Kone grabs hat-trick as Sunderland fall apart
Everton 6 Sunderland 2
Published 02/11/2015 | 02:30
Sam Allardyce has a small white scar that should give him some insurance against days like these.
It came from an operation half-a-dozen years ago when surgeons inserted stents that opened up arteries that were 88pc blocked by alcohol, cigarettes and the sheer stress of football management, where on the touchline his heart would beat at four times its normal rate.
Without the surgery, the damage to Sunderland's latest manager would have been measured in more than just his pride. His team scored twice, struck the woodwork twice and might have been awarded a penalty for handball against Gareth Barry. They also conceded six.
This was Everton's biggest victory in the Premier League since they put seven past Sunderland at Goodison eight Novembers ago. Roy Keane was in charge of Sunderland then and what he remembered about it was how David Moyes did not patronise him afterwards.
Keane, however, was not a central defender. Allardyce was and what he will remember from this afternoon is his centre-backs being sliced apart by Gerard Deulofeu, Romelu Lukaku and, above all, Arouna Koné, who scored a hat-trick.
Koné had begun the season being booed on to the pitch by his own fans against Watford, derided as one of Roberto Martinez's costlier experiments. Yesterday, he doubled his tally of Premier League goals for Everton and walked off with the gaudily-coloured match ball.
The Sunderland side that was demolished 7-1 in 2007 was not relegated and, although the current side remain second bottom, they have enough in attack to make you think they might survive this time round.
Not many struggling sides possess a striker with the ability of Jermain Defoe, who in first-half stoppage-time could control a long pass, take it past Ramiro Funes Mori and drive it home via the tip of John Stones' boot.
There are, however, not too many sides who, having clawed their way back to parity from two down with Steven Fletcher's close-range header, would have collapsed so abjectly.
One of Sunderland's greatest problems was on the team sheet Allardyce handed in.
The starting line-up had been brought to Wearside by four different managers - Steve Bruce, Martin O'Neill, Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat. The only survivor from Paolo di Canio's misrule is the reserve goalkeeper, Vito Mannone.
Unsurprisingly, these not so famous five have amassed a squad with the eighth-highest wage bill in the division.
It was perhaps even less surprising that Allardyce should have blamed "a lack of understanding" among his players.
Having dragged the match back to 2-2, Allardyce thought Sunderland should have dug in and waited for Goodison to turn on the home team.
There were two men who might have impressed this on their own players but neither John O'Shea nor Lee Cattermole were on the pitch.
"Instead, we decided to attack and tossed the game away," Allardyce reflected. "We gave Everton three silly goals in seven minutes.
"Two-two would have felt like a win to a team in our position. We had 17 attempts on goal and 12 of those were on target, but those statistics are going to be worthless unless we learn how to defend."
And yet at the start there had been such optimism among the Sunderland fans in the Bullens Road Stand.
They chanted about the six straight Tyne-Wear derbies they had won. The 3-0 victory at the Stadium of Light had made Allardyce the fourth successive Sunderland manager to have faced and beaten Newcastle in his second game. All four had then lost the next match. (© Independent News Service)