For the third of our end-of-season reports, we gazed across the Atlantic to find Robert Simmons, whose occasional offerings as a Stateside supporter of Sunderland bemuse some, who cannot understand how anyone would choose such an allegiance without family or geographical connections, but delight others. Robert presents conclusions on a disappointing season from his entertainingly different perspective …
While Arsenal was busy dispatching Wigan on Tuesday night and ensuring top flight safety for Sunderland, I was busy at a work retreat at a lake house in the mountains.
It was quite a nice location except for a few small details: no television, no internet, no phone service, so no update on the Arsenal/Wigan match.
So while I spent a few days wondering at the Premier League status of Sunderland for next season I also got the opportunity to get to know a few of my co-workers better.
One of the things we all had to do was this little exercise. Each one of us had to pick three words that best described our past year at work. I came up with some answer that sufficed for the situation, but I also decided I’d come up with three words that described this past year as a Sunderland fan and share them with you.
Being a Sunderland fan in America is lonely because there are few of us around. Most of our games aren’t carried on the main networks and I have to watch on the online channel for Foxsoccer (they carry the EPL in the States). However this season was extra lonely because I wanted so much to lament to others the state of our club as evidenced in our poor use of the transfer windows, our under achieving players, and our now former manager who seemed to have lost his knack for motivating his players. All of my friends who watch and follow football are fans of the Manchester or London clubs and give little care to what is happening in the northeast. They aren’t used to the woes of a club like Sunderland and can’t relate to the happenings of a football club that doesn’t simply cover their woes with an enormous spending spree. For me, this year has been lonely.
What happened to Adam Johnson? Was he overrated at Manchester City or has he under-performed without other star players around him? Did Martin O’Neill forget how to manage and motivate? Why did he bemoan our thin squad and then proceed to loan or sell many of our squad players who could have been helpful when injuries and suspensions hit. How in the world did this team who failed to beat a 10 man Norwich side also beat Man City, Everton, and Newcastle? How did we escape the drop? Many of these things I may should have expected, but for me this has been a season full of surprises.
In spite of all that has happened at the club this year, our position in the Premier League is safe for another year. We have a new manager in Paulo Di Canio who admittedly is unproven but also gives me encouragement that next season can be different. This season has finished hopeful for me. Sure we needed Arsenal to beat Wigan, but we also went out and got wins against our two biggest bogey teams in Newcastle and Everton. I’m confident that I may be being too naive, but I expect better things for next year. I know it won’t always be pretty, and the bumps in the road may be significant, but with Ellis Short and Paulo Di Canio leading the club I feel safe in knowing that our future can be bright.
Ha’way the Lads!