Season reviews: bring on the cricket but build on Advocaat’s example

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Michael Robinson, who quietly but regularly comments on items at Salut Sunderland!, broke cover when winning one the last pair of Guess the Score prize mugs, describing SAFC’s unlikely links with his home town of Corbridge.

The series will conclude with the reviews of our deputy editor, Malcolm Dawson, and star chronicler, Pete Sixsmith. No further entries are required. Here are Michael’s end-of-season thoughts..

These days I am for a variety of reasons an armchair supporter and rely on the press, television and the many excellent online fanzines to gauge how things are going with SAFC. I must say that there are some excellent SAFC web sites but also, sadly, one or two that need to consider their policies on spelling, grammar and profanity.

As last season ended everything at SAFC seemed reasonably positive, and I suppose the Great Escape and the Wembley appearance lulled me, once again, into a sense of false security.

Had we finally found a manager who could make it work at Sunderland? Initially I thought we had, but soon doubt set in.

The alarm bells started ringing for me long before a ball had been kicked. Why had Colback, Gardner and Bardsley jumped ship, why couldn’t Ki, Borini and Alonso be persuaded to make their loans permanent after such an exciting adventure played out in front of such passionate crowds? Well according to what was said in the press, particularly with reference to the Colback’s move, it wasn’t money.

I suspected then that those players simply didn’t buy into Poyet’s long-term strategy, which turned out to involve dull, unexciting, negative, possession football which they knew would, in all probability, lead to another wearisome relegation struggle.

And of course as we all now know they were right and Poyet’s approach very nearly cost the club its Premeir status. Would he have used these tactics if he had managed to keep the six players mentioned earlier? We will never know but had it not been for Lee Congerton’s inspired appointment of Dick Advocaat we would have been lost to the top flight for a good few years. The loss of revenue which comes with relegation is frightening when you read how it is going to hit Hull, QPR and Burnley.

I hope now that the club will build on the positive legacy Advocaat leaves behind, assuming of course he decides not to stay on. I do hope he remains at the helm for at least one more season to build a successful Sunderland style that future players and managers will buy into. I also hope that he and Congerton have not been conned by those players who have let the club down so badly over the last few seasons only to respond well to the new manager bounce syndrome in the last few matches. I think that Dick is not that easily tricked but have a feeling we appointed him five years too late

Anyway for the next couple of months I can stop worrying how to get my Sunderland fix.

No more hiding from the other half with my Ipad to check what the team is, what the result is, who played well and who didn’t. Thankfully no more need to listen to the drivel spouted on the Sky Sports result service or by the Match of the Day pundits when they see beyond the Manchesters, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal and deign to mention us at all.

However I will be skulking around for my summer fix of cricket. Club cricket is with my club Corbridge in the Northumberland Cricket League – watching and criticising but not playing these days, I hasten to add – and, of course, getting worked up about the little matter of the Ashes against Australia.

But no doubt I will eventually become addicted again to the online gossip relating to who SAFC will and will not sign. There just seems to be no getting away from football, even as an armchair supporter.

Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson
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