The Backlash

Last updated : 04 December 2007 By Michael Grady

But anyway, it ended 7-1, we were appalling, dreadful and basically every other term you could use under the sun. It was a day that will either be blocked out because if was too painful, or more likely, be etched into the memories of every Sunderland everywhere.

Nevertheless, onwards we go, and onwards to Derby. If ever there was an opportunity to bounce straight back, it is now. In front of an expected crowd of 43,000, with a nigh-on fully fit squad all riled up from last week with a point to prove, against a Derby team struggling to find anything cohesive, or indeed anything resembling form.

There will be a new man standing in the dugouts for the Rams on Saturday. With Paul Jewell taking the reigns from Davies. A bit off the mark I know, but I am completely baffled as to why the board at Pride Park sacked Davies. He completely over-achieved with the team last year, and clearly this year was just for the experience. The club benefited from the money, and will continue to when receiving the parachute payments.

There is no one in the world of football management who could have helped Derby survive. No one. So why sack a manager who won promotion in the first place. If there was ever a manager to lead the team back to the top flight again, it would have been Davies. He was expected to avoid relegation just as much as he was expected to part the seas or turn water into wine.

Anyway, back to Sunderland. Everyone was surprised to hear how placid Keane was following what can only be called a drubbing. He seems to have that slight "psycho" element to him, whereby staying quiet, calm and collected he intimidates everyone more. If he had flown off the handle, the critics would have swarmed round him like illegal donors round the Labour party.

As the season goes on, it becomes more and more evident how much more quality we need in the squad. The team resembles a colander at times. We've got a good set up, 75% of a good team, but there are so many gaps. I think the most men have had more joy shoe shopping than Halford ahs at right back this season. McShane had a howler last week, but he has been immense so far. Higginbotham hasn't really looked completely comfortable since his debut vs Man Utd and we still don't have a proper left back.

With Richardson still out, we have yet to see what one of our biggest signings can do. He was out of place at Old Trafford, but excelled at West Brom so perhaps he could do the same at the S.o.L.

The good news is that Carlos and Dean are back and getting match fitness, and Leadbitter has been solid this season. Yorke is effective in short bursts, at certain times, when you need the knowledge he possesses. Etuhu seems to have a complete lack of tactical awareness and his passing is somewhat to be desired.

Jones has been a real plus this season, it is fair to say he has taken everyone by surprise. His partner, Chopra, has looked lively, but isn't getting the goals he needs, he really ought to have a few more by this time of the season, and that miss last week didn't help.

It really does show the lack of class we have. Strength in depth yes, class, no. With need a CB, LB, CM and a FC, all of which need to have an element of class - be it experience or potential, we need both.

But, keep the faith we must, and I'm sure we all do. With the set-up we have, the Manager-Chairman partnership working out and the transfer kitty, it should fall into place soon enough. We just have to beat Derby.

Mike Grady.