David Preece: Dissecting Marcus Maddison's stunning Posh free-kick and how Sunderland and Jon McLaughlin could have prevented it

When I looked for Sunderland’s result on Saturday it immediately made me think back to the heady days of the 90’s when I was still in the first flushes of youth, particularly the time of Take That’s success first time around and I began singing “Everything Changes But You” to myself.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 1:23 pm
Sunderland goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin.
Sunderland goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin.

“We’re a thousand miles apart but you know I love you.”.

It’s 1794 miles to be exact but the sentiment is still the same.

As is the title of the song itself. Everything does indeed change, except Sunderland’s ability to ruin a perfectly good weekend.

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My own team aren’t helping contribute to a feeling of well being either so if there has been any lingering homesickness, they’re helping to banish it.

That said, home is precisely where I’ll be this weekend as the Allsvenskan takes a break for International games but whether it it will feel like home is another thing.

Peering in from the periphery as the UK tears itself apart from the inside has been like watching a Netflix series that’s too far fetched to take it seriously. It doesn’t matter what your views on Brexit are, you can’t tell me you’re be happy with Boris Johnson steering H.M.S. Britannia.

A man who, if he were a goalkeeper, would be Gianluigi Buffoon.

The lovechild of the Milky Bar Kid and Honey Monster’s sister should not be put in charge of holding the kitty on a pub crawl, never mind the country but there’s nothing I can’t tell a Sunderland fan about people who aren’t fit to run organisations.

We could right a book on it. But this isn’t a political column and I’m not Joey Barton, so back to the badly cobbled analogies based around Take That songs.

Defeats like Saturday’s have to come with context and there’s plenty of caveats to add but the first goal in a game is always crucial and more often than not, the team that gets it wins. So with that in mind, it’s probably why I was asked my opinion on that first Posh goal that broke the deadlock.

Free kicks around the 30 yard mark (As this one was. Maybe further) are of constant interest to me. This is mainly because if you set up that very same scenario on the training field with only the taker and the goalkeeper, goals from that range would be as rare a thing as empathy in a Conservative.

But add a wall, a penalty box full of players and a baying crowd at your back and of course we see these types of goals on a weekly basis on every round-up show on TV. Which goes against the grain when anyone says “He shouldn’t get beaten from there.”, yet there are still plenty that do.

In situations like this, I always think it is much better to have a clearer sight of the ball, as early as possible, than to worry about trying to protect yourself Donald Trump style. No matter who is on the other end of the strike.

Now it’s easy to say things in hindsight but it’s a gospel I happen to preach, from the distance and angle Marcus Maddison was shooting from and only him hovering over the ball, I would only had a one man wall in front to give him a minor obstacle to worry about and allow myself to see the strike from source.

When you place a three man wall between yourself and the ball, that 30 yard free kick becomes a 20 yard one as you only see it as it passes the wall. Not only that, the ball is already travelling at pace and you haven’t had the chance to pick up any cues from the way the player has struck the ball to help predict its destination.

That’s why it looks like a soft goal, because it goes in so close to Jon McLaughlin but the truth is he simply hasn’t the time to see, evaluate and respond to the ball because of the wall and how well the ball has been hit.

So, despite being told on the internet this week that my opinion was worthless because I’ve played less games in the Championship than Jon McLaughlin by a man who loves dogs and coincidentally looks like a pug, there’s my thoughts anyway.

Do what you like with them, but if you’re like my canine cuddling friend and don’t appreciate my input, then you better have some patience.

When I finished playing, writing this column made me relight my fire for Sunderland and now I’m back for good. Never forget that.