1. I'm All For Zola Power
Serious question : who gets the most credit for this win? Tony Carr or Gianfranco Zola?
2. Magnet Power!
Our formation for this match was devised thusly : Steve Clarke wrote down the names of the nine fit players we had available at the beginning of the day, and the two Japanese tourists who were going to play up front. He then attached these names individually to magnets. Gianfranco Zola then drew a picture of a football pitch on his fridge, and they took turns in throwing said magnets at the door.
If you believe that I am making this up, then I would like to hear from you exactly how we ended up with the players deployed in the manner they were.
To begin with, we put our right back Lucas Neill - fresh from a revitalising 3 day round trip to Australia - in a central midfield role, where his total lack of mobility wouldn't be a factor. We followed this up by playing uber utility man Jonathan Spector at, wait for it ... right back.
Not content with this, the magnet theory decreed that debutant right winger, Junior Stanislas, would be played wide on the left, whilst all round lunatic, the very left footed Luis Boa Morte was naturally set loose on the right side of midfield.
I cannot possibly complain at the result of this game, nor can I grumble too much about how we got it, but I would have to say that we seemed to get there in spite of our formation rather than because of it.
3. The Statistics
Even as I watched this game I turned to Papa Shark with the observation that Sunderland seemed to be having a high number of attempts on our goal, but without looking remotely like scoring. This proved true as the visitors managed 8 goalbound efforts to our 6, although we did manage two more goal attempts overall (18 to their 16).
Strangely, up until the opening goal, Sunderland were well on top as our paper mache midfield was repeatedly sliced open. After Stanislas had scored, however, that was the end of it and the visitors never threatened again. Although possession was split evenly enough, with a 51% share for us, there was no incisiveness about their play, and incredibly they looked less threatening than a team with di Michele and Tristan leading the line. This is inconceivable to most English football fans.
Amusingly, Tristan drew more fouls than any other player in this match despite the fact that he possesses the fluidic movement of a lampost.
4. The Opposition
Like West Brom before them, Sunderland were hoisted on their own, utterly unambitious, petard. Facing a side who aspire to be our 2nd string, they played one up front (Djibril Cisse - who may not even count as one whole striker), and waited for us to make a mistake.
Stupidly, they had ignored both the fact that the strongest part of our team at present is our defence(*) and that Kenwyne Jones is generally a one man wrecking ball against us.
Had they shown even the slightest desire to win this game they probably would have done. Led by 9 year old Grant Leadbitter, they created a number of decent situations in the first half without truly committing themselves to attacking us. When they did break through they were generally repelled by the excellent Robert Green or the even more excellent James Tomkins.
Not that I care much for Sunderland fans, but I felt pretty sorry for them in the second half as their team capitulated like an Icelandic bank. They had it coming mind - Daryl Murphy plays for them fer' crying out loud.
(*) No. 23: Sentences I thought I'd never write.
5. The Referee
I have pondered this section for some time, and the truth is that I cannot recall a single refereeing decision of any note during this game. This in itself is probably a triumph for the official who was none other than, erm, hang on, wait a minute, it's round here somewhere ... Michael Jones.
I've never heard of him. Good stuff - keep it up.
6. Youth Is Wasted On The Young
In the week the club announced that the aforementioned Tony Carr would be granted a testimonial, it was apt that two of his latest proteges were on the scoresheet here. The first goal, however, was crafted in the Mediterranean as di Michele, Tristan and Boa Morte combined beautifully to allow Stanislas a straightforward tap in for his debut goal.
I could point out that Boa Morte was breaking down his natural left side, whilst Stanislas was rushing in from his natural right side - but that would be churlish and beneath me.
Later in the second half, Tomkins rose like a condor on the breeze and headed in an unusually accurate corner from Mark Noble. At this juncture I should point out that £9m goalkeeper Craig Gordon would have saved this if he had any talent, which he doesn't. So he didn't.
7. My Youth Policy
Hey, it's not just Tony Carr who can keep producing kids. Mrs Shark gave birth to Miss Shark Junior Mk III this week which had the doubly satisfying effect of providing me with another healthy daughter as well as distracting me from our typically insipid defeat at tottenham.
I might write a review of that game if I get some time, but frankly ... would you?