It's taken me a couple of weeks to reflect on the issues raised by fanzines, supporter’s groups and the words expressed by Stewart Donald. Unfortunately, I remain lost in what I see as my club being in a vicious circle of uncertainty. I was a big fan of Stewart Donald and what he has done for our club and maybe I still am. I am a member of the Red And White Army (RAWA) and religiously read and contribute to A Love Supreme (ALS) whenever I can, but I'm treading water with all of this, where my emotions lie and who do I pin my colours to.
I fully understand what the supporters want and what they have asked for. I get it. I honestly do. Is it right though? I just don't know to be honest. If I may, I would just like to go back to when the current owners came in and (in my humble opinion) saved our club from potential disaster. I can't pretend to know or understand just how bad a state my beloved Sunderland AFC was in but what I do believe is that SD saved the club from financial meltdown with a huge risk of administration (with a big points deduction) or the unthinkable of closure and expulsion from the league, similar to Bolton and Bury. For that alone, I will be forever grateful to Stewart, Charlie Methven and Juan. However, even though we carry on, I see my club as a Phoenix club but not in name. We have started from scratch once again.
I liked Jack Ross, thought he was good for the club and he done well. I didn't want him to leave (sorry, be sacked) I thought he needed more time. Never mind we move on, more of which later. Obviously, with a run of poor results, Stewart, Charlie and Juan decided to get rid of Jack, but did they succumb to fan pressure then? After all, there was a large number of fans who were chanting for the board to get rid of Jack. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I can't remember the board saying Jack was under pressure. Did they sack him to please us fans? Bring a bit of personal relief for themselves maybe. I get that. I would probably do the same.
So, to the appointment of Phil Parkinson. I was okay with this, maybe being only one of a handful of supporters, but there you go. It might be because I'm getting on in years but considering the position we were in, I thought it was a good appointment. I should keep this to myself, but I still do. Phil Parkinson (PP) has good experience at our level and I believe given time he can bring us success. Yes, initially, results and performances where poor to put it mildly, mistakes were made but don't we all make mistakes? The management of this is to learn from the mistakes made. Recent results may indicate that things are getting better and that PP is learning from his mistakes.
Congratulations are due to everyone. If we have another bad run, then we just pick up as quick as we can and go again. As much as I liked Aiden McGeady if (as has been commented) he showed disruptive behaviour in and around the club, which may have had an adverse effect on others then he had to go. I also read that he was bullying other players and if this is true, then as much as I like him, he has to take his attitude elsewhere. We've had our share of Prima Donnas, we don't need anymore thank you.
I feel it's also interesting to note that a certain Gareth Ainsworth was regularly mentioned as a possible replacement for Jack Ross. I wonder what the supporters would be thinking now if we were on a run of bad form such as Wycombe Wanderers are at this time and would we really be playing as rough as they do? I don't like that thought at all. Would we be demanding his sacking? One to be debated perhaps.
So, now to Stewart and Charlie. Firstly, Charlie. He clearly stated that he was resigning his position due to family reasons. That's fine by me. Why does he have to explain what his family reasons are? It's got nothing to do with me or anyone else. If I leave my job, I don't have to explain to all and sundry what my reasons are.
Stewart has always said he would sell the club if he felt he had overstayed his welcome. Again, I don't have a problem with that. If people think he has been disrespectful to them, the club and the community then I feel that he would be very apologetic. I think he may well be secretly giving us all a two fingered gesture. We welcomed him with open arms, we appreciated his communication with fans be it on a personal basis or on social media. We supported his efforts to rebuild our club. We agreed (well, some of us) with his decision to sack Jack Ross but now we demand he goes and the sooner the better because things have gone a bit tits up.
Now, don't get me wrong. I agree that Stewart has to go but only for his own sanity. Why would anyone want to sort out the mess we were in and then when things on the pitch go a bit pear shaped, be politely (and not so politely) told to get out? Society has changed. Football has changed. Fans are impatient wanting and, in some circumstances, demand immediate changes and positive results. In my 62 years of loving and supporting my Sunderland, I always felt that we, the supporters accepted people making errors and were patient when we so dearly wanted results and performances to improve quickly. Lord knows just how patient we have been. Perhaps, more than ever, we need to be patient now.
I want Stewart to sell the club but only if he feels that the proposed new owners are fit and proper to take over. I don't want a Tom, Dick or Harry to say they have the funds to buy our club when it may not be the case. I certainly don't want overseas owners. I just don't get what they are in it for. So many clubs are now owned by overseas investors who may well have shed loads of money to spend on overrated players, agents and wages but for what? Have massive debts that at some point will not be met, that's what.
We've had an owner from the good old United States of America, but no more please. Clubs lose their identity, that's why United of Manchester FC was formed. I have a number of colleagues who don't attend games anymore because they feel that their club has lost its identity. What does the Etihad, Emirates, King Power, The Reebok, Sports Direct and so many more indicate? How can one identify with that? Remember the owner of Cardiff City changing their home colours from blue to red and Hull City owners wanting to change their name to Hull Tigers? History and identity wiped out in minutes.
Any sale of my club always fills me with trepidation. I so wish that there was a consortium of local business owners who could get together and buy the club but in times of austerity, this may well be a pipe dream but one can live in hope. I want new owners to understand what the club means to the fans, the community and the city. Not someone from far afield who, though may have money to spend cannot look after their own. Thus, I only want Stewart to sell the club when he feels it best to do so and to new owners who will not sell the club, it's employees or the best fans on earth down the Wear.
Take care all at ALS. Forever keeping the faith. Goodnight God Bless Billy Hughes, rest in peace.