Sorry, But This Just Isn’t Working Out

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Three times Sunderland have played Gillingham this season. Three games, no wins, two draws (one followed by an extra-time loss) and one defeat. One goal scored. Season in a microcosm? Not far off. 11th in League One with no away wins in the league since September, and no wins at all in eight games. So, what’s going on? James Reay takes a look

Players

Some are massively underperforming compared to last year, some are no longer good enough and some potentially never were. Not one can take any professional pride from any performance since we beat Tranmere 5-0 well over a month ago; ability can never be a given, but application simply has to be.

I don’t know who the majority of this squad think they’re kidding if they believe they deserve promotion playing like this. Some of our ‘big names’ act like they’d walk into any side in this league, but they’ve been repeatedly outperformed by players earning a fraction of what they do. Fellow professionals who seem a whole lot more professional, but are worth a fraction of their market value. They should be embarrassed.

Ownership

More questions than answers. As usual. All coming out in the wash? Chickens coming home to roost? Other, similar phrases which sum up recent events? Can’t say for certain but things are certainly different these days.

Manager(s)

Seems we’re back to that good old fashioned Sunderland staple, the multiple-manager season. Oh how I’ve missed those. So far we’ve had one who performed admirably at times, especially last season (less so more recently), but had run his course (I suspect he had a lot more on his plate than we knew at the time though).

His replacement is so hopelessly out of his depth (eight defeats from 12 in charge…and counting) that even opposition fans have started to feel sorry for us.

Gillingham fanzine ‘Gills In The Blood’ tweeted on Sunday morning:

The comments that sparked the above tweet were bemoaning Sunderland’s ‘bad luck’ along with some poor officiating resulting in us coming away from the game empty handed. A game in which a goal was (seemingly correctly, albeit a little harshly) ruled out, but in which Gillingham themselves had hit the woodwork twice, had a goal of their own ruled out when it appeared to have crossed the line, and generally seemed to do enough to take all three points.

The manager seemingly being content enough with his side’s performance to blame officials for a defeat in the manner of this one is frankly insulting. Insulting to the fantastic Sunderland travelling support, insulting to the rest of us following the match around the world, and insulting to the opposition who were, quite simply, better.

Have some accountability yourself. Hold the players to account. Issues behind the scenes? Tell us. But don’t insult our intelligence.

Sorry, Parky, but I don’t think this is working out.

The silence from upstairs is deafening. The fact the club is in this position is fast becoming a severe dereliction of duty. Action needs to be taken. A proud, historic club from a proud, historic city that have both experienced more than their fair share of hardship.

We won’t take much more of this and we will not be taken advantage of again. We mightn’t have the owners, manager or players we deserve; but we’re still Sunderland AFC and we’re not going anywhere.

Now is not the time for heads of those in positions of power to be buried in the sand. These are problems which will not go away on their own. Quite simply, change is needed. Now.

James Reay