Captain's Blog: Once More Unto The Breach, Dear Friends...

Scott Heavey

Sunderland kick of yet another new era this weekend. It's all so crushingly familiar.

If Albert Einstein was right and insanity can best be described as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then Sunderland must be bordering on the certifiable right now.

At some point in the not-too-distant past, the club seemed to halt its quest for any semblance of progression and just locked itself in a cycle that almost bears the hallmarks of self-harm. The desperation, the action, the temporary relief, the illusion that the path to recovery has been discovered, the slow descent back towards desperation...

The cycles have been of varying size, but almost as far back as Roy Keane's appointment the narrative has been the same.

This weekend at Swansea - ironically a club who have become synonymous with the kind of continuity that has eluded Sunderland - the cycle starts again. Another new manager, another new era, another new touchline incumbent of what looks more and more like an impossible job with each passing appointment.

It isn't that the club doesn't crave stability. I know for a fact that they do. The very presence of a separate team to handle player recruitment headed up by Roberto De Fanti is testament to that. Though their remit last summer was focused on the immediate requirements of the squad, it is the long-term health of the club that drives their purpose.

Despite calls for that system to come under early scrutiny, with some sections of the media declaring it a failure already and demanding De Fanti be paraded before the press to explain himself, my own feeling is that even more words are the very last thing that the club needs right now.

In fact, I am sick to the back teeth of the words that Sunderland are obliged to offer the press, never mind any on top of that. There are only so many times you can hear Craig Gardner telling us how brilliant everything is before even his superhuman levels of positivity provokes passivity. There are only so many motions you can see people going through before you begin to openly resent them for wasting everyone's time.

And time is very much at the heart of the Sunderland conundrum. Like an eighteenth-century tall ship trapped in the windless wilderness of the mid-Atlantic doldrums, the one thing that is needed to power away from danger and to a more prosperous region is the one thing they don't have.

When you find yourself marooned in a state of perpetuation panic stations, time is simply the luxury you don't have. The survival instinct has kicked in and is too strong.

The situation is worrying and precarious but it is far from hopeless at this point. I maintain that there is sufficient quality in the side to see the club to safety with relative ease. A new-manager bounce and parity at least will likely be restored with the rest of the pack before a chance of a strong second half of the season, particularly at home.

Whatever happens though, I'm just sick of the cycle. With the plethora of commercial partners and sponsors in place now, I can understand the overriding imperative to protect the club's association with the Premier League.

But as a fan, I'm tired. Tired of the constant change, the constant struggle for identity, the constant cycle of self harm. Above all else, regardless of the club's fate this season, this appointment simply has to break that cycle because with every one of its revolutions you can almost feel another piece of the club's soul slipping away.

In the meantime, we'll just do what we always do: muster what hope and belief we can steel ourselves to commit and try again. Sunderland are, if nothing else, genuine triers at heart.

So once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage. It's about the only thing we have ever truly had the chance to get good at.

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