In the inventory of David Moyes’ time at Sunderland, the inadequacies column is an exhaustive one, while the list of virtues is barely discernible.
But foremost of the reasons for the club’s miserable 2016-17 was the man’s negativity; verbally, mentally and tactically.
I would much prefer to forget about Moyes. The problem is that, like a house buyer who has inherited dry rot, negativity prevails with Simon Grayson.
His post-match interview on Saturday alluded to injuries to key players and the miniscule transfer budget he was given.
All perfectly valid, but not what anyone wants to hear. It suggests to the players who are available that they aren’t up to snuff. Maybe they aren’t, but I want all the players to believe they’re invincible – even if they’re complete duffers.
Sunderland won’t meet any top opposition in the Championship. There isn’t any. So why the fear?
This timidity has been augmented by some strange, strange substitutions; or lack of them. In the season’s first game against Derby, no changes were made. This was despite Sunderland having several clearly knackered players on the field.
It almost cost them one of the six measly points that they have.
Nottingham Forest were there for the taking with 10 minutes remaining. A fresh pair of legs running at tired defenders might have lassoed three points.
Instead, Sunderland waited until the second minute of injury time, a goal down, to introduce...a full-back. I share the general opinion of Jack Rodwell. Nevertheless, Sunderland were reduced to straw clutching and desperately needed someone to head in from a set-piece in injury time.
The last thing Rodwell had done on a football pitch was to head in from a set-piece in injury time. So naturally they brought on – Billy Jones.
Jones came on at Hull on Saturday too, out of position even though midfielders were on the bench, shortly before Sunderland conceded the equaliser.
It is obvious what Grayson was trying to do. But all it did was relay to Hull that they could attack with impunity as Sunderland had no intention of attacking back.
There’s no need to be completely gung-ho. However, attacking is defending. The opposition won’t score if you retain possession; preferably in their half.
The players themselves must show less fear too. Even though they have won only one out of eight, I fail to see what they have been so scared of. Sunderland might be limited; then so is everyone else.
For example and with respect, Hull’s half-time introduction of David Meyler should not have transformed the game. But it did. His goal was inevitable, albeit fortunate, and he dominated.
This brings us to tonight’s game at Goodison Park. All things considered; why worry about it?
Have a go. Everton aren’t especially confident themselves, and the fans will become edgy if Sunderland have a go.
Everyone still expects a home win and it’s only whatever they call the League Cup this season. There’s nothing to lose, so enjoy it. Then, more importantly, take the same attitude into Saturday’s game with Cardiff.
Fear is for frightened people.
Count Kloop’s shrugs – it’s better than listening to his blame game
It had previously been assumed that, following any bad result for his side, Jose Mourinho was unrivalled for the spurious abdication of responsibility and implausible blaming of officials.
Then along came Jurgen Klopp.
Old Clippety is also terrific at ladling out blame – and not just officials. He can also blame the media, the weather, his horoscope; you name it.
Last season he accused Sunderland of defending.
This week he had a pop at the club’s enormously successful history.
Shankly and Paisley copped it for winning all those damn trophies. Idiots.
Jurgen’s post-match cobblers is made more entertaining still by the incredible amount of shrugging that he does.
There is a shrug every 2.37 seconds on average.
The worst the result, the more shruggery is performed. Have a look next time he’s on.
Last week he set a personal best on Sky after cocking it up against Sevilla.
Trust us. Counting his shrugs is considerably more edifying than actually listening to him.