While Len Shackleton’s assessment of “what the average director knows about football” may be even truer now than it was in the ’50s, Jeremy Robson is grateful to have our owner on board.
Like many other fans, I am feeling quite dizzy after the whirlwind start to Magic Martin’s start at the SoL. Amidst the hoopla associated with the exciting wins at the death over Blackburn, QPR and Man. City and the stunning goal feast at Wigan it’s easy to forget the main man who is ultimately responsible for our sudden renaissance. That man is our Chairman and owner Mr Ellis Short.
Ellis Short is not a man to seek the limelight like owners of many clubs. He gets on with running the club in the same way that he has run his various enterprises so successfully that he’s a billionaire. He is not a man who fails, and he’s demonstrated with the appointment of our current manager that he recognises the requirements to make this club as successful as his other ventures.
There’s little doubt that the previous chairman Niall Quinn was a keen advocate for Martin O”Neill having tried unsuccessfully to lure the Irishman to Wearside on at least one previous occasion. A successful man like Mr Short knows that there is a time and a place for everything. There was time to question the management of Roy Keane when things were going wrong. Roy didn’t seem to like having to be accountable and took a walk.
Steve Bruce’s appointment was probably the right one at the time it was made as he brought Premier League management experience to the training ground and dug out. Managing a club the size of Sunderland was clearly a step too far for Bruce, even though his very good eye for a player was let down by tactical naivete, combined with an inability to get the best out of the resources at his disposal. Niall Quinn was a loyal supporter of Bruce, and Ellis Short depended on his Chairman for football advice. Quinn’s visible loyalty to Bruce superseded his judgment and regardless of what the PR machine might have to say to the contrary, there are probably few observers of SAFC related matters who would see Quinn’s departure and the subsequent sacking of Steve Bruce as unrelated. Would Steve Bruce still be at the helm were Quinn still the Sunderland Chairman? We may never know the answer to that question of course. At the same time, would we have been able to bring in Martin O’Neill as his successor. Despite the admiration and affection that I have for Niall Quinn, and the immense gratitude that he rightfully warrants from the Sunderland faithful, I would suggest that the answer would be an emphatic “No.” We live in times where irresponsibility of football club owners seems to be at an unprecedented high.
We are very fortunate to have such a talented and intelligent business man as our owner. Ellis Short didn’t make his fortune selling trainers on a market stall, or from chicken farming. He made his fortune in the tough financial world, where judgement and timing are of the essence, and has brought those qualities to his stewardship of Sunderland Football Club. We owe a big thank you to Martin O”Neill for his wonderful start, which has put a smile on our faces, but thank you Ellis with all my heart for bringing Martin O’Neill to us.