Bill Taylor remembers someone says football becoming like watching their Italians play your Italians. If he is right about the authorship of the quote – he thinks Len Shackleton may have said it – and a quick internet search did not help – imagine what Shack would have made of today’s Premier League. Bill wonders whether it’s time to acknowledge that when we shout for our team, we’re really shouting for ourselves …
Too much is never enough – songwriter Jim Steinman
Whore (verb): to compromise oneself for money
Perhaps we’ve been doing this all wrong…
A popular question for visiting writers of Who Are You is, “Club or country?” [It was a stock question but you remind me I have not asked anyone in ages – Ed]
I don’t remember anyone ever putting country first. This might, I’m beginning to think, be a mistake.
Apologies for typos that appeared in an earlier version: an unedited draft somehow managed to replace the finished article and this remained in place, with spelling mistakes, until spotted …
No one knows, or no one is saying, when the FA’s three wise men will put us out of our misery, and end the damaging disruption to Sunderland’s pre-season preparations, and announce their decision on England’s new manager.
Perhaps we have no real right to place our own concerns above those of England, much as some of have felt detached from the national team for years.
So within a day of an unnamed Sunderland AFC source assuring The Northern Echo and presumably others that Sam Allardyce’s abrupt departure from the Austrian trainingcamp had nothing to do with the England job, he pops up at the Cheshire home of David Gill, FA vice-chairman and one of the three wise men deciding who should follow Roy Hodgson.
Also present, along with what the Daily Mail calls Sam’s “£1,000 Louis Vuitton man-bag” containing his presentation, were the other two members of the selection panel. In other words, it was a job interview
Deputy Editor Malcolm Dawson isn’t party to what goes on behind closed doors at the Stadium of Light. Like most supporters he relies on gossip and what is reported in the media. But that doesn’t stop him reflecting on events at the club and drawing his own conclusions.
It had to happen didn’t it? It had to happen because it always happens.
We end the season on a high (17th position) and look forward to bigger and better things to come. Optimism rules in May but it doesn’t take long before it is swept away by the goings on at a club that always seems to find a way to turn even the most positive fan into a bit of a worrywart. At least it does me.
A couple of months ago I renewed my season card certain that 2016/17 would see us shoot up the table, positive that we would be threatening the top half no less, assured that under Big Sam’s stewardship we would at last see some stability and were a club moving forward. The rapport that had developed between the manager, players and the fans, the fight that that squad showed in the last five months of the season convinced me that the emotional bond and the passion, on and off the pitch would ignite the club under a manager who knew what he wanted. There was only one way to go.
It doesn’t take long for that mindset to evaporate. As things stand presently I am looking at a club racked with uncertainty and heading for another season of disappointment. That little Jiminy Cricket voice is no longer making itself heard and the negative thoughts I have about Ellis Short’s stewardship are returning as I detect an influence that will see us starting another season looking for a new manager with a squad no longer fired up by Big Sam’s (and our) vision of the future.
I may be being unfair to a man who has to look after his personal interests as well as those of Sunderland AFC and I certainly don’t want to see us do a Blackpool, Portsmouth, Leeds or Coventry City but I detect the influence of an owner determined to show just who really runs the show – a stance that could see us go from a position of strength to relegation fodder again. I thought a few weeks ago that he had learned through past mistakes but the overwhelming feeling I have now is that he hasn’t.
We could have predicted that England wouldn’t do well in the Euros. We could have predicted that Hodgson would be out of a job by the start of the month. I’m not sure that we could have predicted just how many people would lobby for Sam Allardyce to become his replacement. It seemed Sam’s time had come and gone when the FA didn’t have the facilities to watch his Power Point presentation but now it appears that not only is he becoming the bookies’ favourite but also that the club he currently manages is doing its best to alienate him. Only a week ago I was hopeful that even if he was offered the England job he would turn it down. I saw a man on a mission who envisaged great things on Wearside. Now I detect a man frustrated by a club which seems not to be 100% behind him.
