TWITTER is of course where we get all our news today. If you want to find out the name of a politician falsely accused of being a paedophile, or how much Piers Morgan is prepared to pay to some charity if he wins a bet over Alan Sugar, then Tweetland it is.
Martin O’Neill doesn’t have an account, but he was trending for a while on Saturday night, which is quite an achievement when the X Factor is on.
A rumour suggested the Sunderland manager had quit his job. It was utter nonsense. But interestingly, few Sunder-land fans were too surprised – and there weren’t too many disappointed.
O’Neill’s popularity among supporters at the moment is on the low side. Not with every fan, but there are too many for comfort who have all but run out of patience after what one main stand punter described as “seven months of s***.”
The guy shouted this with ten minutes left on Saturday after Romelu Lukaku’s penalty made it 3-1 to West Brom. He was leaving early. He was not the only one.
Back to social media and the Sunderland Fanzine A Love Supreme said: “Lost because of a good strike, an unfortunate ‘keeping error and a penalty. To a side who beat Chelsea last week. Not a disaster . . . ”
When does losing four goals at home not constitute a disaster?
Taken in isolation, losing to one of the best teams in the Premier League, who scored a fluke and won a penalty that never was, is no big deal. But Sunderland have won only twice in the league all season, and if Saturday’s defeat was unfortunate, then the 3-1 win at Fulham last week was one of the most fortunate in their recent history.
It should also be said John O’Shea could easily have been sent off before 20 minutes when Shane Long was booked, incorrectly, for a dive when the Irishman, who was already on a yellow card, had tripped him.
And now QPR, a truly awful and disjointed team who have won exactly zero matches in the Premier League, come to Wearside.
Harry Redknapp will be in charge tomorrow night and if he can get any sort of positive result from the match then the question won’t be at what time will the fans leave before the final whistle, it will be when will they come back?
Things need to change. The Journal asked O’Neill after the game whether he was going to do a lot of business in January.
He said: “I haven’t given it much thought. There are so many games coming up between now and the New Year and my focus is on those games more than anything else.”
Sunderland fans will hope this is not true. This is a squad that desperately needs added to.
Neither the Sunderland manager nor club owner Ellis Short has a choice. They need to spend money when the transfer window opens. And they need to bring in established first-team players.
Not another James McFadden, who wasn’t even on the bench for the West Brom game, and not Louis Saha, who is nothing more than an impact player.
Sunderland need to bring in people who will walk straight into that team, or face a relegation battle.
A defender, an attacking midfielder, preferably with a left foot, and another goalscorer is required. These players don’t come cheap, but you should see how expensive relegation is.
O’Shea is out for a few weeks and captain Lee Cattermole is struggling as well. Wes Brown might not kick a ball this season.
This squad can’t lose three key players at the same time. Even if they were fit and raring to go, it would still look threadbare compared to most other clubs – West Brom included.
When you pick out the bones from this game then you will find positives – just not enough of them.
Stéphane Sessègnon was excellent, as was Danny Rose who has hardly put a foot wrong since joining from Tottenham on loan.
There was no goal for Steven Fletcher, but he was really sharp, and Carlos Cuellar had a much better game.
But the fact of the matter was West Brom, under the canny leadership of Steve Clarke, were the stronger side.
Sunderland had started well, but Zoltan Gera’s superb shot on the half-hour mark, when he was given way too much time, put Fulham in the lead.
What happened just before half-time was extraordinary. Simon Mignolet seemed to leap on a ball that had come into his area from a overly strong pass from Chris Brunt, and it slipped out of his hands like a bar of soap. Shane Long could hardly believe his luck.
Sunderland did have a real go and when Craig Gardner’s free-kick, via a deflection off the head of Marc-Antoine Fortune, sailed into the net, the comeback was on with 17 minutes remaining.
But then referee Mike Dean did West Brom a major favour when he pointed to the spot despite Adam Johnson having made no contact with Liam Ridgewell, although the Sunderland man did himself no favours by going in for a tackle from behind his opponent.
The cool Lukaku was never going to miss from 12 yards.
But Sunderland fought back again. Sessègnon got it back to 3-2 when sent the ball into the roof of the net from close range after West Brom keeper Boaz Myhill had kept out Fletcher’s header.
Even with just a few minutes to go, you sensed Sunderland still had a goal in them.
But with their last attack, a ball was played out to Johnson who was in a good position to make a cross into a pack penalty area, but he hadn’t managed to get back from an offside positions; it’s moments like this that must make O’Neill despair.
West Brom counterattacked and Fortune produced a nice finish just to finish off another bad day for the Black Cats.