Football: Derby's day of despair

Derby County 0 Sunderland 5
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The Independent Online
MARVELS of speedy production and esoteric information that they are, the Saturday night newspapers still produced in real football centres do tend, because of their early deadlines, to offer hostages to fortune.

Columns such as Jacob Laursen's in the Derby Evening Telegraph's Green 'Un inevitably have to be composed before afternoon matches have kicked off. So there in Saturday's edition, along with the latest from the Alfreton and District Sunday League, was Derby's Dane explaining why his team's midfielders are likely to score more goals this season: "We are pushing forward more, because our organisation at the back has been sorted out."

At least that provided a much-needed belly laugh for supporters who had just seen Laursen and company reduced to a disorganised rabble in handing Sunderland their biggest victory in three spells as a Premiership club.

When Derby's manager, Jim Smith, eventually appeared at the post-match news conference, it seemed for some time as though "nightmare" was the only word he would be able to utter. Unlike his defenders, he then found some semblance of cohesion in adding: "It was such a passive performance, the worst in my time here. They had six shots, one corner and got five goals. But they had a cutting edge." Passivity must have been hard to take for one of football's legendary tea cup throwers. "I shouted a bit [in the dressing-room]," Smith admitted. "But you can't shout a lot after that to be honest. They should be shouting at each other. We defended very badly."

Although the goals were well taken, all five owed something to poor defending, which had outsiders on pondering the wisdom of allowing Igor Stimac to leave Pride Park. Locals point to his frequent absences through injury, but when West Ham play Sunderland he will surely cope better than his former club did with the different problems posed by the Little and Large of Wearside, Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn.

Not that it will be easy, for they are a formidable combination, as First Division clubs found out last season in conceding 46 goals to them. On Saturday, if Phillips was the hit man, it was again obvious how much disturbance, and space, his Irish partner was creating.

A 4-0 drubbing at Chelsea in the opening game may have had a beneficial effect in making it clear to Sunderland and their supporters - whose aspirations tend to be as unrealistically high as Newcastle's - that they would not stroll to a second successive championship. But, 4-0 up within 55 minutes, 4,000 of those fans could not resist a chorus of: "We're going to win the League," while a Derby follower ran on to the pitch to throw his season ticket down in disgust at the manner of his team's third home defeat in four days.

The concluding act of Phillips' hat-trick, to make him the Premiership's leading scorer, was still to come, after which the evening paper, with its League table showing Sunderland in fourth position, made rather better reading for the visitors than Laursen and the locals.

Goals: McCann (24) 0-1; Phillips (42) 0-2; Phillips (52) 0-3; Quinn (55) 0-4; Phillips (84) 0-5.

Derby County (3-5-2): Hoult; Prior, Carbonari, Laursen; Delap, Eranio (Bohinen, 54), Powell, Johnson, Schnoor (Baiano, h-t); Fuentes, Beck (Harper, h-t). Substitutes not used: Borbokis, Oakes (gk).

Sunderland (4-4-2): Sorensen; Makin, Butler, Bould, Gray; Summerbee, McCann (Rae, 77), Ball (Williams, 60), Schwarz; Quinn (Dichio, 60), Phillips. Substitutes not used: Marriott (gk), Oster.

Referee: P Jones (Loughborough). Bookings: Derby: Delap. Sunderland: Ball, Butler, Dichio.

Man of the match: Phillips.

Attendance: 28,264.

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