I always look forward to our games, and being in the Championship means there are plenty to anticipate.
Another midweek fixture, this time in the League Cup, and as usual I was building my evening around taking in the match.
The 500 or so Sunderland fans that made their way to Goodison Park deserve a medal, because midway through the second half I came to the conclusion that the fixture was ultimately pointless, and I was only at home listening on the radio.
The team came out and at that point I began to think ‘yeah, it’s the League Cup. What sort of side was I really expecting?’
Maybe we should start expecting more.
On reflection it was abundantly clear that nobody cared about this game. From the fans to the players to the manager there was apathy. Grayson even commented on the point that the team selected were always likely to lose that game.
How can this be acceptable? Why have we resigned ourselves to this approach when it comes to cup football?
In 2014 we experienced probably the best moment of the last 25 years when we faced Manchester City in the final of the very same competition nobody is bothered about. Now I’m not saying we would’ve got near the final, but whilst you’re in the competition at least try and compete.
My view is that team on Wednesday night were not prepared to be competitive in the game. If you put out an XI that has players shoehorned in left, right and centre, a back four containing three right backs, then you are giving the impression that it’s OK to lose. It’s another excuse for players and manager to make. What did we expect with that team, Simon? Why not pick a different team if you don’t think that one is capable of winning.
Sam Brotherton could have come in at centre back at least. Now anyone that listens to the show will know I’m not one that wants to chuck the kids in at any given opportunity. However, what are we going to learn from playing Billy Jones at centre back?
On the flip side, what is Sam Brotherton going to learn from playing alongside an experienced pro in Lamine Kone and against a decent Everton side? It’s clear to me what the most beneficial exercise would be.
Maybe the competition as a whole needs a shot in the arm. Are we contractually obligated to compete in cup competitions? If they’re such a hindrance then maybe we shouldn’t enter the League Cup and arguably the FA Cup.
People might say that’s not showing the competitions in question the respect they deserve, but if we’re not bothered about it then why go through the motions? Let’s just sack it off and do something else instead.
Then when it’s gone, people might begin to reflect on just how important it is to them and the football club.
If we lose to Cardiff on Saturday then I’m sure it’ll have been worth it.