What a bloody shambles.
Sunderland have parted company with yet another manager and I use the phrase “parted company” in the same way that I expect the Black Cats will be “Parting Company” with the Championship come May.
This week Simon Grayson became the clubs 8th manager in just 4 and a half years as they consistently fail to reach the high levels expected by their fans. Names like Paulo DiCanio, Sam Allardyce, David Moyes and Dick Advocaat have been and gone all failing to make the desired impact whilst also failing to stay long enough in the Stadium of Light dugout to reach a century of games. The last manager to reach that lofty feat as the Sunderland boss was Mick McCarthy and when Big Mick is being held up as an example to aspire to you KNOW you are in trouble.
It is only right that the fans should expect so much. After all they give so much. Even this season, against a backdrop of turmoil and failure, the club regularly nudge home attendances of 30k… and that’s without winning a game in 2017. You have to admire a fan base that turns out for their team, rain and shine, despite having only witnessed their team lead for a grand total of 3mins this year don’t you?.. and that’s with MUCH more rain than shine both metaphorically and in reality.
They are either incredibly loyal, passionate, true football fans or incredibly stupid. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and go with the former.
It was the clubs 3-3 draw with Bolton, equalling a record of 19 home games without a win, that saw the end of Grayson’s tenure in charge. Prompting much debate on social media as to who would replace him (along with a fair few “Stadium of Shite” jokes). As Grayson himself pointed out to the Sunderland Echo before his sacking, the candidate list is a short one:
“Do I think I am the right man for the job? Of course, I do. I can’t think of too many other people who are in football at this moment in time who would be in a better position or could do a better job than I am doing at this moment in time.”
You have to agree to him. There aren’t many people who are in a better position than him right now. Particularly when you consider his current position is “Definitely NOT Sunderland’s next manager”. Truly enviable.
The manner of his departure may have seemed particularly brutal with the board making a call just 17mins after the final whistle. It was a long time coming through – the writing was on the wall. Just as with Ronald Koeman, Craig Shakespear and Ronald DeBoer before him: Grayson paid the price for the underperformance of his playing staff.
It is completely unrealistic to expect that a club should sack underperforming players yet at the same time surely there should be some impact on players who fail to do their jobs? A postman who doesn’t deliver letters wouldn’t last long, a bartender who doesn’t serve drinks will soon find himself signing on and a chef who cooked inedible food… well, we probably already works in my local Fish and Chip shop. Yet a striker who doesn’t score or a defender who concedes more goals than I’ve had cases of gastroenteritis from the aforementioned chippy gets off scot-free. Happily picking up his giant weekly paycheque.
A friend of mine suggested introducing the opposite of a “Man of the Match” award where instead of getting a £10k bonus and a bottle of bubbly, underperforming players are forced to make a large charity donation and their wages halved for the season. I pointed out that Sunderland already adopts a similar punishment system: Play badly and you are forced to turn out for the club for the following game.
The biggest punishment of all, however, is for the fans. Forced to watch from the stands as again their players conceded goals with the same regularity as Jose Mourinho moans about refereeing decisions, and parting with thirty quid for the privilege. Almost a whole year with nothing to cheer is both impressive and heartbreaking at the same time.
On Saturday the team face Middlesbrough where they have the chance to go 20 home games without a single win. A feat never before achieved by a club in the football league.
With no wins and certainly no cups in the last 12months, maybe they should get some kind of trophy for that? That’ll give the Black Cats fans something to look forward to!
You can hear more from Jim chatting about the latest football news in the bi-weekly, satirical football podcast “On The Left Side”. Listen to the latest episode below and follow the action on Twitter @OnTheLeftSide.