Big Sam’s flight home – is Short shooting Sunderland in the foot again?

View FromDeputy Editor Malcolm Dawson isn’t party to what goes on behind closed doors at the Stadium of Light. Like most supporters he relies on gossip and what is reported in the media. But that doesn’t stop him reflecting on events at the club and drawing his own conclusions.

It had to happen didn’t it? It had to happen because it always happens.

We end the season on a high (17th position) and look forward to bigger and better things to come. Optimism rules in May but it doesn’t take long before it is swept away by the goings on at a club that always seems to find a way to turn even the most positive fan into a bit of a worrywart. At least it does me.

A couple of months ago I renewed my season card certain that 2016/17 would see us shoot up the table, positive that we would be threatening the top half no less, assured that under Big Sam’s stewardship we would at last see some stability and were a club moving forward. The rapport that had developed between the manager, players and the fans, the fight that that squad showed in the last five months of the season convinced me that the emotional bond and the passion, on and off the pitch would ignite the club under a manager who knew what he wanted. There was only one way to go.

It doesn’t take long for that mindset to evaporate. As things stand presently I am looking at a club racked with uncertainty and heading for another season of disappointment. That little Jiminy Cricket voice is no longer making itself heard and the negative thoughts I have about Ellis Short’s stewardship are returning as I detect an influence that will see us starting another season looking for a new manager with a squad no longer fired up by Big Sam’s (and our) vision of the future.

I may be being unfair to a man who has to look after his personal interests as well as those of Sunderland AFC and I certainly don’t want to see us do a Blackpool, Portsmouth, Leeds or Coventry City but I detect the influence of an owner determined to show just who really runs the show – a stance that could see us go from a position of strength to relegation fodder again. I thought a few weeks ago that he had learned through past mistakes but the overwhelming feeling I have now is that he hasn’t.

Jake: 'MD airing his dirty laundry in public' ..'
Jake: ‘MD airing his dirty laundry in public’

We could have predicted that England wouldn’t do well in the Euros. We could have predicted that Hodgson would be out of a job by the start of the month. I’m not sure that we could have predicted just how many people would lobby for Sam Allardyce to become his replacement. It seemed Sam’s time had come and gone when the FA didn’t have the facilities to watch his Power Point presentation but now it appears that not only is he becoming the bookies’ favourite but also that the club he currently manages is doing its best to alienate him. Only a week ago I was hopeful that even if he was offered the England job he would turn it down. I saw a man on a mission who envisaged great things on Wearside. Now I detect a man frustrated by a club which seems not to be 100% behind him.

I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and like most people my gut reaction comes from what I see myself and what is reported in the media but Big Sam’s return from Austria has me worried. The failure to sign Davide Santon at the last minute has me worried. The apparent lack of progress with both Yann M’Vila and DeAndre Yedlin has me worried.

When Allardyce was appointed he brought one man with him – Mark Taylor. Taylor was (we are led to believe) the man who brought about the Kirchhoff, Kone and Khazri deals. A man who was to be dismissed by the club just weeks later. But now with a new chief executive at the helm (and to be fair less than two weeks into his new post) it would not be unreasonable to suggest that Big Sam must be fuming with the lack of activity in the transfer market. A few years back when Quinny was chairman and doing the rounds of Supporters’ Clubs he talked about the games that agents and clubs played in an attempt to best serve their own interests when trying to sign and sell players, but our current manager must be frustrated by the club’s apparent inability to strengthen his squad with sufficient time to get them all working his way. The first pre-season friendly is just a week and a day off.

So how significant is his return from Austria and why is he back? Could it be that as I type, he is at the club thrashing out a new contract and holding high level discussions with top transfer targets or is he taking the opportunity whilst in the country, to check the powers that be at the Football Association have got a laptop and an overhead projector?

If it’s the former then I think we can still look forward to the new season with anticipation. If it’s the latter then I fear the worst.

15 thoughts on “Big Sam’s flight home – is Short shooting Sunderland in the foot again?”

  1. In the midst of all this debate about whether Sam is soon to be unveiled as the new England boss, I have maybe failed to get my main point across strongly enough which is that Sunderland AFC’s recruitment policy has been abysmal over the past few seasons.

