Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Shattered Cats Look Far from Wander-Ful

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Shattered Cats Look Far from Wander-Ful

Article excerpt


SUNDERLAND'S exertions over the last four months have finally caught up with them.

That can be the only conclusion after this tired, end-ofseason performance. Because a team which has come within an ace of beating title-challengers Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium and earned a draw against Spurs in the last fortnight should have had no problems seeing off a rock-bottom Wanderers side who are destined for the drop.

Since taking over at the beginning of December, Martin O'Neill has coaxed top-six form from players who had been preparing to dig in for a relegation battle alongside the likes of Wolves. A return of 32 points from 20 games has dragged Sunderland away from the lower reaches and into the safety of mid-table.

However, on Saturday there were clear signs that, after all that effort, the Black Cats are running out of steam in the final straight.

O'Neill admitted: "It is important not to let things dip. "It is not just a case of wanting to see the end of the season.

"The performance on Saturday maybe suggested it was, but I do not really want to believe that.

"Actually, I genuinely do not believe that, although we were off the mark, certainly."

The main worry for O'Neill right now is the fact the goals appear to have dried up.

After scoring three times at City, the Wearsiders have now fired blanks for three successive games.

With Nicklas Bendtner having another one of his off-days and wideman James McClean again a marked man now that opponents have wised-up to his attacking threat, it was left to the skilful Stephane Sessegnon to try to unlock a Wolves' defence which had not kept a clean sheet since August.

Sessegnon was the best player on the pitch by a distance and looked the man most likely to conjure something for the hosts, causing panic among the visitors' back line whenever he ran at them with the ball.

He set up two of Sunderland's best chances but McClean hit the sidenetting in the first half and, in the final minute of the second period, Seb Larsson scooped his shot over the crossbar. However, it was Wolves who came closest to snatching all three points, Simon Mignolet needing to make an excellent save from Steven Fletcher's header inside the last 10 minutes.

The draw saw Sunderland climb to ninth but, with six teams separated by a point and Liverpool only just ahead of that pack, the Black Cats could realistically finish anywhere between eighth and 14th.

So there is still work to do if the Wearmen are to achieve O'Neill's target of a top-10 finish.

He also insists the run-in will provide an opportunity for some of his fringe players to convince him they deserve to be a part of his future plans.

O'Neill added: "There will be one or two positions here where people can cement a place for next season - or the opposite might happen. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.