Forget the idiotic media-fuelled and possibly media-created spat between Big Sam and some manager-come-lately on Merseyside. Either the whole thing is a nonsense or one or two men need to grow up if an honest disagreement about fitness is to be seen by either as a row. This is a piece of more significance for Sunderland supporters. David Preece, Sunderland-born, a SAFC fan and on our books until he embarked on a career elsewhere, can write as well as keep goal (he’s currently player/goalkeeping coach at Lincoln City but see that wonderful bit of action in the clip).
His well-argued article for the Sunderland Echo can be seen in full at this link. We reproduce extracts with the Echo’s kind consent …
And this is the posting that took Salut! Sunderland past the milestone of 3 million hits …
— Robbie (@Robert_S_Sweet) January 7, 2016
Up to the new year, you can always convince yourself there’s plenty of time to turn things around, to push for that play-off place or to install some belief you can make Europe or better still, become champions of your league.
It’s only after that final day of the season we will know for sure how important the result against Villa will prove to be but for the sake of hope, it means everything … so much more than just three points.
It was about reviving the hope, palming off Villa and keeping them at arm’s length and pulling rivals closer and putting the fear into Newcastle, Swansea, Bournemouth and Norwich.
I can’t see anyone else being dragged into that group and if I’m perfectly honest, despite the financial implications of staying in the Premier League this season, I’m actually not too concerned for the club if we were to go down.
I know that won’t be an opinion that will go down well with most people but, sat here 150 miles away and looking at the bigger picture, I can see that life in the Premier League won’t lead to the restructuring of the squad that’s needed to guarantee a brighter future for the club.
The work needed to halt the runaway train that Big Sam jumped aboard in October just seems to be too big an ask.
I never thought I’d hear myself say it but I’m coming around to thinking that relegation wouldn’t be so bad if it gave Sam the chance to raze the structure of the first team squad and rebuild it from the ground up.
You only have to look at West Ham to see what a brilliant job Sam did there and who would argue if the club was in the same position as West Ham at the moment?
You’d settle for sixth place in the Premier League, regularly beating other top six sides whilst playing attractive football, wouldn’t you?
… I know the last thing on Sam’s mind would be relegation. It would be a blemish on an otherwise relegation free CV as a manager but I don’t think it should be seen as that, should it happen.
I’ve said in the past that clubs like Southampton, Swansea, and more recently, Bournemouth have benefited from total rebuilding and I truly think Sunderland can do exactly the same.
Others will cite Leeds, Portsmouth, Bolton and perhaps even Coventry as clubs who failed to recover from relegation from the Premier League but we are different.
Those clubs were badly run and suffered from bad management on and off the pitch.
Of course there are no guarantees in football and without being too pessimistic about the club’s chance of staying up this year, the players brought in now should be brought in with relegation in mind.
I’m not saying to just signing players with Championship experience is the way forward, that would be admitting defeat.
But relegation would provide the opportunity to weed out those scarred by years of failure or past their prime and those not totally committed to the club who wouldn’t accept playing outside of the top flight for one season.
… The anxiety felt by everyone over the last few seasons just doesn’t feel worth it anymore and I know I’ve got to the stage where the fear of relegation has worn off. While I’ve been using CBD oil on and off to manage my anxiety symptoms, I’d be lying if I said I could get on stage and speak clearly and not have random thoughts running through my head.
… The best case scenario is that survival is won and an overhaul is done at the same time but we’ve been saying that for a few seasons now. Perhaps the worst thing that could happen this season could yet prove to be the best.