Monsieur Salut writes: I detected little optimism in close season about our prospects for a quick return to the Premier League, Hope, yes, but we always suffer from that. I imagine you’d get pretty long odds just now on us recovering from a dismal start and getting back up. As things stand, there’s more chance of winning something playing live casino games than of the present bunch of players leading a determined charge on the top six, let alone the top two.
But we can probably all agree the start to the season has been rather more dismal than most of us expected. Pete Sixsmith’s second goal update from the Stadium of Light reported the start of the exodus vs Sheffield United. And now Paul Summerside, briefly optimistic about the Simon Grayson era, has returned to the sulky gloom he experienced as Sunderland wasted everyone’s time last season (the old Jeremy Robson joke – ‘shall we just fax the points to you and save us all the trouble of staging or attending a game?’- rang true week after week).
Paul has sparked a lively debate at the Salut! Sunderland Facebook group* on the correct response, as he sees it, to the terrible malaise afflicting our club. His is drastic …
Paul Summerside was Mr Doom and Gloom last season – as, in our different ways, were most of the rest of us – and eventually went on strike, boycotting the Stadium of Light in protest at David Moyes still being in charge.
After one home draw against broadly similar underachievers, he/we will hardly be proclaiming the return of Good Times. But in a fascinating debate at Salut! Sunderland‘s Facebook pages – join the group* if you haven’t already – he made these cautiously upbeat points. The optimism depends on Simon Grayson getting the proceeds of the Jeremain Lens departure (UPDATE: on reflection a lot less sensible and lucrative than it appeared; just a loan with SAFC receiving only £1.4m – and more – to strengthen his side …
See club statement on Simon Grayson’s appointment as manager at this link
Paul Summerside went on strike last season, boycotting games because Sunderland were persisting with David Moyes. He senses a lot of underwhelmed reaction from supports to the approach to Simon Grayson but feels he is not only a potentially sound choice, but maybe the only one open to us …
Well it would seem Ellis Short’s Plan A to asset strip, lean down and sell on, in order to recoup the majority of his investment, is a non-starter.
Was it ever a starter?
Certainly not at £90 million.
Now to Plan B. Get the club stabilised and then promoted (in order to carry out plan A).
So we have reached June 29, the retail launch of the new and controversial home kit (I still like the front, hate the back) and a time of the summer when all the big or ambitious clubs, and most of the ones that are neither, are well advanced in preparing for the coming season.
All except us. At least, that was the case until just now.
Talks on selling the club have collapsed, Ellis Short is staying as owner and moves are afoot to bring Simon Grayson from PNE as manager,
UPDATE: See club statement on Simon Grayson’s appointment as manager at this link
Even before the lamentable SAFC club statement on the bleak farce of the supposed attempts to sign a manager, Pete Sixsmith had – with customary eloquence and gallows humour – captured the miserable state of affairs with his piece entitled “The comic opera that is SAFC just now“.
Then came the extraordinary statement announcing that Ellis Short’s business affairs, specifically his desire to sell the club, were holding up an appointment.
“Thanks for utterly wasting my time,” Derek McInnes must have been thinking.
Malcolm Dawson writes……..David Moyes might have been lured to the North East with false promises about a year ago but surely no self respecting potential candidate for the vacant manager’s office at the Stadium of Light can be under any illusions about which way the club is going. Peter Sixsmith isn’t either as he considers yet another situation which reflects badly on the club.
I’VE GOT A LITTLE LIST…..
For reasons that are of no significance, I have been listening to an excellent recording of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera “The Mikado.” It’s a great combination of Gilbert’s brilliant lyrics and the sparkling music of Sullivan and it gave me much pleasure as I drove back from Leeds Rhino’s 18-14 win at Wakefield Trinity.
One of the songs is a duet between Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner and Yum-Yum, his betrothed entitled “Here’s a how-de-do,” the second verse of which starts;
“Here’s a pretty mess, In a month or less”
That just about sums up the predicament that Sunderland AFC are in at the moment as Derek McInnes turned down the manager’s job on Thursday night. Three weeks today, our pre-season opens at Gigg Lane, Bury and at the moment we are sans manager, sans players, sans ideas, sans everything, as the Bard of Avon says – although I personally think that Shakespeare (Bill not Craig) would have said it better.
