Apr 16 2013

Match Preview: Sunderland AFC v Everton FC – 20th April 2013

Sunderland-v-evertonSunderland’s Super Sunday may still have the majority of Wearside fans (and players) basking in post-match derby delight; but the Black Cats still need to claw back another six points from the next five games before they can start purring with anticipation about the 2013-14 Premiership campaign.

If the Magpies were Sunderland’s nemesis, then Everton remain their Achilles heel, having not beaten them since 2001 and suffering an FA Cup quarter-final heartbreak against David Moyes’ side at the Stadium of Light last season. How better for Di Canio to polish his halo than mastermind a rare victory against the Toffees. Certainly, the mantra of ‘not changing a winning team’ applies, and baring injuries, it will be surprising if Sunderland don’t retain the same side, with Wickham being accommodated on the bench. However, Vaughan will put McClean’s starting place under pressure following his wonder strike.

Other than the result, the main thing that struck me about the derby performance was the tactical set up, mentality of the team and the pure box office ‘demonic dance of delight’ by Di Canio – surely a slot on Strictly Come Dancing beckons! Having watched the game on Sky, MoTD and then on-line (those three goals just get better and better), I have come up with the Paulo Di Canio’s six steps to success:

  1. Defend higher up the pitch, not in your own penalty area.
  2. Keep the ball on the ground and move it with pace and purpose
  3. The midfield must support the forward, and not linger 20 yards behind him
  4. Have at least four Red and White shirts in every attack
  5. Embrace the three ‘C’s of positive mental attitude – confidence, commitment and concentration
  6. Wear knee pads or a machine washable suit…

It’s just a shame that long-term honorary Mackem, Martin O’Neill, didn’t adopt some of the above rather than defaulting to his sterile safety plus approach when his honeymoon period ended, after achieving seven wins in his first ten games and the best start of any Sunderland manager for over 100 years. I doubt that Di Canio will fall into the same trap given his comments below;

“One midfield player always has to attack the edge of the box so with a rebound, we are not 60 yards or 40 yards from the goal… The system will help this team to cancel out the fact that we don’t have a top scorer who can turn the game on his own. In any instance near the box, we are going to find a way to score, I am sure. The belief is higher that we are going to score enough goals to stay up.”

As demonstrated by Everton’s midweek draw at Arsenal, and their top-6 position which they have maintained throughout 2013, the Toffees have a hard centre and are difficult to beat. Top scorer and Huggy-Bear lookalike, Marouane Fellani (12 goals), full back dynamo, Leighton Baines, and midfield maestro, Leon Osman, would be a welcome addition to any squad. In addition, Chelsea and Man Utd have been credited with an interest in their long-term manager, David Moyes, who may be moving on in the not too distant future after a string of top eight finishes. The Toffees certainly present a sweet template of success for Sunderland.

So its game on and I will be disappointed if the Stadium of Light crowd doesn’t exceed 40,000 and Sunderland reward them with at least a point.

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