Written by Matthew Flannery
Here we are again, at the end of another season where Sunderland have scraped survival by the skin of there teeth after spending 237 days in the relegation zone, which is even more than Aston Villa. Through a mixture of fortune and brilliance, banking on other teams to fall away and an attitude of ‘it’ll be alright in the end’, the Black Cats have found themselves in exactly the same place as they’ve been in the past four years and with the hope it’ll be better next season. The same mistakes must not be made again. Fortunately, Sunderland are now in a much better position than we have been in the past, acquiring the services a manager which we know is not merely a quick fix this time.
Sunderland’s tenth Premier League season in a row will start in August and we look to make only our second top ten finish in that stint, coming under Steve Bruce in the 2010/11 season and secured on the last day where we could have also finished 14th if not for a freak set of results. Since then, we’ve always been on the edge of our seats. Even in Martin O’Neill’s reasonably successful first season we weren’t mathematically safe until the thirty-third game of the season.
However, the past four seasons have been nothing short of a sickening, nerve-racking, joke. We are not like our neighbours. We do not believe we have an entitlement to success nor do we think we should be given special status by the FA and every football fan in the land. But the past few season of stupefying performances and gutting hammering’s from teams like Southampton, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, have made Sunderland fans feel like we cannot go through this for a fifth season in succession. Club legend Niall Quinn, after our survival clinching win over Everton, stated that Sunderland fans are used to nervous situations. Indeed we are, but can we please have a break? We’ve had the dullness of O’Neill, the madness of Di Canio, the stubbornness of Poyet, and the laissez-fair approach of Advocaat over the past few seasons which has left Sunderland fans with the feeling that we may never be able to pull ourselves out of this seemingly never ending cycle and compelled some to long for it all to be over. But now we have Big Sam Allardyce, a man with a record we can trust, a solid player recruitment system, and a connection with the fans that we haven’t felt since the Roy Keane or even the Peter Reid days. I can only hope, as a long suffering Sunderland fan at the tender age of 20, that we can get rid of the long list of human waste that is still on our books and bring in some genuine professional footballers with real talent and real passion. If Sam does this well, and I believe that he will, it is possible that Sunderland AFC may be seen around the dizzy heights of 13th place in next season’s Premier League and maybe even safe by March. Wouldn’t that be wonderful…
Sunderland fans, do you share this same belief? What’s it like to continuously be involved in a relegation battle? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Mick C