As Salut! Sunderland winds down, Pete Sixsmith comes up with an idea to keep us occupied in our remaining weeks. He will describe each of the 13 managers seen at Sunderland since this site was created at the beginning of 2007.
That means he starts by remembering the short, explosive reign of Roy Keane. It may be recalled that when Keano took over at a salary of £1m-a-year shortly after a calamitous start to the 2006-2007 season, he responded to a warts-and-all, player-by-player appraisal of the squad he was inheriting by saying: ‘Good grief (or similar)? I should have asked for £2m.’ …
Yet for a time, he made it work, a sensational bottom-to-top romp to promotion as champions followed by a hard-fought survival year back in the Premier League. Then it went wrong as Sixer explains …
Monsieur Salut couldn’t be in Sunderland today but pieces together the bits he has gleaned about the confirmed purchase of SAFC …
Stewart Donald confirmed today that his takeover of Sunderland AFC from Ellis Short had been completed. The club is now debt-free after Short accepted a £40m purchase price to be paid over two years.
Donald told a news conference at the Stadium of Light that the takeover was concluded on Sunday night after being approved by the EFL on Friday.
He said it was his hope to have a new manager appointed in a week or less to give him as much of the summer as possible for rebuilding.
— Jeff Brown (@JeffAB61) May 21, 2018
Malcolm Dawson, deputy editor, writes: last week I composed my contribution to Salut! Sunderland‘s end of season review series – see all items so far at this link – in response to Monsieur Salut’s urgings and thought back to my feelings at the end of term when Big Sam had engineered yet another Great Escape.
In 2016 I referenced Ian Dury’s hit Reasons to Be Cheerful Part 3 to follow on from the previous year when I had used the title of the Zoe record Sunshine on a Rainy Day which in turn had followed that of Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies. I chose those songs because my articles all spoke with unjustifiable optimism, despite my constant disappointments following Sunderland AFC. There was always something to give me a little bit of hope.
But time spent recovering from surgery meant that I missed a couple of games in the Moyes reign and caused me to rethink whether or not I needed my fix of footballing disappointment. With Ellis Short in control of the club I could only see it going one way and made up my mind that I would not renew my season card as long as he was the owner. That in turn led to what follows – the bulk of which was written before last weekend’s announcements. For anyone who hasn’t spotted this year’s reference let me refer you to The Smiths and What Difference Does It Make?
Monsieur Salut writes: read on to learn what little we know about the welcome departure of E Short esquire as owner of SAFC. And here is the thoroughly inadequate SAFC statement on Chris Coleman’s sacking:
Sunderland AFC announces that manager Chris Coleman and his assistant Kit Symons have been released from their contracts. The club would like to place on record its sincere thanks to Chris and Kit for their tireless efforts in what has been a hugely disappointing season for everyone involved with the club. The club is unable to make further comment at this time.
It would be an exaggeration to suggest Martin Bain as a name to inspire great affection and confidence among the fans. He may merely be doing Ellis Short’s bidding in energetically cutting costs to please the owner. But the cost to the club of that exercise has become painfully clear and Bain must realise he bears a sizeable share of responsibility for our shocking position.
Salut! Sunderland would be quite pleased to see the back of him, and suspects most supporters feel likewise. But in the interests of fairness, and in line with our desire to report all sides on major issues affecting the club, here is a piece quoting his remarks to local media. The comments – drawn from interviews with the Sunderland Echo/Shields Gazette, Newcastle Evening Chronicle and the BBC (*see footnote for links), seemed designed as much to send upbeat messages to potential buyer as to appease supporters, though he says he ‘totally understands’ their anger, anguish and frustration ….
It bears the hallmarks of a statement dictated by Martin Bain (CEO) and tidied up in the press office. It tells us what we know and offers the right buzz words and phrases: demoralising season, devastated, humbling support, deep-rooted passion, rise again and so on.
It even includes a “sorry”. Nay, “truly sorry”. But did Ellis Short have the least input? Was the sorry his? Remember, this is a man who may have tried to do his best for our club but ended up finger-pointing at the media, a classic cause-and-effect scenario since he freely admits he won’t even talk to reporters.
