A calamitous season was followed by the calculated torpor of close-season inactivity at SAFC. Suddenly, we moved forward a little, the would-be German takeover collapsing and Simon Grayson arriving as manager. Ken Gambles isn’t getting carried away but sees reason for cautious optimism and offers a proud comparison with the (presumaby pre-Chinese, pre-Russian sponsorship) Bundesliga side Schalke 04 …
The reference to silver lining has nothing to do with Jeff Beck, nor even John, heaven forbid, just – and we are thankful – some stirrings of hope after the disastrous season recently ended.
As I wrote in my end-of-season Salut! Sunderland review – they series can be viewed at this link – “hope has almost gone”. And following a conspiracy of silence from the club for six weeks or so at last came what I feel to be a positive move.
It’s true that Simon Grayson would have been few people’s first choice yet his manner, his approach to the game, his record, the respect in which he’s held and importantly what he has said thus far about our club, its players and our future has finally started to clear some of the pessimistic miasma enveloping Sunderland AFC.
He seems to be in the no-nonsense, honest, plain-speaking Mick McCarthy mould (19 and 15 points, I know, I know) and having prospered at the basket case that was Leeds United under Ken Bates then he should be able to handle our many shortcomings (pun intended).
It might well be just the traditional growth of optimism an enthusiasm as a new season approaches but I’m definitely in a happier frame of mind than in May.
Many questions and likely problems lie ahead but I’ve also been heartened by comments I’ve read recently which, while not specifically about SAFC, have some relevance.
I especially enjoyed learning about Schalke 04 a Bundesliga side with a coalmining history like our own.
Their club constitution states “Our future lies in our past” and clause six reads: “Collective elation and collective pain are important and valuable parts of our identity.” I’ll buy into that and love the way it’s part of the club’s beliefs.
Also with the Tour de France in its early stages, I was impressed by the words of Marc Madiot the boss of FDJ cycling ( not one of the top cycling outfits) who said: “To win you have to be ready to lose. And to lose more than you win. That way when you do win you really appreciate it.
“If you’re built to win, win, win, you no longer appreciate winning.”
Take that Sky and Chelsea! I’m aware this has become a bit like a John O’Shea rallying cry but with all the above in mind, let’s hope we can get back to punching our weight and enjoying our football again.
* The info on Schalke was from the excellent book on modern-day football And the Sun Shines Now by Adrian Tempany. Well worth a read.