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Oh God, what is going on? As if woeful performances against Boro and Fulham weren’t bad enough, SAFC multiplied our misery infinitely by turning in our most gutless and clueless performances against, of all teams, the Mags. Being humiliated by the Skunks in the most galling fashion possible has proved a bridge to far for many people, including Peter Reid who uncharacteristically blasted his players after the derby defeat.

There is discontent on the terraces, and it seems that people are finally starting to recognize that fact. Since the beginning of last season, Sunderland have spent £22m on players, a fact that they are quick to remind us of. Our acquisitions of much needed talent did enough to bring cheer to even the most pessimistic Sunderland fans, especially the late signings of Tore-Andre Flo and Marcus Stewart, but simply spending money is not enough. We must start producing results.

As this magazine hits the streets, we’ve won only one game this season, a well-fought victory at Leeds, and have looked horrendously out of sorts since we battled to a draw against Manchester United. Having bought a number of players in the summer, we now have quality in every area of the pitch and decent cover for most positions too, so it is now down to the management and coaching staff that we play as a team and finally get some points on the board.

Peter Reid is under pressure and ironically, in spite of the money he’s spent, the decision to promote Adrian Heath to assistant manager could prove to be the most important of the past two-months. Wherever Adrian Heath has had a say in the running of the first team affairs he has failed and his appointment as Reid’s number two has had, it seems, a negative effect on our team. Whether the problem is that Heath's style is too similar to that already employed by Reid, or whether he’s merely been in the wrong place at the wrong time, we simply can't say. But results have not improved and the management must start to take responsibility and turn things round quickly.

One only has to look at last season’s Premiership table to see the effects of a bad start to the season. Ipswich town, who finished fourth in 00/01, had a horrendous start to the 01/02 season and despite not having a bad Premiership squad, Town were left trying to pull themselves from the quicksand for the whole season, a task too difficult for them in the end.

After three years in the Premiership and SAFC finally showing the kind of ambition we’d all hoped for, surely we can’t be facing the possibility of Division One football again. Things simply cannot go on as they are and solutions must be found immediately. Four wins since the start of the calendar year speaks for itself and the fans, who are so desperate for SAFC to succeed, will not accept the club’s pleas for patience forever.


The sad demise of the King of Roker

The time has come for Peter Reid to go. The shameful, humiliating disaster against the Mags was a defeat too many and the manner of our loss was appalling. In addition to no goals, few chances and no flair, which we’re already accustomed to, there was also no passion.

Reid himself admitted this after Saturday’s embarrassment but it is a sign of a manager living on borrowed time when he starts blaming the staff he hired for the team’s fallings. Remember when Smith sacked Busby? The Reid apologists, and especially the pundits on Sky and ITV, were quick to jump to his defence and asked us to remember what he had done for the club. Give him a chance to get it right, they say. Fair enough, but Reid’s team has been churning out this crap for for the best part of two years. How many chances does the man deserve?

OK, he’s got us into the Premiership, briefly provided the most exciting attacking football Sunderland have produced in about fifty years and laid the foundations for a successful future, but does he have the ability to make us a true force in the Premiership? It seems more than a coincidence that our fall from grace should happen shortly after Quinny did his back. Quinn’s a football genius, a one-off, and in trying to find another Big Niall, Reid is trying to replace the irreplaceable. The problem is that Reid hasn’t sussed that out yet and we are still playing as if we have got the big fella up front.

It’s time for new tactics, not that we seem to have any at the moment. Whatever the reasons for our downfall, the fact is Reid has had plenty of time to fix things and hasn’t. It took him twenty months just to sign a right-winger and even longer for him to sign a half-decent centre forward to play alongside SKP. On paper, we currently have the best squad we have had in twenty years or so that I have been watching the lads. In Phillips, Piper, Reyna, Sorensen, Wright, Craddock and Arca we have some real talents.

Regardless of this, we are playing some of the most clueless, boring, lily-livered football I have ever witnessed. Is the team sent out with any tactics or is just a case of “Win the tackles and pass the ball, lads”? As a paying customer. I object to seeing mediocre teams come to the SoL and outplay us. Fulham is the most recent example, but it’s happened time and time again. Other Premiership teams have looked fitter, sharper and hungrier, even the likes of already relegated Derby, who we couldn’t beat on the last day of last season. The general standard of our passing is poor, the midfield rarely push into the box and the forwards are left isolated. The list of fallings goes on and on.

If this is apparent to a fan, it should be glaringly obvious to the manager, yet we persist with the same brainless approach. We lack confidence because we can’t score, we can’t score because we don’t make chances and we can’t make chances because we lack confidence. Reid is now threatening to kick backsides and drop players. The last time he did this – after the 4-0 drubbing by Reading – it worked a treat and the team he hit upon by accident gave us unforgettable memories like the play-offs, Quinny’s lob against Port Vale, thumping seven past Oxford, 105 points and parading the Division One trophy in the May sunshine.

Will he be so lucky again? It would be great, but I doubt it. The time has come for Reid to pack his bags and let a new broom come in and freshen things up before it’s too late. If you look at our form going right back to January 2001, there’s only one way we’re going and it’s not up.

David Bohill
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