In the words of Oliver Cromwell, Ellis, “depart I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”
Malcolm Dawson writes…….Sunderland spurned two good opportunities to improve their ever decreasing chances of survival last night. The first when Aiden McGeady failed to convert a penalty in the first half and the second with yet another example of defensive frailty in the dying minutes. OK in theory they are still grasping a lifeline that is becoming more and more slippery as the games run out, but in their desperate thrashings about all they seem to have done is put a slow puncture in the life raft and toss the bailer overboard.
There were other chances to put the game to bed. Listening to Barnes and Benno, it sounded as if Ejaria and Gooch in particular had good opportunities to put us further on the score sheet and much maligned Ashley Fletcher almost scored after 15 seconds. Perhaps it’s the almost which leads to the much maligned tag.
But it wasn’t all one way and The Canaries had chances of their own. Did they deserve their point? Did we deserve ours? The long suffering Pete Sixsmith was there. How did he see last night’s proceedings? Here just to show we can all do metaphor at Salut! Sunderland is his latest set of observations.
NORWICH CITY (HOME)
The life support machine is about to be switched off. The friends and relatives are gathering around the bed of what was once a healthy occupant reduced to a husk and expecting to expire in the next ten days.
The Missourian Director of the Hospital has much to answer for. He has allocated a number of surgeons to this case and all have, in their own way, failed to restore the patient to rude health. There was an Italian extrovert who turned out to be a snake oil salesman, followed by a Uruguayan who felt that this noble northern outpost should be like the West London one that he had spent a number of years in. Unfortunately the medical staff in situ and those he imported from South America, Spain and er…. West Bromwich Albion did not improve things – although the Spaniard did pretty well at the aforementioned West London location.
A pragmatic Dutchman came and resuscitated the patient, left, came back and left again dissatisfied with the breaking of promises to be replaced by another pragmatist who recruited a trio of Europeans, organised the existing medical staff to do their jobs properly and then departed to run the National Health Service – for a while at least!
He was replaced by a Scot so dour that it was, in the words of PG Wodehouse, never difficult to distinguish a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine (Vicky Sparks will testify to that) and after his lame attempts at surgery saw the patient placed in intensive care, his successor despite being a Yorkshireman found this job (and maybe even his subsequent one at Bradford) way beyond him and so we have ended up with the surgery being supervised by a loquacious but rather conservative Welshman.
His attempts to instigate a recovery relied on borrowing young staff with potential from top level institutions and those who were under employed in locations similar to the one at which he worked. Throw in a few grizzled veterans of at least three of the above Chief Surgeons, a handful of ambitious but limited youngsters and a couple who seem to be (oxymoron alert!!!) permanently peripatetic and we have seen the patient slide inexorably to the state it is in now.
The surgeons have tried hard and, although they should take some of the blame, the fault lies at the top, as a fellow Missourian of the Hospital Director said when assuming the Presidency of the United States, “the buck stops here.” Alas, the HD has now absented himself from his responsibilities and is in hiding somewhere in Texas, never to return.
That’s enough of the extended metaphor.
Let’s have a look at last night. Could we have won? Probably. Should we have won? Probably not.
Chances to win the game and put pressure on a Bolton side who are struggling were there but were missed. McGeady’s penalty hit the post and bounced out. Ejaria managed to tangle his feet up and scramble his brain when all he had to do was lift the ball over Gunn in the Norwich goal. Honeyman (our best player on the night and probably our player of the season) hit the side netting when he really should have scored. Had we gone in two up at the interval, we would have gone on to win …… maybe.
However, this fails to mention the number of chances that Norwich missed. Prompted in midfield by James Maddison – a player to look for in the Premier League next season – and with the excellent Nelson Olivera up front, they contrived to put more balls over the bar than Kevin Sinfield and hit more posts than a man putting a fence up. Towards the end, when we fell apart and stopped defending, they could have had three goals and it was no surprise when Ivo Pinto levelled in the 89th minute.
