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 newsnow.co.uk … 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.