Niall Quinn’s crisis inquest (1): case for the prosecution

So Niall Quinn will hold an inquest at the end of the season to examine what has gone so badly wrong. We know inquests don’t actually have prosecutions and defence, but he could do worse than pore over the comments that appeared here yesterday as a Salut! Sunderland posting on the crisis topped the Sunderland pages at … probably the most eloquently argued contribution, from Moongod, contained the sort of supportive and sympathetic messages Quinn and certainly Steve Bruce may want to hear, and has now been reproduced whole – click here -as the second part of this mini-series. But first, let us hear from Jeremy Robson, who is feeling far from sympathetic and questions a number of the decisions Bruce has taken …

Whenever Sunderland get involved in a relegation scrap, or after a string of bad results, there are invariably questions raised about the capability of the manager to get us out of the poor run and improve our fortunes on the field.

At Sunderland we have become accustomed to seeing managers sacked for getting us relegated or when we are in such dire straits that the drop is inevitable. For the former look at the sacking of Mick McCarthy, Lenny Ashurst, Dennis Smith etc and for the latter Peter Reid, Lawrie McMenemy and Mick Buxton (although for the last two we were fighting against the drop to the third tier).

The only manager that has been sacked prematurely at Sunderland was Allan Durban, for reasons that remain a mystery almost 30 years later.

There is good reason for Sunderland’s long-suffering fans to be disgruntled at the moment.

A plummeting league position and a haul of one point from a possible 24 is poor by anyone’s standards.

Calls for his position to be questioned (though not necessarily sacked) are invariably met by calls to “get behind the manager” and “get behind the team” as if the doubters should remain silent regardless of how badly the team performs, and despite the fact that the man in the dugout stands there looking stunned and unresponsive as his team squander not one, but two leads at home to an average side.

If there is no justification now for Bruce’s tenure to be questioned then there never will be. Quinn might as well give him a job for life as he did to Bruce’s predecessor, Ricky Sbragia.

The question that I would like to pose to all those posters telling us to “get behind the team” and “get behind the manager” is this. What does that mean exactly? Do they know themselves what they are asking?

Forty thousand people turned up to see a side that had managed a goalless draw in the last seven games at the weekend. If this is not providing support beyond all reason then I don’t know what is. For decade after decade we have suffered more relegation battles than I can even be bothered to count any more, but the fans turn up, regardless. Do these advocates of blind and unquestioning faith really think that:

• a healthy debate about the welfare and future of the club equates to giving up the ghost? (although from what we’ve seen latterly, that’s precisely what the players have done)

• that discussions on forums such as Salut actually makes any difference to the outcome on a Saturday afternoon?

Given the unprecedented resources put at Bruce’s disposal to build his team, his position is untenable. His buys other than the now departed and treacherous Bent, have been very poor at best. He has squandered money on 3rd rate journeymen, unsuited to the rigours of the PL, in Riveros, Angeleri and Da Silva and yet persists with the ridiculous Egyptian Elmohamady. He has spent a fortune and yet we half the side that appears each week belonging to other clubs.

He has had the unswerving support of his chairman and the owner as well as the fans.

For those who would like Bruce’s critics silenced: we have all stood shoulder to shoulder behind the team, the manager and the club, not just this season, or the season before, but for decades and in some cases lifetimes. Frankly, it has gone on long enough.

We may not have the right to expect major successes even if the spending power bestowed on Bruce naturally raised expectations.

We do, however have the right to expect something better than the dismal performances that we’ve seen this year and another relegation scrap. We are due more than that and we demand it. I can guarantee that a man like Ellis Short will too.

6 thoughts on “Niall Quinn’s crisis inquest (1): case for the prosecution”

  1. A good article. I agree Bruce’s position is untenable.
    I’m fearful that way we are currently playing under his abject guidance we’ll not see another point let alone another win. Why wait until the end of the season to dismiss him, get rid now and spark some life into the Club.
    I would remind Mr Quinn that he promised us a World Class manager. I for one am still waiting!