Once again, we failed to defend a set piece. The ball was won by their centre half who was hardly challenged. Pinto, a full back and not a very good one, then had time to control the ball, change feet, have a shower and cook an omelette before he poked the ball over the line with no Sunderland player anywhere near him. By then, legs had gone and nerves had not held. O’Shea had gone off with a back and a groin problem (tough on Mrs O’Shea) and the loanee from Chelsea, Jake Clarke-Salter, looked like a man who would rather be anywhere than playing in a Sunderland home game.
The older pros on the field – Cattermole and Kone- were also shattered both physically and mentally. For Cattermole, games have three phases. At the start, he struggles. Passes are misplaced, tackles are missed and he looks lost. Then he settles into the game and performs well. Unfortunately, after 70 minutes his legs have gone and his brain has slowed down and he resorts to kicking the ball anywhere, sometimes extending that to kicking the opposition. Kone is pulled out of position far too easily. Olivera did that a number of times in the first half although he tired towards the end as well. Kone can be a good player but takes no responsibility and clearly cannot wait to get away from Sunderland. What if we had let him go to Everton and The Dour Scot had invested the money wisely and not on Djilobodji and Ndong?
This lack of responsibility shows itself in poor game management. The number of times we needlessly gave the ball away is beyond comprehension. At times, it is like watching Sunday morning football and whoever we sign next season (there are good players in the National Leagues and below who would be worth a pitch) they have to be able to pass a ball, cross a ball, defend a ball and save a ball. Too many of ours cannot do that.
Ashley Fletcher had a better game last night and gave a slight indication as to why he has had two big transfers. He actually led the line and that enabled Honeyman, McGeady and Gooch to pick up second ball.
Honeyman deserved his goal and never stopped all night. Sometimes, honest endeavour makes up for a lack of genuine quality and he could be an important player in Division One next season. McGeady played well and it was his run and shot that set up the goal. Shame about the penalty – the last one we missed was at Molineux in December 2011 after Steve Bruce had been dismissed. Gooch promises much but needs to produce more. He is strong and quick, but his last ball is not good enough. He has worked hard on aspects of his game and needs to focus on this now.
The chances of winning the final four games are not quantifiable. Bookies would refuse your money and would call for the men in the white coats to come and take you away. We know where we are and who we are. Fleetwood, Accrington and Oxford will find out next season. Once the Director of the Hospital has left, the patient may well begin a very slow recovery. Whether it is under the current Head Surgeon is a matter for debate.
We may return to this next week.
If there is any copyright claim, not answered by ‘fair use’ exemptions, on the video and images used to illustrate this report, please make us aware and we will add credits or remove as requested.
UPDATE: to no great surprise, the early voting has “unbounded joy” way out in front, with “joy” and cautious “hope” following on. But Sixer and James Hunter remain unconvinced the story even has legs …
The Chronicle’s James Hunter, who writes well on SAFC, advises us to to treat the reports with caution. Then along comes the BBC with its own version, namely that our absentee owner Ellis Short has spoken to (or, as the Beeb inelegantly puts it, “spoken with”) Niall Quinn about a possible consortium takeover.
Salut! Sunderland has no inside information. But it sincerely hopes – or, since I can speak only for myself, Monsieur Salut hopes – it is true.
Monsieur Salut is left at a loose end, feeling a little redundant with no need to post a Guess the Score or the Derby County “Who are You?” that is already tucked away in the safe …
It comes as something of a relief to have no forthcoming weekend match to fret about.
In truth, the international break could not have come too soon. Some of us would almost like it to continue until May when, in silent shame, we accept our fate and prepare for life in the next division down, knowing there will be no Eric or Marco or Benno to get us straight back up again.
Let it be made clear that grandparents cannot be held responsible for what happens, provided lawful, between their sons and daughters and their grandchildren.
So Barry Emmerson must not feel personally culpable because his son, Martin, took 10-year-old Abigail, known to Salut! Sunderland readers, to her first Sunderland game after a recent dip in enthusiasm. The game Abigail chose was Villa at home … she describes the experience here while walking home with her dad after the score went to 0-3. And now Barry, responding to Pete Sixsmith’s eloquent portrayal of death barely warmed up, tells of the anguish it left him feeling