John McCormick writes:
Pete Sixsmith reports that it’s cold, wet and miserable where he is – presumably Sixsmith Towers, deep in County Durham. It’s not much better here, down south in Liverpool.
But news has come in that we have a manager. Is that sufficient to warm the cockles of our too-chilled hearts? I think it might be, and so does Pete, judging by the welcome he’s penned for Simon Grayson:
MEET THE NEW BOSS….
Here’s hoping The Who song doesn’t apply here, because the last thing we need is “the same as the old boss” – or we will get fooled again.
For what it’s worth, I think that this is a good appointment. It’s not an absolute fizzer like Keane and it shouldn’t be an absolute catastrophe like Di Canio, more of a McCarthy one in that both are good, solid Yorkshiremen and are good solid managers – and the South Yorkshireman took us up in his second season with players like Carl Robinson, Ben Alnwick and Stephen Wright.
He created a good first impression, which wouldn’t have been hard after the dourness that we have had to face since late August of last year. He sounds as if he believes in himself and his abilities (I don’t think that David Moyes ever did) and he speaks clearly and with all the forthrightness that we associate with those born in the broad acres of England’s finest county.
He comes from Ripon, went to school in Bedale, where his father taught at the High School and took the footballing route whereas his brother Paul stuck to cricket. Both did well at their chosen career paths, being good, solid players rather than shooting stars.
It’s Paul who has the nickname Larry as it is compulsory to have a nickname in cricket. C.M. Old of Yorkshire and England was known as “Chilly,” Paul Romaines, Shildon lad and Gloucestershire stalwart for many years, answered to “Human” while Kevin Peterson is known to all and sundry as “Thoroughly Obnoxious T***.”
We shall have to think of an appropriate one for Simon but it should be easy after “Keano”, “Brucey,” and “Moyesey. How about “Graysony” or even “Perry” in homage to the cross dressing sculptor and cultural commentator? Or perhaps not.
Anyway, whatever we call him, we have a new manager and I am sure that he will take a long look at the players while they are puffing and wheezing up and down the Alps in Austria. He will already have his scouts out working, looking for two or three forwards, a goalkeeper, a centre half and at least one winger – which may or may not be Aidan McGeady, whose faltering career was resurrected at Deepdale.
He also has to work with a limited budget and some players who will be as keen to leave the club as he was to join it. Borini has left for A.C. Milan and it would be a true optimist who would expect to see either Kone or Khazri playing at The Stadium after the end of August.
The greater problem is what on earth is going to happen to the club rather than the team? It is clear that Ellis Short is only marginally keener to own Sunderland AFC than Philip Green was to own British Home Stores. The consortia bidding for the club both fell by the wayside, leaving the Missourian in sole control with no other directors save the Chief Executive, Martin Bain.
Bain has come across as business-like and authoritative recently and at least we know what he looks like and how he speaks. For all we heard of Margaret Byrne, she could have been a mix of Mrs Doyle and Arlene Robinson with a touch of Shane McGowan thrown in.
Grayson has worked at Blackpool for the Oystons before they went mad, Ken Bates (boos all round) at Elland Road, Dean Hoyle, the founder of the Card Factory chain at Huddersfield and Trevor Hemmings, an octogenarian racehorse owner at Preston. He can add a reluctant American to that list.
That Short is still the owner of the club gives some cause for concern. He has clearly lost whatever interest he had and seems keen, if not quite desperate, to sell. Like his fellow Missourians, he appears to be sceptical about groups trying to buy him out and taking advantage of the weak situation that he and Sunderland AFC find themselves in.
When he came into the club, I wrote a piece that pointed out that Missouri is known as “The Show Me State” because the inhabitants of that mid-western land are sceptical of words and prefer to be shown something rather than be seduced by a silvery tongue.
We now need to see if this Missourian will allow the club to breathe again. We are in a shocking state at the moment and there is a possibility of administration due to rash spending by managers, huge salaries negotiated by the lord knows who and more concern being shown for concerts than cup ties.
The most famous of his fellow Missourians was President Harry Truman, a man elevated to the Presidency after the death of FDR in 1944. Faced with decisions which make the appointment of a football manager pale into insignificance, he had a sign on his desk which said “The Buck Stops Here.”