End of season reviews: (7) A Sunderland sequence … 6-6-3-5-5-2-2-1

Jake: ‘I did think a pile of manure might be the right image’

Ken Gambles has paid the price of being too conscientious. Ken’s end-of-season review arrived so quickly that by the time we got round to publishing the series, Monsieur Salut had completely forgotten it. Apologies to Ken. But now sit back and appreciate, later than intended, his thoughts – and a heartening conclusion even if one that has Ken questioning his mental health …

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End of season reviews: (2) from Moyes misery to a SuperKev dream?

… through the Championship, we’re on our way?

Colin Randall writes: the horrendous events of Manchester, death and injury inflicted by one person with nothing to offer humanity, with the possible help of others, diminishes the appetite for the petty subject of football. But part of refusing to allow terrorism to win involves doing all we can to continue normal life. People have taken the trouble to respond to requests for end-of-season reviews and it is right, while expressing sympathy for and solidarity with the victims, that we should keep the series going.

Here, Mick Goulding, a familiar if only occasional contributor, expertly assesses the cycle of disappointment that goes with supporting Sunderland ….

SEE all items in the series at this link

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End of Season reviews: sunshine on a rainy day

Jake: 'thanks to all have shared their thoughts in this feature'
Jake: ‘thanks to all have shared their thoughts in this feature’

Once again, a series of Salut! Sunderland end of season reviews has inspired our writers to show remarkable powers of analysis, foresight and wit. Pete Sixsmith opened the series, with his brief jottings for The Observer, and will close it with his broader, post-Advocaat view. For the penultimate instalment, our deputy editor Malcolm Dawson cries out for consistency, progress and, above all, some football he can actually enjoy watching …

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Sunderland End-of-Season Reviews: (1) we wanted him, we got him

Jake revealed at last?

Jake steps from behind his New Age easel and describes in words the season he has been drawing so cleverly for these pages. It doesn’t matter that the season is not quite over; win, lose or draw in the final challenge, v Man Utd tomorrow, it has been ( as Jake, anonymous in his exile in north-western Spain, says) a season of three thirds. Before knocking his command of the blindingly obvious, read on to see what he means. More contributors’ assessments will follow in the coming days …

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Sunderland report cards: (8) Pete Sixsmith tastes the delight and despair

For the final part of our series of end-of-season reports, we turn to Pete Sixsmith, whose previews, commentary and match analyses distinguish the pages of Salut! Sunderland, proving that the sum of the parts can indeed be greater than the whole. Concluding a fascinating collection of reviews published over the past week or so, Pete offers a balanced assessment of what Steve Bruce has achieved, and where he has under-achieved …

Another season gone, the 47th of my regular Sunderland-supporting life – and the third most successful if league positions are the sole criteria of a good season.

The only ones to beat it were the two seventh places under Peter Reid, so Steve Bruce has exceeded anything that Alan Brown, Ian McColl, Bob Stokoe, Jimmy Adamson, Ken Knighton, Alan Durban, Len Ashurst, Lawrie McMenemy, Dennis Smith, Malcolm Crosby, Terry Butcher, Mick Buxton, Howard Wilkinson, Mick McCarthy, Roy Keane and various assorted caretakers and stop gaps have achieved. And yet…….

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Sunderland report cards: (7) ‘Steve Bruce’s critics will eat their words’

This is exactly what the series needed, as full-blown an endorsement of Steve Bruce as it is possible to imagine. Not because Martin Robson*, an exile in Vancouver, is necessarily right – all Salut! Sunderland readers will have a view on that – but because there has inevitably been a lot of criticism, despite the healthy finale, and it is important to see, acknowledge and then be able to assess the case for the defence …

After four decades of unfaltering allegiance, I could be forgiven for the following analogy: supporting Sunderland is a little bit like volunteering to stick your head and arms into a medieval stock in the middle of a thriving thoroughfare, inviting public humiliation and the scorn of those who pass by.

It’s a thankless slog. A pride-swallowing siege. An up and down ride-along with far more troughs than peaks. And so it was this last season.

The question is this. Are we making progress in the playing department? Are we on the right path? Is Steve Bruce the man to guide us to better times? I believe we are, and he is, and here’s why.

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