I like many Sunderland fans don’t have many nice words to say about Ellis Short. His decisions led to Sunderland playing in the third tier for only the second time in our history. He chose to ignore Bain, Grayson’s and Coleman’s public pleas that we needed strengthening and left them scratting round in places like Boro’s reserves for loan signings.
Truth be told we wouldn’t have needed that much to stay up last season, in fact a keeper who could catch a ball could well of kept us in the league. We were awful last season, conceded so easy. Didn’t score enough, threw away points from winning positions too many times to remember.
However, we ended up where we are because we deserve to be here. Not the fans but the players and the previous regime deserve that blemish on their careers for the rest of their life. A complete monumental fucking disaster. Imagine living in America and watching the recent Netflix documentary. You’d think it was fake, a set up. A spoof “The Office” style fly on the wall type show. A comedy about how not to run a football club. But unfortunately for us it was real. Far too real.
One thing that struck me is that Ellis Short’s decision to sack Chris Coleman was one of the best choices he made as chairman. CC is a good man, no doubt about it. Passionate, understand the club and has pedigree as a manager, but overseeing this relegation did irreparable damage. I honestly believe we would nowhere near to where we are now had we kept him as manager. Snippets of McGeady’s thoughts on his man management, his demeanour when things got tough. He was an ex club and country captain, yet he looked like he couldn’t knock the skin off a rice pudding.
He had to go, I was sad and shocked when I found out he’d been sacked. I thought it was wrong to pin it on him. But with the beauty of hindsight it’s what was needed. A complete overhaul, sometimes you have to just peel it all back, take it back to brick and start again. New manager, looking confident, big smile, Jack Ross is the shot in the arm the club needed, our stadium looks brand new. Our players look a foot taller. Our club is something we can be proud of again, I don’t even want to think about the Premier League, let’s build a squad slowly make a great team. Like a Bournemouth or a Burnley. 10 years ago, if you had said we should aspire to be like the aforementioned teams you’d of thought we were stepping back. But if you watch them play it’s a style that they all know, the full team is in tune with the manager’s philosophy. Signings are made to compliment the team, thought out and scouted for months and sometimes years.
With our old regime I sort of get the feeling we just rang clubs up and said: “Got any players on big wages who your wanting rid of?” And we did it, I got excited when we signed Rodwell. I genuinely believed he’d be a success. I wanted Borini back, convinced myself that Sunderland had got under his skin. I wanted Kone to stay as I thought we had one of the best defenders in the league at one point. But as defeat after defeat took its toll on players and fans alike everyone was sick, the rats lined up to jump the sinking ship. But what was left? A forlorn looking stadium, a battle field bearing the scars of teams shafting us every week. Hardened fans desperate for any sort of positivity to be injected into the place. The SOL was completely unrecognisable from the one I remember, Defoe’s volley, Richardson’s screamer, Kone’s brace vs Everton. Phillips volley vs Chelsea. We are fucking Sunderland, and here we are plummeting to the 3rd tier of football without a prayer. We were close to extinction, really close. Ellis Short could have bust us. He’d still be a billionaire, but he didn’t, he cleared the debt. Made sure we were in safe hands with Donald and Methven. Gave us the platform to start from scratch. We needed this, we needed the new manager. We needed the new seats. We needed our club back.
Our club has given me some great days, great memories and I will forever follow the lads. I stood watching Martin Longstaff sing his amazing ‘Shipyards’ at half time, I took in the smile from young kids possibly at their first game. Camera flickering around the stadium, I inhaled my dad’s smile as he watched me stand proud adoring the team, he wanted me to love. The truth is we are an amazing club with great fans and while I don’t want to bang the Ellis Short drum too much. I do believe he gave us the chance to go again.