Former Black Cats midfielder McClean celebrated in front of the travelling fans and was confronted by Danny Graham and Lee Cattermole. McClean claimed he was ‘hung out to dry’ by Sunderland over his decision not to wear a Remembrance Day poppy on his shirt during a game against Everton in 2012. Allardyce, their eighth manager in the last six years including caretakers, has been parachuted in to save them from the drop, which has seemed inevitable for the past three seasons. He got an immediate reaction, though, with the Black Cats comfortably the better side in the first half. Cattermole and Steven Fletcher both had shots blocked before the visitors were denied by Myhill’s brilliance. Yann M’Villa and Fletcher were involved in keeping the ball alive in the Baggies’ box before Myhill produced a superb reaction save to turn Jones’ six-yard header over. It was, though, the only moment of quality during a turgid first half which only lived up to the pre-match billing. Sunderland kept Albion contained with their midfield strong and organised, giving the hosts little opportunity to break through. Craig Dawson ballooned a shot into the stand nine minutes before the break to sum up the lack of quality, with only Sessegnon a sporadic threat with his direct running for Albion. But nine minutes after the re-start the game sparked into life thanks to Pantilimon’s clanger. The keeper came out to claim a routine cross from Chris Brunt under the slightest pressure from Berahino. But the Romanian dropped the centre on to the back of John O’Shea’s leg and it ran for Berahino to poke in from three yards. It sapped the confidence from Sunderland and, while M’Vila tested Myhill from distance with 13 minutes remaining, there was little fightback. West Brom were allowed, without serious scares, to see out the game and left Allardyce in no doubt about the size of the task he faces. And after the final whistle McClean celebrated in front of the visiting fans and had to be pulled away by Craig Gardner after being confronted by several Sunderland players. TWEET OF THE MATCH “Sunderland are losing. Allardyce out!” – Jon Benjamin @JonBenjamin19 https://twitter.com/JonBenjamin19/status/655400779940036608 PLAYER RATINGS West Brom Boaz Myhill: 7 Craig Dawson: 6 Jonny Evans: 6 Gareth McAuley: 6 Chris Brunt: 6 Claudio Yacob: 6 Darren Fletcher: 6 James McClean: 6 Stephane Sessegnon: 6 Saido Berahino: 7 Salomon Rondon: 6 Subs: Rickie Lambert: 6 Craig Gardner: 6 Sunderland: Costel Pantilimon: 5 Billy Jones: 6 Younes Kaboul: 6 John O’Shea: 6 DeAndre Yedlin: 6 Sebastian Larsson: 6 Lee Cattermole: 6 Yann M’Vila: 6 Jordi Gomez: 6 Fabio Borini: 6 Steven Fletcher: 6 Subs: Danny Graham: 6 Adam Johnson: 6 Jermain Defoe: 6 STAR MAN Saido Berahino – The striker scored his third – and possibly easiest – goal of the season to earn a important victory for West Brom. He lined up on the left to start with lone striker Salomon Rondon and did his best to support during a poor first half. But the England Under-21 international got a slice of luck when Costel Pantilimon presented him with a gift of a goal in the second half. MOMENT OF THE MATCH Sam Allardyce would have known the task ahead of him but it was only made harder by Pantilimon’s gaffe which allowed Berahino to score. The striker stood his ground against the keeper as Pantilimon came for a cross but the former Manchester City stopper should have been much stronger. Instead he dropped the ball into Berahino and then John O’Shea and it ran for the former to poke into an open goal. Compare it to Boaz Myhill’s vital save from Billy Jones in the first half and the difference was obvious. MOAN OF THE MATCH Pantilimon was booked for complaining to referee Martin Atkinson in the aftermath of Berahino’s goal. Replays showed the keeper had dropped it onto the striker’s arms but it was hardly deliberate from the 22-year-old who benefited from the keeper’s generosity. Pantilimon was trying to cover his embarrassment by arguing with Atkinson and only continued to dig himself into a deeper hole. VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT There was no instant change for Sunderland in Allardyce’s first game in charge but the manager would have been pleased with their first-half display. He would have despaired, though, at Pantilimon’s error while Tony Pulis saw the pressure lift following a struggling start. He will have to talk to James McClean about his post-match celebration, though, which sparked a scuffle between the two sides. WHO’S UP NEXT? Norwich v West Brom (Barclays Premier League, Saturday October 24) Sunderland v Newcastle (Barclays Premier League, Sunday October 25) Press Association It was a flashpoint in an otherwise dull game as Sam Allardyce took charge of Sunderland for the first time, but could only watch in horror as his goalkeeper tossed away what would have been a valuable point at The Hawthorns. Pantilimon dropped a Chris Brunt cross to allow Saido Berahino to seal a 1-0 win and leave Sunderland rooted in the Barclays Premier League’s relegation zone. In contrast, victory lifted Albion seven points clear of the bottom three and lifted any early-season pressure on boss Tony Pulis. Defeat only underlined the size of the job Allardyce has to keep the Black Cats in the top flight as he watched them match the Baggies for much of the game, only to be undone by a mistake. Boaz Myhill saved well from Billy Jones in the first half, but Pantilimon’s gaffe was in keeping with a scrappy, uninspiring match which was littered with mistakes. Allardyce recalled Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Larsson for the suspended Sebastian Coates and Jeremain Lens while Jordi Gomez also got the nod. Stephane Sessegnon was handed a surprise start for the hosts, having not even played a league game for the Baggies since April. The Black Cats celebrated their 136th birthday on Saturday, but have been showing their age following their constant relegation struggles. James McClean sparked a melee at the final whistle after Costel Pantilimon’s error gifted West Brom a vital win over Sunderland.