I would imagine that McInnes turned it down for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there is a new majority shareholder at Aberdeen who is making some very positive noises about moving the club on. He spoke very well about McInnes and the faith and trust that he appears to have put in his current manager must have played a part in the rejection.
Secondly, he may well have realised that there is not a great deal of money to spend at Sunderland despite the parachute money and the sale of Jordan Pickford. Debts have to be paid and allowances have to be made for the impending departure of Ellis Short.
Which brings us to the third point and that is the rumours of new ownership. New owners, be they German, Chinese or the re-incarnation of Barry Batey, may well have different ideas from the current owner and Chief Executive and may well want to bring their own management team in. McInnes has a good job at Pittordrie, has his family settled there and is sufficiently well paid not to have to up sticks and move south.
All of which are perfectly laudable and acceptable reasons, but you wonder if there is anything else. Chris Sutton suggested that he would be mad to take the job and, despite the encouragement of Walter Smith, there must have been other voices from Scotland and from England telling him that this was not a club that would do much to advance his career. And you can see why. There are Aberdeen players in the Republic of Ireland system who may well have heard Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane talking in somewhat disparaging terms about the club administration.
Dick Advocaat left complaining about promises that were not kept. Sam Allardyce said not a word about the club as he clumped off to run the England team for a single, solitary match.
Security at Aberdeen or a shambles at Sunderland? I know which one I would choose.
And so we move on to the next name on Martin Bain’s list. It could be Simon Grayson or Nigel Clough or Sven Goran Erikson, who was dismissed by his Chinese club yesterday. What about Neil Warnock? How about Michael O’Neill? Kevin Phillips might be enticed back to the Stadium.
Whoever it is (and I assume we will have someone in charge before the English Football League season starts), it is not encouraging for the support. Most of us have had a low key summer, keeping our heads down while other clubs in our division appoint managers and clubs above us revel in fixtures that pit them against Liverpool rather than Leeds and Chelsea rather than Cardiff.
Our faith in the current ownership and administration is ebbing away quickly and Martin Bain has much to do if he is to win a sceptical and suspicious support over. We have given up with Ellis Short; the quicker he sells up the better now. His time at Sunderland AFC is done.
The patter song in The Mikado (most G and S operas have a patter song) is Ko-Ko singing “I’ve got a little list.” Martin Bain’s looks to be getting shorter as each day passes.
John McCormick writes: end of season reviews have just begin, with Lars Knutsen providing the first with a piece entitled “Hire and fire”. Some time in the next couple of weeks, depending on how many reviews there are, Pete Sixsmith will bring the season to a close.
But M Salut called on Pete to perform a duty first, and Pete stepped up to the mark in fine style. Here’s his take on the hiring, but perhaps not the firing, of a manager who promised so much and delivered nothing but dust:
STOP PRESS – Lars submitted this piece well before the season end, before the Arsenal game in fact. It has been sitting in the draft folder for a week and would you know it – within minutes of it going live Moyes resigns. MD
Malcolm Dawson, deputy editor, writes: at the end of a season that will linger long in the memory as one we would wish to forget, Salut! Sunderland approached both its regular and occasional contributors for their thoughts. Don’t be fooled by the name – Lars Knutsen is Mackem through and through and even though his work took him away from his Boldon roots to Cambridge via Scandinavia and the USA. he retains his love of SAFC. Working as he did in the pharmaceutical sector you’d think he might have driven his troops into researching a cure for the compulsion to follow a club that has been a long term underachiever but no – like the rest of us he is stuck with his lot.
Monsieur Salut adds: a series of painful steroid injections to a dodgy knee reminded me today it was time to launch this series of end-of-season reviews. With thanks to Malcolm for preparing Lars’s contribution for publication, let me make it clear the series is open to all Salut! Sunderland readers who have time and inclination to offer their own reviews of a season. Just let us know – leave a message below or use the contact link you’ll find somewhere on the home page