Wise Men Say: It's The Hope You Can't Stand? What Hope?

Laurence Griffiths

Who's keeping the faith? Getting bloody hard, isn't it? Some serious questions need to be asked following a disastrous result on Monday night. Let the inquest begin!

Was Wembley really only a month ago?

Let's get one thing straight from the off - I'm of the opinion that Poyet got his tactics horribly wrong on Monday night. I have my reasons and will go through them all on this week's pod when challenged on it. I'll just say that the improvement after we removed a redundant defender was there for all to see. That's my criticism of the manager out the way.

Anyway, about those players, eh?

Yeah, yeah we had more chances than the opposition and seem to be unable to catch a break. But you know what? That's what happens to sides who get relegated. Always half decent but just lacking in fire power, always on the wrong side of lady luck's flying visit. The almighty issue I have with the idea that Monday night was acceptable is that any side who play West Ham at home probably get at least three chance a game too. This is not an achievement!

And the theory that the players can't play in front of a nervy crowd? Grow a pair. If you take to the field needing a crowd to lift you to a level in which you become capable of winning a game at home to one of Norwich, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace or West Ham then you don't belong in the Premier League.

If you're scared to drive forward with the ball or you wait for Adam Johnson to do something for you against a bang average Premier League side then you don't belong in the Premier League.

I'm not having hard luck stories as justification for dross anymore. Boo hoo, Eight home league wins in thirty-eight home games. That's 8. EIGHT. It doesn't matter which way I write it, does it? Two years of people's lives spent drudging over to the stadium just hoping for routine win against a lower Premier league side. And rarely getting it.

I'm fully aware that it's primarily an ability issue (that phrase again) but when you see Cardiff, West Brom and Crystal Palace show real balls and express positivity it makes you question where some of our players are at mentally. I'd love to ask the ones out of contract this summer if they care. Do you care one bit about the fans who have you represent their hopes and dreams? Do you? Honestly? Phil Bardsley, perhaps.

Forget about last night's game, this has been coming like a slow and nasty disease for the last three years. Seb Larsson tries though, he really does. I keep hearing he does, anyway. Do you Seb? Do you? Cos I remember you putting in awe inspiring crosses in your first six months here and I remember you scoring free kicks. We kept hearing about you practising tirelessly on the training ground. Do you not bother now? Is it not important to take responsibility or improve your game at Sunderland?

Did Craig Gardner actually ask Steve Bruce where he'd fit into his midfield? Did he read Bruce say Bolo Zenden could leave because he wasn't good enough for a midfield pair and not think about what that meant for him? Did you ever think "hold on, I play in a three man midfield", Craig? Did you? Actually scrap that, we play that system now and it's still not working.

When John O'Shea and Wes Brown retire will people remember them as Champions League winners at Manchester United or will they remember them defending like half-cut Sunday league footballers at Carrow Road? It will likely be the former, luckily for you lads. I wonder if will you even mention your days at Sunderland when you retire this summer? You will retire when we're relegated, right?

Do any of you players care anymore? Gus resorted to implying our demise is simply "the Sunderland way" last week, so does that make the cause not worth fighting for? You chose us a club, remember, we didn't choose you. For whatever reasons you signed for the club, YOU made that decision. Are you willing to fight for the cause until the end? Or are you hiding behind the fact that you'll leave should we go down?

After all, it's the name 'Sunderland A.F.C' that people will associate with yet another failure, not your individual ones. Are you hiding behind that? If you are then you're all cowards. For that reason, I hope it IS an ability issue and you're just simply not good enough. Similarly, I'm starting to feel glad you lost at Hull in the cup now. Nasty Sheffield United would have defended in numbers and put set pieces into the box. And they'd have breached you, oh they'd have breached you alright.

So where are we with that hope, Sunderland fans? Despite the tactical horror show on Monday night, I'm personally still happy with Gus Poyet to lead us forward. He's still learning, changes games with substitutions and, most importantly, he doesn't wing it. If we leave him alone and give him time, I'm sure he'll deliver eventually, And, boy, I can't wait to get shot of some of these players.

Oh, listen to the podcast by the way, almost forgot about that. We're joined by Kristan Heneage in the studio and former player Darren Williams on the phone.

Subscribe on iTunes or listen on here from tomorrow evening.

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