What a ridiculous waste of an afternoon that was. Worst performance of the season? Spineless? A consequence of fragmented selection? Poisoned by lasagne?
Yeah sure, injuries aside, I still fancied us pre-match. Around about the 37 second mark I conceded that today would be shambolic and that conceded my confidence was cursed. To which it was.
Players looked lethargic and dis-interested. When Frazier Campbell is made to look like quality you know there has to be something surreal going on. In this case, the Spurs players appeared to drift away into next weekend and their FA Cup semi-final date. Knees trembling, for all to see.
Even a second half improvement (just about noticeable) wasn't enough, neither were the heroics of Gomes who saved two penalties, although he was probably guilty for that 36 second opener as he could have done better. Maybe that's a tad harsh. It smelt a goal the moment they got a corner. A preview of the pattern of the game that would play out over the 90 minutes. Us, willing Sunderland on, to have a pop at any given moment they chose.
Talking of pens, the ref was abysmal. One of the three he gave (the 3rd) was a no brainer - the first two were weak weak decisions. Although he sort of made amends for disallowing a 3rd Sunderland goal, which didn't matter because when Sunderland did score their third it was almost worthy of applauding, such was its genius. It's horrible horrible genius. A volley that will no doubt when goal of the month. Ref was also reluctant to dish out yellow cards. Although Wilson came out of the game without one. Small mercies.
Crouch cameo the only worthwhile moment to give us a glimmer of hope. Gomes proving that even though Bent believes he has banished the Sandra sound-bite by notching a brace and celebrating with much venom, he's still an idiot with a stupid beard (honestly, I have nothing more at the moment). His face after his second pen miss, a picture. The only picture I'll be choosing to remember cometh tomorrow. Defoe might have done better with a one-on-one, Gordon to the rescue, who then saved another goal-bound effort moments later. Bentley header in the first half, easily saved. Not sure there was anything else, offensively, for us.
There's probably plenty to analyse and discuss, and I had notes from the game and was planning on singling out one or two players who struggled and the detrimental impact the missing players had on the team - something I sort of refused to dwell on too much as a potential excuse pre-match.
Stuff like our inability to retain possession, control the ball, play with any type of shape, show any sustained intent and courage. Bassong missing Dawson. BAE lacking confidence. Palacios messy. Bale lacking composure with his passing. All-round clusterfuck to be fair.
Credit to Sunderland. Talk about making it an easy afternoon for them. If they had a better forward up front, it could have been humiliating (haha, yeah, still bitter). Jones air-kick testament to how stupid we and his owners were back when a £20M label was being tagged on his shirt. But they still won and Bent has taken his revenge, no doubt he'll be gutted he won't be able to Tweet about it.
So yeah, no deep thinking post-match tactical breakdown. The players never switched on. They hardly looked bothered. So if this was a pre-Wembley type of 'ooh let me try not to get injured' performance, then shame on all. Or perhaps I should just admit I was wrong and having so many players out has damaged us. Pompey might even fancy us now (j/k).
I just don't want to believe that we under-performed because the FA Cup was made a collective priority subconsciously by all who took the field. So I'll have to hug the excuse that the lack of Dawson, Corluka and Huddlestone and the forced re-shuffle has made us momentarily poop our pants.
Pushed, bullied, kicked and out-played. At least its done and out of our system. 5 wins on the trot halted and today makes it just 8 defeats all season in the Prem. Not bad. But we are no longer in the driving seat for 4th. Don't fret. I'm not knee-jerking. I've been saying it for a while, we'll still finish 4th. Just have to do things the hard way now.
Maybe conceding that goal so early was a catalyst, but to suggest had it not been scored we might have performed better is a bit like hoping that having gone 1-0 down we'd get back into the game. It won't happen unless you make it happen.
Tragic we failed to turn up for this. I'd rather we play beautifully and with effort and desire, and if we lose at least we can say we gave it some. Rather than just lube up and bend over.
What's that? City, 4 up at Burnley after 20 minutes? 5 up at half-time? Our goal-difference nervously looking over its shoulder? Although it's now City looking over their shoulder at us.
Okay, we really do have to do it the hard way now.