2017 will go down as one of the worst years in the club's history, remembered mainly for relegation, redundancies, an absentee owner, a charlatan chief executive and a squad of players so spineless and inept they’d make our infamous ’19 pointers’ blush.
And that’s without even mentioning the two clowns in the dugout. 2017 was the year our luck finally ran out and the years of boardroom mismanagement caught up with us, but it wasn’t helped in the least by the arrogant and defeatist Moyes and the bumbling and buffoon-like Simon Grayson.
Moyes spent the majority of the season plotting his own escape, but not before rubbishing his own January signings, threatening to slap a female reporter and broadcasting to the world that our star striker had a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for free in the probable event of relegation.
Spirits were temporarily lifted in May when Moyes eventually packed his trunk and said goodbye to the circus, but it quickly became apparent that a) nobody wanted to buy the club, b) nobody wanted to manage the club, and c) the current owner had no interest in investing further. Grayson eventually replaced Moyes, but it showed how far we’d fallen when online debate on the afternoon of the appointment centred not on Grayson’s skills or capabilities, but instead whether or not he’d shave off the ridiculous receding haircut he'd sported at Preston that made him look like the lovechild of Bobby Charlton and Terry Nutkins.
Five months, 15 games and 1 (away) win later, Grayson departed with the club propping up the league. Robbie Stockdale had a brief spell in charge as caretaker amidst talk of Ally McCoist or another joker of that ilk taking charge permanently.
Instead, we appointed Chris Coleman.
And I have to admit, I was sceptical. There’s no disputing the tremendous work Coleman did with Wales, but club management is a different animal altogether.
But based on what I’ve seen and heard so far, Coleman has impressed me. Despite the league position, I’m confident we’ve finally got the right man in charge to lead us forward. Without going all ‘Rafalution’ over him, I like the cut of his jib.
He speaks with authority and encourages accountability, but does so with the warmth and charm that Moyes never had. There’s an air of Allardyce about him, who never hid his desire to manage England but made it his number one priority from day one to improve the defence and eek out clean sheets.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the most popular, most successful and well-regarded Sunderland managers in my lifetime are the ones who bought into the club and embraced the challenges that it brings. Nor is it any coincidence that the least successful and most disliked were the ones who distanced themselves from the job and shied away from getting their hands dirty, so to speak.
I don’t want or expect managers to blow smoke up our arses or shower us with false platitudes, but we’re an easy target and get enough of a kicking from the press as it is. I want the manager to fight our corner and take personal responsibility when things go right or wrong. I don’t want the manager to play the club down or play up to the media narrative of us being unmanageable.
That’s why Coleman has quickly won over the fans and the other two losers didn’t. Take results out of the equation and compare their body language and demeanour. One wants to be here and is desperate to succeed. One was desperate to get away, and the other couldn’t believe he’d talked his way into being here and appeared happy to put up with any old rubbish to keep himself in a job.
The situation we’re in is still desperate, and barring an unlikely change of heart from the owner, the same one-paced, weak-willed, ‘heads drop as soon as they concede a goal’ plodders who got us into this mess will still be here for the foreseeable future.
But for the first time in a long time, the manager isn’t part of that problem. Instead, he’s part of the solution, and that’s something I could never have said last year.