Managing Expectations

The dust has settled. We move into the acceptance phase of our grief and work along that change curve to a point where we look to the future. The white noise of mags on social media is actually getting to the point where the volume of it is actually making me numb. To be honest I’m becoming a bit snobbish about it. The imaginative prods make me smile “ah that was quite clever actually”. The repeated gifs and retweeted videos make me turn my nose up like a wine snob served a bottle of blue nun. Most of them really need to raise their game.

With this I find I now have space to look to the future. At the time of writing Martin Bain is doing the rounds and is being quite open about the takeover talk. I heard an interview with him on Radio 5 where I got the impression that the camp had changed somewhat. He was presenting a united front with Chris Coleman about the future. He was talking about sitting down with Ellis Short if takeover talks do not materialise into a firm offer. He talked about him and our Welsh water carrier sitting down and challenging Short to come up with a plan to move the club upwards.

My knee jerk reaction was that talks had all broken down and we were stuck with the truant Texan. That may not be the case though. Bain may be preparing us for plan B just in case. In Bain’s position a takeover will, more than likely, mean he will be seeking new employment. A new ownership structure may mean a clean sweep to get rid of any negative images from the Short era. You could argue that is correct and to be honest I have seen little evidence of his effectiveness, even if CC sings his praises. The disparity between transfer fees and agent fees suggests incompetence rather than effectiveness. There is a counter argument though that means perhaps Bain’s hands were tied as tightly as CC’s. Given new ownership maybe we would see a new improved Martin Bain. What Sunderland need now more than ever is a plan.

We have had years of sticking plasters on gaping wounds. I have talked about identity or rather the lack of identity in recent articles. Last night’s Liverpool game got me thinking. In Klopp they brought in a man with a plan. He was criticised for celebrating a draw with West Brom and his early results had many questioning him. Today you look at Liverpool and they have this musketeer like approach to football. It’s swashbuckling and at times reckless. Much of the early conversation around Klopp was how his pressing style would translate to English football. At first it didn’t. Then something changed. He brought in players to fit into a system and is now seeing the benefit of that. Liverpool have an identity now that translates into the football they play.

Compare that with the procession of managers we have had and you soon realise that we could never have done that. We were never ambitious enough to say, “This is what Sunderland are, regardless of who is at the helm.” We switched between different managerial ideas which meant we were always starting from scratch. We bought players that were available rather than players who fitted an ideology. Our relegation is one of two things regardless of who owns the club. It is either an opportunity to say “We are Sunderland and this is what we’re all about” or it’s going to be another case of getting players who don’t fit but happen to be available. I think we would all prefer the former.

Progress is all football fans really ask for. The absence of progress causes frustration and anger and that seeps on to the pitch where the players are too nervous to try anything new for fear of intense criticism. Next season the club needs to show that progress. They need to demonstrate that they have thought things through and are working towards a goal. Intelligence beyond “James Vaughan was promising once, is he available?”

If we can achieve that progress and actively demonstrate it fans will follow. Give us a sign Sunderland. Show us what the plan is. Talk to us. If you lead we will follow.

To celebrate being complete and utter shite once again, we’re bringing bring back this classic t-shirt from the 05/06 season. Looking back to those halcyon days under Mick McCarthy when we managed to amass an incredible 15 points to see us relegated from the Premier League.

Don’t worry we will reach those lofty heights again but until then we can take comfort in the fact that we’re all... still here when we are shit! Hardcore fans and Sunderland till we die, whichever league we are in and whoever owns the club. Players, manager and chairman come and go. Fans remain. We are the club… click here to view product