They say it’s grim up north and in Sunderland it certainly was. My New Year Resolution of going to games full of joy and expecting a win has been binned. I don’t think Jürgen was overly chuffed either. The effort put in against Manchester City might have been good reason to explain how we played but we still should have won. I hate to give Moyes due credit but he probably got his tactics right just as Jürgen got his right against City. Sunderland, like Everton, were in our faces and wouldn’t let us settle but there were also times when we wanted to make five passes when one might have done the trick. Even after Manè put us 2-1 up there was a foreboding feeling around the away end and with referee Anthony Taylor proving his many doubters right he gave Sunderland the chance they wanted. Not even the most one-eyed of Sunderland fans shouted for the free kick that led to the second penalty. How bad was Taylor? Well when both sets of fans boo him at the end it tells you a story. When Sturridge was injured even the Sunderland keeper was trying to tell the referee but he ignored him and that tells you something else about him. Maybe he is a Manc of some sort after all? Sunderland deserved the draw but the fixture planners and TV match snatchers had played their part. It’s football now and the level playing field is a thing of the past.
I had to endure this game following updates because I wasn’t there. Boxing Day ruined by Sky and New Year’s Eve ruined by BT. Sometimes football has to take second place although had it been an early start I would have made it. This was either our big test or the game which showed Manchester City aren’t going to deliver what they thought Guardiola would bring them? When I saw our line-up with Emre Can in the side and both Origi and Dancing Dan in the comfortable dugout I suspected The Kaiser wasn’t going to take the richer of the Mancunian clubs on in a slug fest. If that was the case, it turned out just fine. The Golden Wonder, Gary Lineker said later it wasn’t the classic neutrals hoped for, well tough titty pal. To me this was the perfect appetiser for what I would feast on later in the evening. Gini Wijnaldum said we shouldn’t be surprised he scored with his head – it wouldn’t have bothered me if he scored it with his backside – but it wasn’t a bad effort was it? Vincent Kompany must have been equally impressed watching from the away end but maybe not so chuffed with his own teams efforts? Jürgen got his tactics spot on and there won’t be too many games in the remainder of the season when Manchester City don’t have a worthwhile effort on target. I don’t care for the phoney New Year’s honours list but we look to have more chance of being mentioned in them than Manchester City.
I suppose the only good thing about TV switching this game to suit themselves was the fact that we could let a few cobwebs clear after the Christmas Day binge and feast? After the ‘real’ Boxing Day results we were again left playing catch up as everybody who was expected to win, won. I was sat in the Main Stand lower far too close to the Stoke fans for my comfort. They’re a real mouthy lot and remind me more often than not, what some football supporters used to be about. However, they weren’t the only source of irritation because we were surrounded by what seemed hundreds of the “Who R Ya” sort and they had a day to remember!
It probably all started when Stoke scored and they begged the same question of us but when we levelled, all around me were on their feet gesticulating and shouting one of the most boring chants in football. After each goal it got worse and more annoying. It did cease towards the end of the game though, because most of them had made an early exit.
I got home just as Sky showed the highlights and the most audible bit was those claiming to be Reds, hollering “Who R Ya”, yep “Who R Ya” indeed.
Other than that, I thought we played far better than against West Ham, Middlesbrough and Everton. Stoke came to give us a game and for half an hour might have been able to claim they were the better side but after Lallana levelled things up we played some really good stuff and with a bit more composure around the box we might have added a couple more. Since he ‘De-Mobbed’ himself from National Service Milner looks better every game. With Coutinho almost mended we’re beginning to look stronger in numbers and if I had a bit of an headache following the festive fun, The Kaiser might have a bigger one naming his best eleven.
One comment about our goalkeeping situation, maybe Mignolet could have done better with the Stoke goal, but so could the defence. The save from Joe Allen kept us in the game at the time and maybe he has benefitted from the kick up the backside? Time will no doubt tell us more.
Well done to the Kop on Peter Crouch applause, nice to hear his song again. Also to those who tried to get the ‘Merry Christmas, Everton’ one going, a valiant effort was made in the Upper Anny.