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Monday, November 05, 2007

All Addicks Day

Before we start, and to put everyone in the right mood, there's a cracking report in the guardian this morning. For some reason we've never been their favorite team but Jeremy Alexander tries to put the past behind him with a report full of praise. Pards half-time speech is revealed - "go on and hurt them" - and there's a nice little table of stats that confirms that we did just that with a staggering seven yellows instead of the six that most papers gave us.
And because of the card-happy Mr Hill we're jumped to 3rd in the naughty boys table with another red that will unfortunately mean a bit of a resuffle for Pards tomorrow night.
Yes, that's right. In this crazy League there's just too many teams and too many internationals - there's no international breaks for Tier Two in Spain for example - so we have another three games in 8 days before 14 days with none in another 2 week break. And we don't need to remind anyone that tomorrow its another tough away game.
But Pards won't be caring who it is, to him its just another 3 pointer and he'll be well aware of the need to win. Because, although he'll be more than pleased to have put a three game, pointless run, behind him, those defeats to Wolves, Plymouth and QPR have seriously damaged the possibility of our finishing in the top two.
Back in August Pardew outlined his aims - 26 wins - for the season. No mean feat but he's already worked out that although a total of say 75 points should be enough to reach the Play-offs, we'll need well over 80 to grab a top two spot.
Last season there were three teams well out in front and Sunderland finished with 88 points, Birmingham - with 26 wins - on 86 points and Derby on 84. That's an average for Sunderland of 1.9 points per game.
After our 1-1 draw with Barnsley, we were annoyed by the last minute equaliser but we were sitting pretty in 2nd spot and had 19 points from 10 games which gave us exactly the magic figure, 1.9 per game. But now its all changed and after another 4 games and just 3 points we're dropped not only to 5th but our points average is now a dismal 1.57 per game. If we continue at this rate till seasons end we'd end up with 72 points. Last season that would get you 9th position and thats no good to anyone.
Now these may appear to be only dull figures hammered out on a calculator but they reveal the very reason that Pardew took off the defensive Semedo at half-time against QPR, while drawing 0-0, and put on the attacking Jerry Thomas. He may admit now that it was a rash mistake but he knew that a draw was no good, he needed the 3 points and the same was true against Southampton.
How ironical that this time the same formation change was forced upon him by Semedo's red card but the truth is he persisted for 40 minutes with the same logic - an attack minded team with two wide men, Thomas and Sam. Another rash decision against a team that has scored in its last 31 games? You can argue so but fortune favours the brave and perhaps that's just what you need to get out of this poxy League.

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