So there we go. We’re League One again. We’re going to Tranmere again, the site of the most unusual sacking when Malcolm Crosby was sacked after a pools panel verdict gave a home win after the game was postponed. Wembley 98 made the pre match headlines but in many ways this was harder. Not to put too fine a point on it, the result at Wembley basically said we deserve to be in this division. Sunderland. The club who have broken attendance records, who’s fans have taken out payday loans to follow the club home and away deserve nothing better than League One.
So, who do you blame? The players? Well for the most part those players should have been able to deliver. McGeady is arguably the most skilful player in the division. Cattermole is probably the best midfield general in the league. McLaughlin is a huge improvement on our previous butterfingered shitshows. And deliver they have. Cattermole has scored a record number of goals for him. McGeady the same. If it wasn’t for McLaughlin we wouldn’t have been at Wembley. So, who’s next?
The gaffer? Jack Ross started the season chucking coaches and physios on to the training pitch just to make sure we had an 11v11 game to get players ready. He has worked with players new to the area, new to the division and new to our predicament and has actually developed a team around that.
The fans? We have been called the poison at Sunderland. The very thing that creates an uncomfortable atmosphere for players which makes them unable to perform. We leave early. If we even turn up that is. And yet this season fans have replaced the seats. I have turned up early to set up the flag display alongside some really good people. The fans have travelled all over to support this team. We broke records for attendance both at home and away. We even sold more tickets for our two games at Wembley than Man City.
The board? Well, do you feel more connected to the club now? Probably. Charlie’s PR machine has made sure of that. Some great work from the staff on social media has cemented that. Is it all genuine? Who knows? And frankly who cares. We all feel passionately about this club and no amount of PR will sum up what Sunderland fans have done twice this season in Trafalgar Square. The bigger question about the board now is whether you believe them. But that’s for another blog.
We lost that final because whilst we have quality beyond the reach of other League One teams in certain area we have been let down by a lack of quality in others. Not only that but we have also suffered from the fact that the quality players we have are not and, in some cases, have never experienced what League One is about. Our height disadvantage presented problems. Our expectation of refereeing standards presented others.
We go into another season at this level and it is gutting. No bones about that. We need to learn lessons. A winger with a foot like a magician’s wand is no good if you have a defence with all the sense of a magician’s glamorous assistant. We will be back as fans, possibly in smaller numbers given the disappointment that the hope promised by a PR guru and a businessman hasn’t transpired, but if the team finally gives something to match the standard of support then perhaps we can bury the hurt we feel tonight.