By Andrew Aziz
The north-east of England is a hot bed of football and is like a religion for many fans up there, unfortunately for Sunderland fans their faith has been tested like never before over the last year. In May 2016, Allardyce had managed to keep Sunderland in the Premier League at the expense of their Northeast rivals and there was a positive feeling about the future for a long time emanating from the club. However, when Big Sam left the Mackems in the summer of 2016 for his brief and ill-fated time with England it left the North-East outfit in limbo and began the fall down the football league. The David Moyes era failed massively with him lacking enthusiasm and energy therefore continuing the ill-feeling on Wearside and I was not surprised that the dour Scotsman was unable to motivate his underachieving players. My own feeling is that Moyes is very lucky to still be linked with prestigious jobs like Rangers and Scotland when you consider he has now failed at his last three jobs. Simon Grayson has come and left, unable to stop the decay despite his tried and tested Championship credentials. Fans stated he was out of his depth and the club was too big for him to manage, however, I feel most managers would have struggled to turn the tide. The club now is manager-less, with an owner who has lost interest and trying to sell and now find themselves in a relegation battle to avoid the third tier of English football. The fans are dissenting and staying away with empty seats everywhere. It is hard to blame them when the team have not won a match at the Stadium of Light in the calendar year.
The group of players have been blamed and when I look at the Sunderland starting eleven against Bolton on Tuesday night I see a lot of players who have performed well at a much higher level. It does beg the question whether they have the hunger to return Sunderland to where it should be for a club of that size.
Irishman O’Shea, who is now in his twilight years and lacking pace, would admit that his best days are behind him. The likes of Gibson and Rodwell have been at the Manchester clubs, and may now feel their chance at the top level has surpassed. Gibson, who was filmed criticised other teammates in a drunken video earlier in the year, has been either injured or out-of-form and is a target for many Sunderland fans. Rodwell, who was seen as the best English holding midfielder at one point and had 3 caps, injuries have taken its toll and is a shadow of his his younger self. Aiden McGeady, a match winner in many eyes, who used to be the crowd’s darling at the always packed and enthused Parkhead may find playing in a negative half-full stadium in the Championship tough to muster. N’dong who was once described as the new Michael Essien and Sunderland stumped up an eye-watering 13.6m pounds for, must be contemplating on what a terrible decision he made to join the sinking ship of the Mackems. The likes of Lamine Kone who can’t even get in the team at the moment it was not so long ago that Everton had bids of 15m plus in the summer of 2016 rejected now the club may be willing to take 1.5m to get rid of his wages. When you add in the fact that the club lost their best three players from last year in goalkeeping starlet Pickford, Van Aaanholt and top scorer Defoe you can see why Grayson may have found it difficult to reverse the losing culture. Arguably, the only positive has been the goals of Lewis Grabban with 8 so far and averages a goal every 110 minutes.
Phil Brown and Ally Mccoist have been linked with the job with both of them having Sunderland links, however, for me the biggest current issue is that owner Ellis Short is keen to get rid of the club now as he feels it is a heavy weight around his shoulders. When you consider the likes of good Premier League managers like O’Neill and Bruce have failed to succeed at the Stadium of Light under the Short regime it does make you consider whether the problem is with the club hierarchy rather than the manager. It is possible that until the club has sorted out its ownership problems it may mean Sunderland could be facing another relegation come the spring.
Where do Sunderland go from here? What are the main reasons they can’t turn their fortunes around? Let us know in the comments below!
Twitter – @andrewaziz2688