Papy/Murray/Ross

So Papy Djilobodji's finally agreed a financial package to leave Sunderland and posted the following on his Instagram account: "Alhamdouli Ilah. Always believe in God!!!” Meanwhile, a more formal club statement read: “Sunderland AFC has reached an agreement with Papy Djilobodji for his departure, his employment having terminated on 21 September 2018.” It is a boost for Sunderland who had expected and budgeted for the players to leave long before now.

 

Elsewhere, Sir Bob Murray has been chatting about his reasoning behind choosing the name, The Stadium of Light. Initially the name was not popular with fans, mainly because it was not original, but I guess people got used to it. Murray said: “I chose the connection to light for two main reasons; firstly, as an ever-lasting tribute to the region’s mine-workers and proud industrial heritage and in the expectation and hope that the stadium would be a guiding light in the future. The name is very much a symbolic link to the thousands of miners and Sunderland supporters that emerged from the darkness and into the light every day when they returned to the surface after working in the mine. This is also why a Davy Lamp, which saved the lives of thousands of miners and was invented in Sunderland, is located on the approach to the stadium and the words ‘Into the Light’ also appear on the Murray Gates in front of the main reception.”

 

Incidentally Sir Bob asked for the gates to be named after himself as part of the deal when he sold the club to Niall Quinn. He continued: “The name was also chosen in the anticipation that the stadium would be a symbol of hope for the club. It reflects the desire of the club and its supporters to be in the limelight and to achieve sporting success. In an age when so many stadium names are not distinctive or where naming rights have been sold solely for commercial reasons, the name Stadium of Light remains unique and inspirational and sets Sunderland apart. I chose not to sell the naming rights during my Chairmanship as I felt the stadium name should belong to the club and its fans rather than a corporate entity.”

 

In other news, Jack Ross has been chatting about his communication methods and strategies with the players. “We’re targeting promotion. We speak about it every week. That can be formally, within our meetings, or informally, with messages passed on within the group or in the changing room before a game, when people are motivating each other. I’ve never shied away from targets as a manager. I’ve always put them out there. Does it invite more pressure? Possibly, but there’s pressure on us to perform and win every week. Rather than avoid the pressure, it’s about being resilient enough to deal with it. I only developed that mental resilience late on in my own playing career. And since moving into coaching and management, it’s something I’ve tried to become more knowledgeable about. When I was younger, I would have said that mental strength is inherent. Something you either have or you don’t. But it’s abundantly clear that you can absolutely strengthen your mindset if you listen to the right people and train your mind in the right way. I have a tendency to overthink things. It can be an advantage, because you feel as if you’re thorough in your work and that the decisions you make are well thought out. You still might get them wrong, but at least there’s a thought process behind them. The negative side of it is: how do you switch off? But I’ve become a lot better, not necessarily at switching off, but at understanding my own mind. I worked with a gentleman called Gavin White at St Mirren, who’s a brilliant sounding board for me. He works mostly in the corporate world with businesses and executives, but the same things can apply to football. Sometimes we just have a general chat, sometimes it’s about challenges I’m facing and how I can understand and deal with them better. I’m reading a book called The Chimp Paradox at the moment, and that’s probably as good a book as I’ve read in that respect – clarifying what goes on within your own head and how you maintain that clarity of thought.”

 

Ross continued his football philosophy: “The overthinking will never go away. It’s part of what makes me, me. It’s also part of what makes me work as hard as I do at the job. The trick is to keep that balance, so it doesn’t become a negative. I’m proud of how far that hard work has taken us in a short period. But now we have to get better. This job is a bit like turning an oil tanker: a big, strong, powerful thing that’s moving in one direction. We’ve got to get it to stop, turn it around and get the momentum going the opposite way. That’s not easy. It takes a lot of work to do it. But I think we’ve turned it. Now it’s about getting it moving in the right direction.”

 

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At the back end of the 1980s, football fanzines began to sweep the country and in 1989 we were presented with a new vehicle on which to enjoy some of this ride – A Love Supreme. ALS was a place we could all go to celebrate and commiserate being a Sunderland fan. Win, lose or draw, the pages of the fanzine became solace for many of us as we stumbled our way through our day to day lives, punctuated by the ups and downs of more match days than any of us care to remember.

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