Our latest Durham Times column can be found below. This week’s coming from new full time addition, Gary Foster. This article was first published in the newspaper.
ANYONE who played football in the school yard or the back street remembers that kid who was the last pick.
You know the one, the kid where you’d sometimes offer to play with one less on the team rather than have to pick them.
Sunderland are fast becoming (if they aren’t already there) the football club equivalent of that poor unwanted youngster.
David Moyes has distanced himself from a move to Wearside, preferring to stay in sunny Spain, while Burnley boss Sean Dyche seems to see life at Turf Moor as a more attractive prospect than the Stadium of Light.
Previously, it came as a disappointment, but no great surprise when some players turned their noses up at a chance to sign for the club.
The bright lights of London, the infamous great north weather, even the lack of designer shops have all been accepted as reasons why Sunderland wasn’t seen as football Utopia to some stars.
After all, current players Younes Kaboul and Fabio Borini didn’t exactly jump at the chance to join the Black Cats at the first time of asking. But by and large the Wearsiders’ footballing stock has always been high enough to attract plenty of interest in the managerial hot seat.
That footballing stock is in danger of becoming a laughing stock.
Perennial relegation candidates, Sunderland AFC it seems has become a name synonymous with struggle or failure. Of course, there will no doubt be interested parties in the Sunderland job, but it appears those parties may not include those at the top of the wanted list.
So, where do we go from here?
Well, you’ll get the chance to rerun through all the old familiar platitudes. You know the ones – “brave new dawns” “have to get it right this time” and the one from the players where the “new boss has given us new impetus and we’re up for the fight”.
But more importantly than saying the right things is doing the right thing, and so far the Black Cats have come up short. Staying up may be the short-term aim, but the long-term goal has to be to try to create a legacy (a successful one that is).
To have any hope of doing that, Sunderland must identify all of their previous failings and deal with them before moving on.
Players who can’t make the grade, managers/head coaches that haven’t been able to turn things around, an owner and a board that have made too many mistakes.
All of the above have to take their share of the blame, and a solution to these problems, whether it be immediate or something that happens further down the line, has to be found. Previous solutions have brought success (ie staving off relegation) in the short term, but have failed to find a long-term fix to continuing to flirt with the drop on an annual basis.
To stop Sunderland becoming a football pariah, the club finally has to deliver something more than mediocrity or even worse.
Join us at Port of Call in Sunderland on Wednesday 14th October for a live show in order to raise funds for Pop Recs Ltd. We’ll be joined by former SAFC men David Preece and Michael Proctor, as well as ALS editor in chief Martyn McFadden. Tickets just £4. Raffle. All proceeds go to Pop Recs Ltd. 7pm start. You can buy tickets here. Feel free to share the event on Facebook, you’ll find it here. You can find Pop Recs Ltd Kickstarter page here.