Six days removed from Sunderland’s second relegation in two seasons. The signs that Sunderland, a club with absolutely no plan or direction have becoming blatantly clear. From players, to owners, to mistakes made years previous, all these factors have now come together to produce a club in turmoil. But why is this?
Starting off with what I believe to be one of the most staggering things in football I have ever seen, the Jack Rodwell situation. A player with three international caps to his name, signing on a five year deal back in 2014 seemed like sound business at the time, but with Rodwell’s time at Sunderland has definitely been a time to forget. During his time in the Premier League, everything was okay and he wasn’t particularly worse than any other player. However after the first relegation it was revealed that Rodwell had no wage reduction in his contract, meaning he would still be getting paid the lucrative sum of £70,000 a week in England’s second tier. If that wasn’t bad enough, Rodwell only played just over 400 minutes of football in all competitions that season. Despite efforts to terminate his contract Rodwell was having none of it, so the club managed to get him a trial with Vitesse Arnhem. An unsuccessful trial followed and Rodwell remained at Sunderland, crippling the club financially. Rodwell still believes he is capable to receiving another England call up and insists he is fully fit, so the intentions of playing football are clearly there but the chances of that happening in League One, I would say, are unlikely. Finally, just to put this into perspective, the average League One player earns a wage of around £2,000 a week and the highest paid player reportedly receives £16,000 a week. Rodwell will ‘earn’ £44,000 a week and I use the word ‘earn’ very loosely. Stealing a living.
Secondly, Darron Gibson. A man no longer with the club, his off field personal problems have hardly done the club much good. Starting in pre season, when on a drunken rant at the end of July he claimed that none of the Sunderland players actually care, even mentioning certain team-mates Kone, Lens and Khazri. In early 2018 Gibson was suspended for drink driving and later released from his contract. A disaster season for Gibson which mirrors the absolute car crash of a season on the pitch for the first team.
Other unhonourable mentions for Sunderland’s failures this season include: Lamine Kone for trying manufacture a move away at the start of the season. Jeremain Lens, Whabi Kazhri, Didier n’Dong, Fabio Borini and Papy Djilobodji for not showing that they want to play for Sunderland and jumping ship with some even moving on to pastures new completely. Finally; John O’Shea, Jake Clarke-Slater, Lee Camp, Jason Steele and Lee Cattermole for just simply not being good enough but at least they actually show up and play unlike others.
Another issue is the situation with ownership and Ellis Short, who insists Sunderland won’t go into administration but is desperately struggling to sell the club. However, there has been hope in recent weeks as there is talk of a takeover from ex-Hull City owner Adam Pearson so whether that goes through or not is yet to be seen.
Overall, I think it is the players that have desperately let Sunderland AFC down this season. If Chris Coleman is given the money and opportunity I believe he can be the man to guide Sunderland back to the promised land of the Premier League but after the 2-1 home loss to Burton Albion, that seems almost unthinkable. The future is bleak for Sunderland and it’s loyal supporters.