It’s never dull at Sunderland, but the last few weeks have been pretty crazy even by our standards. To me it feels like the beginning of the end of a relationship. The arguments are more and more frequent. We are all looking round to see what’s ours and what’s theirs and we remember the good times with rose tinted specs, believing that it was better than it actually was. We were a heartbroken, battle scarred, a desperate mess. Stewart Donald was our rebound, he was supposed to be everything Ellis Short wasn’t.
The wave of optimism from the Wolves game on the last game of the season when the takeover was announced was a tidal wave of positivity, it picked most of us up and we rode it. When you reach rock bottom there’s two ways you can go. Any chance that it will turn and you will grab it with both hands and cling on for dear life.
One lingering thought that keeps coming back to me is that last season started off better than we expected. Had we struggled early on and eventually got going and finished in the play off positions maybe the season wouldn’t have been looked upon as a failure. I hand on heart didn’t expect to be fighting for top two. Unfortunately, we fell short, Checkatrade hangover? Too many games? Playing catch-up? Not good enough? Probably a combination of all of them.
Had we done it, where would we be now? If we did get up would we have secured investment? Would we of made a fist of Championship survival? My personal opinion is no, I think the ship still wasn’t steady enough. Regardless of whether we secured investment or a takeover. We are all more than well aware that cobbling together a team in just one transfer window very rarely works. To be successful you need a core to add to, tweak and slowly faze the less able players out and handpick the players who can take you to the next level. Wholesale changes take time to click and as we have often seen in our great escape seasons it takes us until halfway through a season to adapt to our system/ new squad.
When we eventually do get out of this league. I hope we never return. I want to look back on this time as a cleanse of our club. Getting rid of the Ndongs, Kones and the Rodwells. For us not to return to this level we have to get this right. Our first season back in the Championship will be crucial. So as much as I’m desperate for us to get up. The foundations need to be set in stone for us to build an empire back up. If we have to have another season down here, I could accept it as long as that meant we never play at this level again.
All of this recent unrest has led for me to question why this club means so much to me. It’s easy to forget the good times when it’s bad. I think back to “Bristanbul” highlighted in the Netflix doc. Watching the lad celebrate in his living room choked me, probably because I was doing the same thing in my house when we got the third goal. That result actually mattered very little in the end but at the time it felt like we could do it.
My fatha still tears up when he sees Monty’s double save in ‘73. I still remember running towards the pub window and banging on it telling him that Sorensen had saved Shearer’s penalty. Looking over the sea of fans at Trafalgar, I took a moment to myself to take it all in, there was a break in the singing and just a buzz of noise of people chatting and laughing.
Times like these I remember why I’m so proud to support this club. I’ve seen fans fall out, argue over line ups, who we should sign and even tactics. But one thing that unites us is our love for this magnificent club. It may need a bit of work to get it back to where we want it, but when have we ever been frightened of a bit graft. When we are together, we are stronger. We all want the good times to come back, but it isn’t going to be overnight. Owners come and go but we will still be here.
Keeping the Red flag flying high.