Talking Points: A win for the boys in Dubai… so we’re all happy, right?

Talking Points: A win for the boys in Dubai… so we’re all happy, right?

A win is a win – take it, get home and move on…

This will go down as one of the strangest games I’ve ever seen, but to win in Dubai even against a team like Saudi Premier League outfit Al Shabab continues the positive momentum that we revived with the Brum win.

The last league game feels like ages ago now, but picking up this odd win will have helped keep the lads’ eyes up a bit, and their chins up.

The game also gave a number of the players with less fitness and sharpness a chance to get out on the grass (was it grass?) against what looked at times a half-decent side, to build up to the return against Millwall next weekend.

The team didn’t play as well as they can, but when they made nine subs on oranges, it was never likely to be a classic.

We will leave Dubai with the benefit of some team bonding and a very forgettable win, which I suppose is better than trying to forget a potentially morally bad loss.

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship

Aji back in action. It was good.
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Was it worth the risk?

Tackles didn’t take long before we started flying in as we entered the second period and I was left looking for the very poor quality pictures to see if SAFC had sent the boys out in rainbow gear after the break… maybe they decided to make a point about the shaky human rights record of their opponents, as I had hoped they would in a recent roundtable on this whole trip. Something caused the locals to fire in, and it wasn’t pretty.

After several captions and overly physical collisions, the boys had had enough of being hacked down like a Sunday football team, and it started a bit. Gooch picked up a red card with one of his opponents and the game looked set to be abandoned then and there. It resumed, but I’m still in doubt if it should have.

As well as being a PR disaster for the club, personally I don’t think this was worth the trouble or the risk whatsoever. Surely the club could have sorted out a ‘behind closed doors’ game which would have achieved the same or more, and probably wouldn’t have had half the chance of a broken leg, or a broken nose for that matter?

Hopefully Lynden won’t face any retaliation for their red, nobody has any major injuries from the event and we can draw a line under this and get back to league focus very soon.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet Championship

Decent to defend and attack, as demonstrated in Dubai…Goooooch
Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images

Were there any plus points?

There were a couple.

Amad continued his ever-growing good form with a well-taken goal in the first half. The ball from Ba to find him in acres of space was also a sweet one, as was Amad’s run to seal up Ellis Simms. The Manchester United loanee is going from strength to strength and the cool way he jumped inside the defender and halfway brought the keeper down before drilling the ball in was great to watch.

Another player who deserves a shout out in my view is Elliot Embleton. He caused a ton of problems in the first half, hitting the woodwork as well as forcing a save from their keeper (well, I think it was a save – that crap picture suggested to me that he hit the post as well as the crossbar).

The other thing that stood out to me was the standard of our play in the middle. Matete, Pritchard, Ba and Evans all had solid performances, although Pritch once again failed to quite convert a good chance, putting it just over the top corner from a free-kick. I would have loved him to have converted it as we need him to convert more set pieces into goals, but he played well overall.

An honorable mention also for Aji Alese who looked good when he returned to the back line. With him and Cirkin back in December and beyond, we should be in a way better space across the defense.

Sunderland v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship

Well played Embo
Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Anything else to mention?

The cameraman… or rather, the lack of one.

The club asking someone to pay for that stream was a disgrace and all those who wanted the game canceled were justified in that opinion based solely on the quality of the service that appeared on Friday afternoon. I’ve heard rumors that refunds are on the way and that’s the least the club should do.

If you plan to stream a friendly, SAFC, take a lad with you with a proper kit and do a decent job, for God’s sake! One more thing to make us look ridiculous was not necessary, especially after all the tough stuff to get to this point.

A lesson for the future – if you pull a guy out of the sunken bar with the iPhone 14 pro max and ask him to sit on the scaffolding for a couple of hours, you get what you pay for. This guy will obviously be trying to watch the World Cup matches on his other gadget while balancing his £20 a pint warm lager on the scaffolding planks, obviously forgetting to film the action between sips.

The sharp picture, terribly poor follow-through of the action and lack of sound were annoying to anyone who tried to watch, but that’s behind us now.

Let’s focus on getting ready for Millwall, train hard this week, and carry on until Santa arrives and beyond.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

Well played again Amad.
Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

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