I fully expect this piece to go down as well as a Mick McCarthy Premier League side with some but I am going to carry on regardless. It is the English thing to do.
We, as a nation, have always been trailblazers and been proud to die trying. I am thankful that an American, Ellis Short, and Paolo Di Canio’s band of Italians are now sweeping through Sunderland reminding us all of what we used to be and still should be like.
I have read with despair some of the comments and reactions to the mass changes that are being attempted at SAFC. What has happened to these people? Has the part of their brain that handles excitement been totally turned off? Have the years and years of utter dross made them scared of and immune to trying something different?
Let’s be honest, there was only one way that we were going if we carried on with same old method and players that we have done for the last few seasons.
How can any fan that has watched Sunderland play over the last 3 campaigns be happy to continue along a similar path? Or how can they be so averse to changing it completely?
It was rubbish. Absolute, 100% rubbish.
O’Neill tried to inject a bit of quality last summer with Johnson and Fletcher but it was just not enough. With very few exceptions the rest of the playing squad are so bereft of any real quality that we should be suing them under the Trade Descriptions Act as they certainly are not what I class as footballers.
Now things are getting turned on their heads we hear things like:-
"Oh, but too many foreigners might not gel."
"You can’t make so many changes in one summer."
"They don’t have enough Premier League experience."
According to whom?
In football you get so many lines trotted out that just don’t mean anything. The media, TV especially, is full of so called experts that I am amazed can even dress themselves let alone comment on what is going on in football. I would be dubious if Iain Dowie or Paul Merson told me that their farts stink. But, remarkably, people swallow everything they say. Remember, you can never win anything with kids.
Gary Neville is probably the best pundit going at the minute and you will be hard pressed to find him peddling some of these one-liners that people are more than happy to wheel out. Coincidence? Nope.
Foreigners might not gel? Well, our attempt at gelling British and Irish stalwarts has been a marvellous success. That Arsenal team, the ’Invincibles’ was packed to the rafters with those native to our little Island (that’s sarcasm – it had 2)… The fact is that it does not make a blind bit of difference. It’s down to the manager to gel the players regardless of them being born in Seaton Carew or Mogadishu.
The point about not making too many changes in one summer is the one that really astounds me. Where is the proof? Where is the evidence? I accept that it is not ideal. It is not something that you should aim to be doing every summer.
But, in our situation it is the bare minimum. If there was a straw poll the end of the season that asked our fans how many players that they would definitely keep and were without doubt good enough to be in our starting XI to take us forward then you would probably get back 4 or 5 recurring names. Mignolet, Johnson, Sessegnon and Fletcher would be on the majority of lists whilst Cattermole and O’Shea might creep onto maybe half of the lists.
Does that not tell people everything that they need to know about our team and squad? You cannot make too many changes at once? Open your eyes, take off the blinkers, we HAVE to make so many changes.
Does Premier League experience really matter? Gardner had it. Larsson had it. Vaughan had it. Graham had it. Cuellar had it. They are all pretty much hopeless. Yes, the Premier League is faster than other leagues but if the player is good enough then they will adapt and adapt quickly. It’s just a line often used that means nothing. Get your scouting, training and management right and there is no issue. Look at Swansea – Michu and De Guzman had a right mare trying to adapt, didn't they?
So, when did so many of us become so wet? So un-English? We should be proud of and excited by what the club is doing. No longer limping along towards another relegation, we are ripping up the blueprint and trying to do something proactive.
It may well go horribly tits up but that’s the point. Captain Scott is famous for going to the Antarctic and dying on the way back rather than just sitting on the River Taff for a few years waiting to sink because of a continuous leak.
We should be happy about whatever the end result is because we done it our way and by trying to better ourselves. Sod plodding along and being happy just to exist – that’s not me, that’s not the Sunderland I want and that’s not English. If we are going to die then let it be by our own sword and in the knowledge that we had a right bloody good go at bettering ourselves.
I'm not advocating that we do a Leeds or Portsmouth but we can do something to drastically change our fortunes and outlook. By being smart, by scouting correctly, by selling players at the right time (see Mignolet - he had no intention of signing a new deal so we got shot at his maximum value) then we can transform the team and the club.
Embrace what Short, Di Canio and co are doing. Enjoy it, get excited by it, back them and be proud.