I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and like most people my gut reaction comes from what I see myself and what is reported in the media but Big Sam’s return from Austria has me worried. The failure to sign Davide Santon at the last minute has me worried. The apparent lack of progress with both Yann M’Vila and DeAndre Yedlin has me worried.
When Allardyce was appointed he brought one man with him – Mark Taylor. Taylor was (we are led to believe) the man who brought about the Kirchhoff, Kone and Khazri deals. A man who was to be dismissed by the club just weeks later. But now with a new chief executive at the helm (and to be fair less than two weeks into his new post) it would not be unreasonable to suggest that Big Sam must be fuming with the lack of activity in the transfer market. A few years back when Quinny was chairman and doing the rounds of Supporters’ Clubs he talked about the games that agents and clubs played in an attempt to best serve their own interests when trying to sign and sell players, but our current manager must be frustrated by the club’s apparent inability to strengthen his squad with sufficient time to get them all working his way. The first pre-season friendly is just a week and a day off.
So how significant is his return from Austria and why is he back? Could it be that as I type, he is at the club thrashing out a new contract and holding high level discussions with top transfer targets or is he taking the opportunity whilst in the country, to check the powers that be at the Football Association have got a laptop and an overhead projector?
If it’s the former then I think we can still look forward to the new season with anticipation. If it’s the latter then I fear the worst.
Bravo George Caulkin, self-described ‘chronicler of misery for The Times (North East football, mainly)’, for that clever piece of gallows humour tweeting. And now over to Pete Sixsmith, our own chronicler of doom punctuated by the odd shaft of light. Watching England was indeed like watching Sunderland for the first 30 games of most seasons. Sixer rises from his sick bed after a week of pain and discomfort to carry out his own Ofsted inspection ..
Monsieur Salut writes: Pete Sixsmith makes 10 points from the opening sequence of the Euros but I seem to have reduced them to seven. I began yesterday in a rage against the moronic English ‘fans’ who, as I have witnessed at first hand, are as obnoxious a group of people as you’d hope not to meet. But if they – and of course I mean the sizeable minority of trouble-seeking louts – had already behaved atrociously in one of my favourite French cities, Marseille, their lowlife thuggishness was more than matched by an evil bunch of Russians, in particular, and by some French ‘fans’.
Pete fears there will be trouble wherever England play, even when the English are not wholly or even mostly to blame. As for the football, disappointment for England, a dark start for a man with SAFC pedigree – Lorik Cana, who must have even Lee Cattermole tit-tutting – not to mention another red, albeit away from the Euros in the Copa America) DeAndre Yedlin – and a great opener for Wales. Now let Sixer admire French stadiums and French midfielders …
A little while ago, back in February as it happens, we published the view of an outsider, Mark Smith, a freelance sports writer based in Prague, that Roy Hodgson should take Jermain Defoe to the Euros. The case got stronger, of course, but the deafness afflicting Hodgson got worse, too. It’s heartening when neutrals see things the way we do, too, but in a partisan way. Here, another writer, Darren Moore, a freelancer based closer to home (Scotland) laments Defoe’s utterly predictable exclusion from the squad and suggests England may suffer as a result …
Roy Hodgson has probably worked out where Sunderland is on the map but not clearly enough to make him select an in-form striker, who grabbed an astonishing tally of 15 Premier League goals despite playing for a team that spent most of the season in the bottom three.
So no room for Jermain Defoe at the Euros 2016 in France. Roy did include in his provisional squad a well-known Championship player, Andros Townsend, and a man who doesn’t quite match Jermain’s standards of clean living, Jack Wilshere.
And SAFC fans who turn out at the Stadium of Light on Friday may well see Jordan Henderson, long lost to us as a player but still a fan, in the England friendly vs Australia. Since Roy’s a linguist, this link helping him find our ground is in French.
When the question was first raised, Monsieur Salut’s instinctive response was along the lines of ‘Hodgson doesn’t really know where Sunderland is, so is unlikely to see Jermain Defoe play unless we’re away to and being beaten soundly by a London side containing one or more of his favourites’. But the questioner persisted with the result that we have now a guest article, from Mark Smith, a sports writer based in Prague, weighing up the pros and cons of Defoe’s case for an England recall …