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NewsWipe: Scotland Links Are Unhelpful, But Is Moyes Right To Be 'Unhappy' At Sunderland?

In today's newswipe special edition - a fresh round of 'Sunderland manager linked with international job' gossip. But, if David Moyes is indeed 'unhappy' at Sunderland, does he have good reason? Here's the case for the prosecution.

AFC Bournemouth v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Scotland, Bonny Scotland

Scottish football - in decline; but has it reached its lowest ebb? Or has it a way to go yet before a state of emergency is declared north of the border?

With World Cup qualification hopes fading, and a three-goal defeat at the hands of the auld enemy at the weekend, manager Gordon Strachan is facing growing calls to be relieved of his job at the head of the national squad.

And into this mess walks the friendly face of Sunderland AFC. With its newly refreshed status as a breeding ground for home nation managers, current boss David Moyes has emerged as the leading contender to replace the stricken Strachan.

Victory at Bournemouth on Bonfire Night eased the 'Moyes Out' chatter amongst the Sunderland faithful. In fact, three points cut it stone dead - for now. But, it feels like it may never be far away unless Moyes can fathom a decent run of results between now and January.

The Scotland links have been, in true Gaelic style, pretty aggressive this past few days. The Moyes-to-Hampden talk is based on three tenets. First, he's Scottish - which helps. Second, he said a few weeks ago that he would fancy being national team manager one day; and third, he's on thin ice at Sunderland and moreover, he's said to be 'unhappy' here.

Unhappy? Now there's a big word. In fact, it neatly flips the whole "Is Moyes the right man for Sunderland?" debate on its head. Suddenly, it's "is Sunderland the right job for Moyes?"

That is a whole new angle.

Notwithstanding the errors the 53-year old has clearly made in his four months at the Stadium of Light - think mediocre-to-rank transfer dealings, launching himself on us with a negativity from seemingly out of nowhere, and some tactical ineptitude - is there a basis for his unease in the Sunderland job? Does David Moyes have a point - and is there every reason for him to be secretly seething at the state of the club he was 'sold' in July.

Here's three good reasons why.

1. The Lamine Kone Show Stinks

What it stinks of is up for debate. Greed? Player and agent power? Or a club racked by indecision? Well - all three, as it happens.

The Lamine Kone saga is well documented and needs little re-telling. But, what does need airing is just how disruptive, toxic and divisive the whole charade has been on the football club.

What it does demonstrate are two things. First, the apparent network of treacherous agents Sam Allardyce brought with him to Sunderland and their influence over the club, which only got worse once Big Sam, the Ringmaster, departed.

Second, the naivety and lack of foresight from the establishment at the top of Sunderland AFC.

You see, there are whispers that David Moyes wanted to sell Lamine Kone in the summer, once the player and his agent had played their full repertoire of tricks. But, that Moyes was advised not to by a hierarchy which presumably feared its 'popularity' might take a knock.

There are accounts, close to the source, which recount a tale that at St Marys' Stadium, Southampton on 27th August, four days before the transfer window shut, there ensued a blazing row between the Sunderland manager and Lamine Kone's agent.

So bad did it get, that the player himself was only persuaded to take to the pitch an hour-and-a-half before kick-off.

And since then - the player has wafted between being half-decent and appalling. Awarded a pay rise and a contract extension for his trouble, Lamine Kone has waltzed through numerous Sunderland fixtures as if someone has nicked a fiver off him.

Did the Sunderland hierarchy bottle the Lamine Kone saga and give in to his agent's demands? Did David Moyes want a quick cash-in to buy the striker he allegedly asked Ellis Short for, but was turned down?

2. Losers and Shirkers

There are a handful of players at Sunderland AFC who are neither loser nor shirker. Jermain Defoe, Jordan Pickford, Lee Cattermole, John O'Shea and Seb Larsson to name five. Even Billy Jones and Lynden Gooch. All appear to our untrained eye as possessing exemplary attitudes.

How about Patrick van Aanholt, Adnan Januzaj, Wahbi Khazri and Jack Rodwell? Could any of those players look you in the eye and tell you they've put a consistent shift in this season? Or do some of them have a habit of hiding on occasion?

Only one of them was signed by Moyes - Januzaj - a hugely talented individual who has, admittedly, played but a handful of games.

David Moyes is fully aware of the Jack Rodwell issue, and it extends beyond an apparent curse of 35 games without being on the winning side. By certain accounts, Moyes doesn't know what to do with the boy who once showed so much promise under him at Everton, but Moyes no longer rates the man Rodwell has become.

Moyes has played him because he has little else at his disposal at the centre of midfield. But once Jack Rodwell was out of the side, the stark contrast effected with the man who was brought in, Victor Anichebe, has probably made up the Sunderland manager's mind permanently on that score.

As for the rest, of those names highlighted above - the 'rotten core' at Sunderland probably died with the demise of Gus Poyet's regime. Big Sam stomped on them. But, a raft of injuries and a lack of competition for certain positions in the starting squad has exposed a soft underbelly of weak-minded, weak-willed personnel. With their natural leaders - Lee Cattermole, John O'Shea et al, either ageing or injured, the shirkers and bottlers have been called upon and they have been exposed.

3. No Money In January, Good Night Vienna (Or Glasgow)

There is a strong hint, if you care to look, that Sunderland will have little cash to bring in the quality reinforcements needed to avoid relegation this season. Three, minimum two, exceptional signings in January is the only way that this squad will beat the drop.

Some click-baity sites have claimed Moyes will be handed £20m to launch a survival bid. They are likely putting a finger in the air and taking a guess. After all, that's what Ellis Short authorises each season - £20m to £25m in each transfer window.

It's what Dick Advocaat received in the summer of 2015; it's what Sam Allardyce received in January and it's what David Moyes was given in the window which closed less than three months ago. So history tells us there's a fair chance it will happen again.

But, others closer to the source report a continued dampening of hope emanating from the corridors of power at the Stadium of Light. 'Lower supporter's expectations' seems to be the message. Heck I even wrote about it in the summer, but were you listening, and what does it mean? Well, relegation or a miracle survival I'm afraid, that is the peak of ambition at Sunderland, and it won't be pleasant.

And Now?

The Moyes-away headlines are unhelpful for a fragile Sunderland squad facing their first massive challenge of the season on Saturday against Hull.

Lose and things will turn nasty. Win and the great-escape Mk IV will seem on again.

But, if you were David Moyes - would you not fancy getting out now and making for the border? What were Moyes and Scottish legend Graeme Souness discussing in the stands at Bournemouth? Scotland, in the autumn - Moyes' personal great-escape may yet be on.

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