    In Allardyce I had hoped we had seen the last of the Director of Football model and that it would be the manager who largely decided which players he did and didn’t want. I may be off the mark but the impression I am getting is that the club is still prevaricating in the transfer market and looking for cut price players and failing to strengthen the squad.

    Sam is not the only man who could do a good job at Sunderland but he had made it clear what he expected if he was to take the club forward. Like others before him it would seem he is seeing his ambition thwarted.

    As far as I know he hasn’t been offered the England job yet but my argument is that a) if he is the decision will be made easier if he feels the owner is not 100% behind him and b) the positivity and feel good factor that I had hoped would carry on in the new season will soon disappear if new faces (and some familiar ones) don’t appear soon.

    Previous coaches have gone having been let down by poor recruitment. Advocaat in particular seemed to have been made promises that weren’t kept. Now it looks as if Allardyce is suffering the same fate.

    My worry is that from a position of strength that came at the end of last season we are showing no signs of progress and that (in my view) comes from the owner’s directives.

  2. I don’t think Sam will get the England job,last time he was 2nd to Steve McClaren and we know what he was like “Bloody Useless” .The FA didn’t like Sam then,they don’t like him now! So it looks like we’re stuck with him,and looking for a top 6 position or even higher,I think the 4 players we need will be bought and the course of history for this club will be changed forever……Der Plane! Der Plane!

    • I hope you are right Ian, but I am not so confident. I imagine that the idiots at the FA are beginning to realise how useless their last few appointments have been.

      I understand that Sir Alex has strongly supported Sam. The FA might well take their lead from people like him?

  3. To be fair to the man wearing the breathing apparatus, at least the Smoggos seem to be strenthening (and they know what away strip they’ll be wearing next season).

  4. I am with Malcolm on most of the above but would wholeheartedly dismiss any notion of Sam being tempted more by the possibility of the England job because he is frustrated at decisions taken above his head at SAFC. The national job is the one he has made no secret of wanting. He’d go in a heartbeat if offered it and we would right to be bitterly disappointed, wrong to feel any sense of disloyalty.

    And Short would not be to blame for it.

    The “frustration” aspect would be relevant only Sam he resigned in dismay at having his hands tied in the transfer markets (whether on fee, wages or choice of player) and/or went to another club.

    • I don’t disagree about him having made no secret about wanting the England job in the past but I do feel that the fact Taylor has gone and that he is not seeing transfers completed could well remove any doubts he might have had about walking away, if indeed he is offered the job.

      At the end of last season it seemed as if the club and the region had got under the skin of Sam and others. The reactions of Van Aanholt, Kaboul, Defoe, Kone, Yedlin, Cattermole of course and others all pointed at a club that was as one.

      We were full of optimism that the season ahead would be a good one. It’s not Sam’s fault that the England situation has introduced an element of doubt but the lack of activity in the transfer market and the pulling of the plug on the Santon deal hasn’t helped.

      It seems to be that those responsible for tying up the deals and negotiating signings are working under a remit that comes from above. That’s not to say Short shouldn’t be prudent in his stewardship but it’s a repeat of what happened when Advocaat was persuaded to return. Coaches/managers seem to be asking for Rolex quality and being told they’ll have to make do with Swatch products instead.

  5. I think it’s been high on Sam’s list of unfinished business to do the England job. He’d jump at the chance regardless of whichever board he was under.
    Short is doing the right thing in allowing Sam to speak to the FA; if Sam is offered the job he’s off whether he has the backing of Short or not. If he doesn’t get the FA job and wasn’t allowed to speak to them by Short it would sour their relationship.
    It’s out of our – and Short’s – hands.
    Fingers crossed the FA turn him down and Sam has something to prove to them!

    • There might also be a release clause in his contract,
      Short’s hands are tied, other than persuasion. I imagine
      that the present contract is already well endowed. The worrying aspect is that it could drag on another month.

  6. Allardyce himself could resolve the issue by stating that he is going to stay. Transfer activity is slow everywhere, the only club in Sunderland’s range where something has happened is Crystal Palace. The uncertainty around Allardyce’s position must be hindering movement, the very thing he himself bemoans. The club is in danger of being held to ransom by Allardyce and the FA.

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