Sunderland AFC Opinion – The Season is Dead, I am so Sorry

A month on from the general optimism around Wearside, Sunderland's season has fizzled out. Matthew Keeling discusses the fall-out

A few weeks back I wrote an article quoting Aristotle, and subsequently said how good everything was.

Since then, Sunderland have won one game, the 1-0 victory at Norwich, but have also lost 2-1 at Rotherham, 2-1 and Coventry and been completely walloped 5-1 at home by Alex Neil’s middling (and balding) Stoke City side.

I would like to say I am sorry. This, this, is why I am not positive very often. So those of you that ask me to be positive more often, don’t, eh?

We are in a bit of a quandary, aren’t we? I am struggling to remember a season where at this point in the campaign there is basically nothing to play for. It’s very unusual for the club of chaos that is Sunderland AFC; in recent seasons we’ve seen mad, usually unsuccessful attempts to get promoted, and prior to that, the most improbable of attempts to stay in the Premier League.

In fact, the season that comes closest in recent years is the 16/17 Premier League season where we basically had nothing to play for because, well, yeah. But that was different. This time we’ve had a successful return to the Championship; but it’s one that might, just might, have been so much more.

We’ve been unlucky; the injuries that have impacted the season have come at the most inconvenient and at times cruel moments; none more so than losing Ross Stewart in an FA Cup game at Fulham. Losing him earlier in the season, plus losing Ellis Simms once to injury and then secondly back to Everton was just as bad. Add to that the loss of the captain, Corry Evans, and you’re building quite the argument.

But we’ve also been quite naïve, and at times, a bit silly. Not one of you needs to hear me say again that we got January wrong – but we did. Losing Stewart was cruel. Not replacing him was stupid. You wonder, had Leeds known that was going to be the case, would we have been sent Joe Gelhardt to play the lone striker role? You must presume not.

I feel a bit for Gelhardt. For all he has struggled and at times should definitely have made more of opportunities, he clearly isn’t what we need, and certainly not in this role. I’m not sure what he, nor Sunderland for that matter, are getting out of the whole situation.

I’m not sure what we do though to be honest, we’ve seen that trying others up there doesn’t work either, so you’d think he’d continue to lead the line. The only option we haven’t tried is Lynden Gooch up there but, I’m not so sure about it.

After a for once quite welcome international break, Sunderland return to face league leaders Burnley on Friday night – live on our favourite outlet, Sky Sports. I don’t hold out much hope for this one, though I see a fairly entertaining, open game. How about a 5-3? Walshie, your £11 winnings are getting closer.

As we enter the final few games of the season, we might see some completely open games. With very little to play for, there’s no pressure on the team. Add to that the home games against Hull and Birmingham and there’s some very winnable games there, so it would be nice to round of the campaign with a flourish.

It should be a fairly stress free few weeks ahead of what is a massive summer. Contract renewals, incomings and outcomings. It’s a summer that Sunderland, and Kristjaan Speakman simply must get right. This season was a free pass, provided we didn’t get relegated. Next season won’t be though, and I think this summer will determine the plans, and possibly the expectations, for the next few years.

Let’s see what is brings. Oh, and don’t forget to sign a striker, Mr Speakman.