CHRIS YOUNG and GRAEME ANDERSON continue their views on Sunderland’s incredible campaign – and the way ahead.
BEST OPPOSITION YOU’VE SEEN?
CY: The top three were not massively impressive against Sunderland.
Manchester City’s only victory from three games was thanks to two worldies at Wembley, Chelsea were indebted to Eden Hazard’s brilliance to win on Wearside and Liverpool were distinctly anxious at Anfield.
The side who really shone for me were Southampton, who somehow failed to win both league games against Sunderland.
Their model of promoting homegrown youngsters and buying quality in the transfer market should be the model for Sunderland.
GA: I would agree with Chris that Southampton were impressive and deserved to win both league matches against the Black Cats. They struggled for consistency over the course of the season, but when they were firing, which was for long periods of the campaign, they stood comparison with anyone.
Both Liverpool and Arsenal cruised by Sunderland in both fixtures, as they are wont to do, and the Black Cats met those sides when they were enjoying fine spells of the season.
But I would like to mention Everton, who gave us a ding-dong battle at the Stadium of Light and just edged it, as well as giving Sunderland a terrific game at Goodison Park, despite being reduced to 10 men in the opening stages with keeper Tim Howard’s sending off.
WORST OPPOSITION YOU’VE SEEN?
GA: I’ll plump for Crystal Palace.
Clearly they must have done something right to finish above Sunderland in the table, but both games I saw them in were awful.
Sunderland lost 3-1 to Palace at Selhurst Park in August on a day when Ian Holloway’s Palace were dreadful but their opposition somehow contrived to be worse.
Then Tony Pulis’s Palace came to Sunderland in March and “did a job” on the Black Cats at the Stadium of Light. That job was to kill a game of football and by the end of the dour, dull, depressing 0-0 draw, they’d done it.
They just packed every man behind the ball and set out for the away point they eventually achieved. Effective, but not entertaining.
CY: I didn’t think much of Cardiff in either game and that was perhaps karma considering the manner in which James Bond villain Vincent Tan has run the club this season.
In last month’s Stadium of Light game, particularly, they were woeful.
Yes, Cardiff were reduced to 10 men on the stroke of half-time, but, in a game they needed to win, their only threat was a brace of set pieces.