Wrinkly Pete aka Peter Lynn has been delving into his record collection again to provide the inspiration for his end of term report, the fourth in our series looking back at the season just ended. After Dick Advocaat announced his departure Ellis Short must have thought “what kind of fool am I and who can I turn to?” Big Sam has shown what he can do and perhaps thinking “as long as he needs me” can persuade the owner to be a big spender with no regrets. Peter wants us to reach for the stars and get the party started believing Sam brings us something, so now rather than thinking “it’s impossible” we members of the in crowd can speculate that the impossible dream is achievable after all.
“The Party’s Over”.
So sang Shirley Bassey on her album The Fabulous Shirley Bassey in 1959. I know, you are thinking I’ve lost the plot and what has this got to do with a review of our 2015/16 season? Bear with me.
Well, the season’s review won’t take too long as it has been pretty much a repeat of what has happened to us since season 2011/12 when we finished a fairly comfortable 13th. We have spent the entire season in a relegation position, except for one week in November after our home win against 10-men Stoke, one week in March after draws at home to Crystal Palace and away to Southampton, one week in April after our home draw against Arsenal and most importantly the final eight days of the current campaign.
Now I will be the first to say that I have enjoyed the roller coaster ride over the past two months when I have been lucky enough to be present at most of the games but how did we get into this mess having vowed at the end of each of the previous three seasons that it must never happen again?
Personally I think the pursuit of Big Dick “It seemed to be right, just being with him” to persuade him to return as manager when he had left us was a mistake. However, I am more inclined to blame the players some of whom (now thankfully gone) looked disinterested and some of whom were/are not of the required standard.
How we got out of the mess is probably more important as I believe it shows the way we must go to try to get out of the cycle we are in, otherwise “The piper must be paid”.
Basically, apart from Jermain Defoe’s goals, without which we would have been relegated anyway, we have a manager whose first public words on his appointment stressed how vital to the community our presence in the Premier League was. He quickly assessed the players he had inherited and decided we had too much deadwood which he has started to clear out. He then identified that improvement was required in the core of the side.
Hence the three K’s acquisition – Kone in defence, Kirchhoff in midfield and Khazri in attack. Those three, I believe have saved us. Not on their own, of course, but they have lifted others by their ability and attitude so that the level of the team has improved markedly since their January arrival. So much so that by the Everton home game we were safe. “You danced and dreamed through the night” – in my case right up to the moment I arrived back at my Birmingham home at 3am!
I was there at the party at Watford, albeit through necessity amongst the Watford supporters and thoroughly enjoyed viewing our magnificent supporters’ “Yellow Submarine” rendition of “Staying Up, Going Down”. However, “Now you must wake up, All dreams must end” we should now look ahead.
We must keep Big Sam.
He has proven, not just with us but throughout his managerial career, that he can find and recruit good players. Hopefully, by freeing up some money as he moves out some more deadwood and getting the backing from Ellis Short, we can improve the squad to compete properly at this level.
He has shown that he can get the very best out of players, not least by getting them fitter and by personal coaching, especially defenders. He recognises the value of our support, particularly at home games, where the commitment and noise, most notably at the Chelsea and Everton fixtures, were as good as I can remember at the Stadium of Light.
Regarding our support, now that the Mags are down, can we please move on from chants about Alan Shearer and Steven Taylor and sing songs about our own players instead?
We the fans can help. We need to aim higher as supporters and take our club forward. The kindness and passion of Sunderland folk is something I have mostly admired from afar due to circumstance but have inherited through birthright. If we can harness that character within our football club we may never have to hear “The candles flicker and dim”.