You’ve seen Dick’s rather lame Advochaat. Here’s a reply from Bill Taylor. It’s tough love without the love and there’ll be readers who agree and those who don’t …
Dear Mr Advocaat,
We’ve never met and probably never will so I’m not going to call you Dick, as if we were friends. But I sat close enough at the Toronto-Sunderland match to shoot some pictures of you. You didn’t look happy, even though the Black Cats won. I think you were already seeing the writing on the wall.
In reply to your post-Norwich words – or whoever pens them in your name – on this blog, one comment said simply: “Advocraap.”
So it begins.
You already know the calibre of Sunderland’s fans – hugely enthusiastic, unswervingly loyal, massively supportive of their team through thick and thin. There are clubs at the top end of the Premiership that would kill to have such a hard-core following.
You obviously felt their love and longing for a sustained relationship at the end of last season because, in spite of your wife’s wishes, you came back for more. The club shovelled a chunk of money your way but we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume your decision came from the heart and not the wallet.
Doubts… you must be having a few of those yourself now. Enough to be scouring your contract for a get-out clause?
Because you’re learning something else about Mackems: They’ll back you to the hilt as long as you’re putting your heart and soul into the team, win or lose. But as soon as they start to feel that they and the players aren’t getting 100 per cent from you, they won’t hide their anger, frustration and disgust.
It happened with Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill, Paolo di Canio and Gus Poyet. And now I can see it happening to you.
For the record, I’ve never thought you were the right man for the job. Yes, you kept us in the Premier last season and all credit to you. But that’s a bit of an artificial situation. There could have been half a dozen people who brought enough new-manager bounce to the SoL to pull it off.
I was sorry when you did an about-face halfway home to the Netherlands. I was not one of the fans who contributed to those flowers for your wife.
I’d much rather have seen us make a completely fresh managerial start with someone younger, more energetic, more committed. Someone out to make a name for himself.
That’s not you, not any more. I think you’ve run out of steam.
You’ve kept coming up with reasons for the team’s lacklustre (to put it mildly) performances. Tired, under-trained (or was it over-trained), not used to the heat.
The excuses seem to have petered out. Now it’s just “really disappointing” and you and the lads are going to “sit down together and speak to find out what the problem is”.
Are you really that clueless?
I know this isn’t the best team in the world, not the most highly skilled. There’s some deadwood. There’s not enough of a work ethic among some of the players.
That shouldn’t be a surprise to you.
And, be that as it may, they were good enough last season, under your direction, to fight clear of the relegation zone.
Yes, we need some new blood. Yes, Ellis Short needs to spend some money. But for the moment let’s work with what we’ve got. With a few exceptions, it’s the same squad with the same talent, the same abilities and the same potential as last season.
So what’s changed?
Is it you? Have the ideas, inspiration and energy simply dried up?
Why haven’t you been able to maintain the side at least at the level it had reached? You had plenty of time to get them back into shape after their summer off. Other clubs did it. Why not ours?
We’ve played two games so far against teams we should have been reasonably confident about beating. We didn’t just lose to them, we were hammered.
And you? You’re disappointed.
What are you going to be when we meet the likes of Manchester (either of them), Arsenal and Chelsea? Or even Swansea this weekend?
With all due respect, Mr Advocaat, I think that as well as sitting down to talk things over with the players, you should be taking a long, hard look in the mirror. And being honest with yourself about what you see there. I don’t think you’ve been or are being honest with the best fans in the country.