Bruce’s class of ’09 look better than Reid’s heroes

14 September 2009 09:41
SUNDERLANDS emphatic 4-1 triumph over Hull City not only represented the Wearsiders finest start to a Premier League campaign, and equalled their biggest ever home victory, but the performance also suggests that the Black Cats can go on to accomplish anything of their predecessors efforts.

Nine points from the opening five top flight fixtures surpasses the eight achieved by Peter Reids side at the start of the 2001-02 season.

More significantly, perhaps, is that it also exceeds the seven points accumulated when the Black Cats stormed to their highest ever Premier League finish of seventh ten years ago.

While supporters wont be getting too carried away yet, after all, it was just a comfortable home victory over a side that will struggle to maintain its Premier League status, they can confidently feel that Steve Bruces side is the strongest they have witnessed since the halcyon days of Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips.

The similarities between Peter Reids class of 99 and Bruces class of 09 are unmistakable.

They both had, and have, uncompromising managers; a dogged and determined willingness to win, built on foundations of hard work, and two very capable strikers.

Yet while there are similarities there are subtle differences between the teams too Bruces men have a bit more craft and guile than Reids charges.

The clubs former boss did have Alan Johnson and Nicky Summerbee, weaving their magic on the wings of course, but in Andy Reid, who was superb on Saturday, Kieran Richardson and Steed Malbranque the Wearsiders have a little bit more consistency, composure, creativity and class.

Hull boss Phil Brown believes so too. He gave the team he supported as a boy a glowing endorsement after the contest, which was unusual, given he graduated from the same Im great me school of narcissistic football management as Sam Allardyce.

The league will be three leagues: the top four, the middle four and the bottom 12,

said South Shields-born Brown. Sunderland are making a big play for that middle four.

Brown also picked out the disruptive influence of Black Cats action man Lee Cattermole as pivotal in the home sides win, rather than the more obvious choice of goalscorer Darren Bent.

I think the lad Cattermole makes a big difference, massive difference, said the Hull boss. He obviously made his intentions clear in the first five minutes when he went through one or two of our players.

He picks them up and dusts them down. It is the old fashioned style of football.

Ive got no qualms where that is concerned. He certainly put his stamp on the game.

I believe the winning goal that Kenwyne Jones scored against Blackburn was Cattermole going down the line and crossing with his left foot, so he has a lot in his locker.

That is why you pay £6m for midfielders like that.

But while Cattermole and skipper Lorik Cana dominated the middle of the park their work would have been fruitless without Sunderlands creative players making and taking their chances.

Bent will obviously take the plaudits for two fine strikes, one from the penalty spot after 13 minutes and a cool finish 11 minutes after the break, but Reid was by far the games best player.

The former Spurs midfielder made two goals, direct from corners, and netted a fine finish himself.

Bruce acknowledged the new slim-look midfielders merits.

He said: Andy Reid has had to be a little bit patient but hes got himself into good physical condition, and now he looks like a football player.

And I dont mean that disrespectfully.

We all know hes got quality, but now hes got the physical attributes you need to play in the Premier League.

The Black Cats boss, however, was refusing to get carried away by his sides impressive start to the embryonic new term.

Im never going to predict that (more 4-1 wins), said Bruce who was not aware the result equalled Sunderlands biggest Premier League home victory.

I think the Premier League is so hard and for times in that game it was nip and tuck when Hull scored. In the end weve run out comfortably.

The one thing Ive learned, and Ive been in it a few years now, is that if you think youve cracked it youre going to get your arses kicked the next week.

We wont get carried away, it was a good win and weve had a good start but well go back to work on Monday and try and improve.

One area the 49-year-old hopes to improve on is the teams defending of set pieces.

The hosts conceded yet another goal from a corner when Hull defender Kamil Zayatte lost his marker, a minute before the break, to level the score.

The Sunderland boss confessed his sides inability to defend from these situations is a long-standing concern.

He said: The good thing for me is that defensively we havent given much away but weve conceded from corners.

How the hell you do that and improve that

Weve tried all sorts of different ways, what with two on the post and man for man but it is an Achilles heel so we will have to come up with something.

But it was a lack of concentration from Lorik, it was his man, he lost him when he went underneath the ball.

And that little lack of concentration has cost us.

But thankfully it wasnt costly as it was at Stoke and as it was for the first goal against Chelsea so we have to improve on that.

Bruce has gone some way to addressing the situation by bringing in Michael Turner from Hull.

The £6m capture made an admiral debut and capped his fine display with a goal, albeit deflected off Zayatte.

Ive brought him (Turner) here because he is a big headerer of the ball and hes got a goal, said Bruce.

Hes always capable of that and thats why I brought him here.

Hes that old-fashioned type of centre half. But the one thing Ive been pleasantly surprised with is that hes very decent on the ball too. He never really gives the ball away.

Sunderland climbed to sixth in the table after the win and with winnable fixtures at Burnley and at home to Wolves to come, the Black Cats could be clawing at the Champions League places by the end of the month.

Has no one mentioned the E word yet

Source: Northern_Echo