets brushed aside by Big Vic.
He can’t be bothered to chase back so two passes later, Dusan Tadic
turns van Aanholt inside out before playing a ball into the path of Big Vic who
thunders it into the net. The man who
didn’t celebrate against Swansea when he got the winner is celebrating the 7th
goal in a 7-0 lead though his dive towards the corner flag didn’t have much
It honestly felt like we could score 10 if we wanted to but we had to settle for just the one more goal with Tadic again getting down the left past the non-existent Bridcutt and pulling back for Sadio Mané to score his first Saints goal with Mannone helpless. EIGHT-NIL... Eight fucking Nil.
It was getting so ridiculous that there was an air of disappointment that there were no more goal in the last 5 minutes and the final whistle signalled the end of the complete and utter slaughter of the team that we haven’t beaten in the last 6 attempts. Though we always lose to Spurs and that continued this season, today was a day when you realise that this is a new Southampton and the usual rules do not apply. Ronald Koeman got his team selection spot on, benching the players who had travelled the farthest and then bringing them on for impact. Both Corky and Shane Long did a great job and let’s not forget that this was another clean sheet with José Fonte and Toby Alderweireld being rock solid at the back, ably backed up by Clyney and Ryan Bertrand who also flew forward with good effect. All the goalscorers and Tadic in particular will take the plaudits but in the middle of it were Morgan and Steve Davis who totally ran the game.
Gus to be fair, did say some nice stuff about us before the game but this couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke. He fronted up in his post match interview saying that it was the most embarrassing performance he’d ever been involved in. A majority of his players just gave up and more on that later but in memory of Lambert and Barnard and Dagenham and ‘Can you Keep Up’, we’ll start with you Gus. The substitution he made at half time was mind blowing. Not only did he bring on Bridcutt who is a Championship player at best, he put him out of position and teamed him up with the equally hopeless Buckley on the Sunderland right against a rampaging Bertrand and Tadic. The double whammy was that Vagini was moved into an area where he could do even more damage… and he did. Playing Wickham out on the left was a total waste of a player – he’s a centre forward and you have Adam Johnson on the bench. Did I mention that the players that he signed from his previous club Brighton, Buckley and Bridcutt are shit? I think I did but it bears repeating.
Then we get to the midfield engine room of Larsson and fucking Cattermole. Larssson got taken off but he was the better of the two. Cattermole had given up at half time. He couldn’t be arsed to track his man and just jogged back. He did the same with Big Vic’s goal having lost the ball. Even Matt le Tissier put in more effort to get back if he’d lost the ball himself. There has to be an element of pride in yourself, especially if you’ve screwed up, to win the ball back. Cattermole is the captain for Christ’s sake and can whoever touted him for an international call up, simply because he hasn’t been sent off for a few weeks, please have a word with themselves. Not only is he bang average, he also has a shocking attitude when the going gets tough. In the first half, I thought Fletcher was decent – holding the ball up well and being a right nuisance and he didn’t make a big deal of the penalty shout but other than that, Sunderland were woeful. Oh and I forgot to mention the keeper. He was great – should have saved goals 3 and 4 and he fucked up for number 6 but other than that – great.
When I got home, my missus (who is not a football fan) asked if I felt sorry for the Sunderland players to which I answered “not in the slightest” as you’d expect. The fans however are another matter. I’ve been on the end of a trip to Sunderland where we were abysmally bad and it’s not good. Mind you, we only lost 1-0. 8-0 is a shocker and whilst I hate people leaving games early, I don’t think you can blame anyone when their side is 4-0 or 5-0 down and you have a 300 mile plus journey in front of you.
Next up is another home game against Stoke – another one of the side who we don’t beat. They will be considerably more tough than
they have thugs like Charlie Adam and Ryan Shawcross in their side. A few days afterwards we also have them in the
League Cup so expect our resources to be stretched and if we come out of these
game with no injuries then we’ll have done well. Oh yeah, a couple of wins would be nice. That’s for another day though so let’s enjoy
the 8-0. I was present the last time we
scored 8 which was an 8-2 against Coventry
with Steve Moran and Danny Wallace both scoring hat-tricks in April 1984, just
over 30 years ago. Make the most of it
"Look Up at the Scoreboard Gus. Can You Keep Up? 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8"