  2. I agree with Dan . Yes I’m one of those who stands by the adage – get behind the team and the manager . Yes you can quote 42,000 turning up – but I suggest you get to an away game – and sit with 3,000 or so passionate (sometimes silly and drunk) fans – and see what support for your team is really about

  3. Players poor at best (his buys)? I agree that Bruce needs to give some explanations as to why we have suffered another mid-season slump, but he has bought some very good players, and his South American flops have been free transfers, with the exception of 1 million for Angeleri.

    Gyan, Sess, Bramble, Turner, Mignolet, Bent are all leagues above the, mainly, rubbish players Keane brought in.

  4. Dave,

    A very good post. I would however add Gyan, Bramble, Turner and Mingolet to the list of those with plenty of heart. For me the problem for any mid table manager comes when he brings in a lot of new players from outside of the Premiership. They need time to settle in and as we all know some very good overseas players have failed to settle it in theis league. Veron and Robinho spring to mind. I am still of the opinion that injuries to too many key players have been one of the major factors to our recent demise, the other one being that the back up players for whatever reason have not been up to the job. The timing of Bent’s departure was another as it did not leave Bruce with any time to get a suitable replacement. If we get out of this mess, and I am sure we will, the preseason is the time for the club to identify what went wrong and then put it right. It may mean a new manager , who knows? More likely I think it will mean a few comings and goings on the playing staff, and not just the periphoral players either.

  5. Dave

    That’s a great post. I agree that there are a lot of them that don’t have the heart. Bent’s goals made this side look a lot better than it actually is though, and Bent’s departure was the main difference.

    Easy to blame the newcomers like Sessegnon and Muntari, but they didn’t start on Sat and by the time SS came on the game was virtually over. If these players don’t have the heart, you are dead right; they don’t deserve the shirt. Finding out about the character of a player as well as his ability etc is part of the role of the modern manager. Bruce is failing in that regard. SS may well look like a world beater in France and Muntari a European Champion. From what we’ve seen SS is ineffectual in a game that’s faster and more physical than in France. Muntari can’t be bothered. Add the failures due to adaptation problems in Angeleri, Da Silva and Riveros and there’s not a lot of credit in the bank for him on transfers. His performance is diabolical in fact.

    His tenure for me shouldn’t be decided on the basis of survival or relegation, more on what we should realistically expect from the support he’s had from within, financial, personal, moral etc.

    This season should not ever have been one of survival, yet that is what it’s become. There’s a burden of responsibility and expectation that comes with it and he has failed dismally in that regard. He doesn’t seem to have a clue what he’s doing.

  6. I don’t think anyone can disagree with the argument you put forward, however these players are the same ones who performed well unil January, and the only two signifcant things that have happened are the loss of Bent and the introduction of Muntari and Sessagnon. Even with the loss of Bent we still have the rest of the players so it seems to me that the loss of one player can not have caused such a downturn in performance(remember the old saying one player doesn’t make a team). It has to be something else, but what ever it is, it’s the players who are responsible, they decide if they are going to perform or not, and frankly I believe too many of them just don’t have the heart, and if that is a fair assumption then they should not be wearing the shirt. I think SB knows this now and will have to make changes in the summer, and yes you could argue that he has chosen badly, but it’s easy to determine if a player has ability and skill, but you can’t always see if he has the courage and heart when the going gets tough. Personally I think a lot of players are spoilt to the point they have no pride in the badge they wear, however there are a few in our team that have the metal such as PB, JH, LC, KR so all we can hope is that the others decide to bust a gut to get us through this, then it will be down to SB to sort out this mess and ensure there is no more repeats. My heart goes out to my fellow Sunderland fans having to endure yet another disappointment when things looked so bright. Hopefully we will be able to breathe that regular sigh of relief before the last day of the season!!

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