Long is what we’ve had to wait for a win, if we agree that beating a team 100 or so places below us, in the cup, doesn’t really count. Short is Ellis, due to join tonight’s endurance test – watching Sunderland at home to Bolton – before meeting his manager, Steve Bruce, tomorrow.
The message to fans is simple: get behind the Lads. They need you to urge them on to an important victory. But the message to Sunderland AFC is even clearer: the time for understanding is running out …
Only a fool would deny that Steve Bruce has been unlucky with injuries this season.
We go into tonight’s massively important game against Bolton with Andy Reid, Lee Cattermole, Kieran Richardson and Jordan Henderson unavailable or doubtful.
With what is left – especially with Steed Malbranque only just emerging from the doghouse after being disciplined for a breach of curfew during the recent Arsenal trip AND likely to be offloaded anyway – you wonder from where Darren Bent and Kenwyne Jones can expect a semblance of service.
But this is no longer an ordinary crisis. Wigan’s win, following on from Bolton’s triumph at Upton Park on Saturday, pushes us even further down the table and we now hover just above the drop zone at fifth bottom.
This is not acceptable. Steve Bruce knows it. Niall Quinn knows it. Ellis Short, who has bankrolled this season’s substantial and – so far – fruitless spending spree (fruitless, that is, if you exclude the Bent goals without which we’d be as doomed as Pompey) knows it. And, in case the club is inclined to forget, the fans already being cajoled into working out how to buy 2010-11 season tickets know it, too.
It is little short of a disgrace that we should be in such a dire predicament that no one can say with remote certainty in which division we will be playing next season.
The players, whether bought or inherited by Bruce, are responsible in large part for this failure, of course. But so is Bruce (and, logically, those who appointed him).
Salut! Sunderland has given the manager hefty support. We resisted the earliest clamours for change and even suggested that the Fulham debacle was not sufficient reason to bring in someone new.
What I wrote then was this: “I remain in the ‘what’s the point?’ camp when it comes to Bruce and his job. What precisely can be gained by sacking him and expecting someone else to make the same players do something from now to the end of the season that they haven’t done since that spell in November when we beat Arsenal at home and should have beaten Spurs away – play well for whole games?”
Pete Sixsmith asked “where do we go from here?” but admitted the response was not easy: “I can’t answer the question because I don’t know. One win could relieve the tension, but where will it come from Lord only knows. However, I do know that my attachment to East Stand, Row 30, Seat 404 will not be extended if there is a relegation or unless I see some decent football between now and May.”
Failure tonight – which would include another draw – is not so much unthinkable as a scenario a neutral would consider putting a tenner on at the bookies. But it needs to be unthinkable in the players’ collective mindset.
We remain unstinting in our support for Sunderland AFC.
Salut! Sunderland hopes the fans do show patience and refrain from barracking players already low on confidence. We hope we can raise our game at the umpteenth time of asking and play with sufficient competence to win. And we hope against hope that such a win would be convincing enough to make the rest of the season seem less like a nightmare to come.
But if we are disappointed again, we may feel entitled to have strong views on how that meeting between Mr Short and Mr Bruce should go.
* Picture courtesy of Mrs Logic’s “Mrs Logic”“>Flickr pages