Kevin HagstromHaving endured 27 roars by the Nittany Lions for every Penn State first down during last Saturday’s football game, I began sifting through the worst chants or in-game sound bites in sports. One of the first that popped up is close to home: “First-and-10 Wisconsin.” As mind-numbing as repeating exactly what the PA announcer said is, at least it’s well-known. The chant I’m about to throw out on a whim, however, makes sense to no more than a handful of people. Plus, it’s a good thing that it doesn’t go down on the field. We’re not talking about practice; we’re talking about the School of Practical Science of Toronto University’s chant. Never heard of it? Well, duh. No one else has either, which is why the chant is so ridiculous — “Who are we? Can’t you guess? We are from the S.P.S.!”Now who in his right mind comes up with a chant that means little without explanation? And no, I can’t guess.The School of Practical Science may be good at math and applied sciences but by golly, it sure doesn’t know how to communicate ideas in a clear and concise manner; it’s asking for trouble by formulating the chant into several questions followed by a vague acronym. It’s like saying to Michigan running back Mike Hart after talking to him once, “Remember me? I’m Kevin.” He isn’t going to know what’s going on or who I am. Nor will he care. “Why have a cheer? It doesn’t make sense. Can you believe it? S.P.S. is quite dense.”Ben VoelkelIn the vast world of sports arenas, certain characteristics and traditions stand out and eventually become synonymous with the team and arena. What would an Oakland Raiders game be without the Black Hole or a Detroit Red Wings game without octopi on the ice after a hat trick?The same goes for in-game sound bites and chants. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Raymond James Stadium is known for the pirate ship that fires a cannon after the home team scores a touchdown. What would a Minnesota Vikings game at the Metrodome be without the god-awful, obnoxious Viking horn noise? A little easier on the ears possibly, but it would still be missing that something. And even a little closer to home, a Badger football Saturday without “Eat shit, fuck you” echoing off the walls of Kellner Hall and Camp Randall’s upper deck would mean an unusual PG-13 atmosphere.But just because it is tradition, doesn’t mean it’s good. As bad as the Vikings horn is, that pales in comparison to the worst chant at a sports event.That distinction goes to DE-TROIT BASKET-BALL.No, caps lock didn’t stick. The chant, a creation of Pistons’ public address announcer John Mason, might be OK if it wasn’t repeated seemingly every time the Pistons take control of the ball. Opposing team’s center dribbles the ball off his foot and out of bounds one minute into the game: DE-TROIT BASKET-BALL. Chauncy Billups gets swatted, but the ball goes out of bounds, and the Pistons keep it: DE-TROIT BASKET-BALL. The home team gets the ball to start the third quarter: DE-TROIT BASKET-BALL. It’s not just the repetition that makes it worst, but the painful, arrogant tone in which it’s done. DE-TROIT BASKET-BALL. COU-NT I-T!
Angel Di Maria will provide an ailing Manchester United with plenty of missing qualities following his big-money move from Real Madrid — pace, energy, incisiveness and goals.Just don’t expect instant miracles from the Argentina midfielder.”I hope he shall give us good results,” Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal said at Di Maria’s official presentation on Thursday, “but we cannot expect after two days’ training that he is the miracle what I already read.”No, you have to work for the miracle and he knows that.”At its lowest ebb since the late 1980s, United is attempting to buy its way out of trouble with Di Maria’s arrival for 59.7 million pounds ($99 million) taking the 20-time English champions’ spending to about 130 million pounds ($215 million).And investment is definitely required. After missing out on European football this season with a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Premier League in May, United slumped to a 4-0 loss to third-tier club MK Dons in the League Cup on Tuesday — one of the most embarrassing results in its history.Such is the prestige and history of United that it was still able to attract one of the world’s top players in Di Maria, who helped Madrid become European champion for a 10th time last season.That’s the level Di Maria hopes he will soon be returning to with United.”I come to Manchester United in order to help the team raise their game and become an important team again,” Di Maria said through a translator.Before his presentation, a highlight reel was played of Di Maria’s best moments during Madrid’s two legs against United in the Champions League two seasons ago. There was the whipped cross for Cristiano Ronaldo’s headed goal. A piece of skill to evade Phil Jones. A dribble around Patrice Evra before unleashing a fierce shot that flew just wide. But the most obvious quality on show was his work rate and relentless energy from midfield.”It is important that he is a team player and that is what I’m liking in Di Maria,” Van Gaal said. “Not only class — he can accelerate the game for us — but he can also play in the interests of the team and that is why we have chosen for this player.”He is a very modest guy and he wants to work. He showed that also last year — he played 52 matches and gave 22 assists. How many players can say that? Twenty-two assists. Then you are also a very social being and in the football world, that is also the case.”Di Maria’s debut is likely to come at Burnley on Saturday, when United goes looking for a first win of the Premier League season after losing to Swansea and drawing at Sunderland.He will be wearing the iconic No. 7 shirt previously donned by club greats Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, George Best and Eric Cantona. Instead of providing added pressure, that simply gives Di Maria added pride.”I was aware of the importance of the No. 7 shirt, Cristiano Ronaldo had spoken to me at Real Madrid and told me how important it was,” Di Maria said. “I wanted to wear this shirt and do as much for the club as Ronaldo and the others could do. The club also wanted me to wear it so I want to live up to it.”Van Gaal also hinted that there will be plenty of comings and goings in United’s squad before the transfer window shuts on Monday.”I had a conversation after lunch with the players and I said maybe after this weekend, we shall have another group because players shall go away and others shall come in,” the Dutchman said.