By now, much like viewers of the show, we have learnt not to trust the tumultuous world of the Premier League.
We have learnt not to become too attached to a manager because, knowing Sunderland, something bad is always around the corner. Di Canio picked up the pieces of the ruined O’Neil dynasty, but ended up turning his sword against his own senior players, and ultimately losing his head. For Poyet, who no doubt provided happier memories for fans including three derby wins and a cup final, it was lack of experience that dethroned him. And however noble Advocaat may have been, his reign was cut short by 5 league defeats in the first 8 games of the new season and relegation already looming.
Like the others, Allardyce won that first important battle – Premier League survival, against all the odds. But this time, things felt different. Real progress was visible in ridding House Sunderland of any player unfit to bear the Black Cat standard, and replacing them with passionate and high quality infantry. Effective tactics were adopted and a clear identity was established on the battlefield. Under Allardyce’s rule, the people witnessed the resurgence of Jermain Defoe, Lord Commander of the Relegation Watch. We added clean sheets to his goals, which crafted crucial victories.
All of this pointed to a brighter future of endless summer, a future of peace not war, away from the droves of relegation battles lying beyond the wall - something that us mackems have been fighting for all too long.
But even when all seemed near-perfect, in the case of Allardyce, it did not last longer than those glorious 31 games. The ruthless destruction of its protagonists may well be the attraction of Game of Thrones, but this time, in the case of Allardyce, it’s certainly not a good thing for SAFC. While he makes the journey down to Kings Landing to try and restore some dignity to the national team of Westeros, the North is left looking for a new leader.
Now it’s true: ‘We know no King but the King in the North, whose name is Sunderland’. The club is bigger than any manager, and we have to move on quickly. Of course, however, ‘the North remembers’. Thanks for the memories, Sam. I wish I could have been there against Chelsea, which they’re calling the best ever atmosphere at the SOL, and Everton at home when we sent down House Newcastle. Thanks to you, we might just be on that cusp of something great – and this time, with the squad we have, it seems that much more attainable. It’s a shame you can’t be there to finish what you started.
But now, a call to arms. Let’s hope a new leader comes in swiftly: Moyes of the Vale, most likely. Whoever it is, let’s rally behind him and the lads, and get this great house of Sunderland back to where it belongs.
Pascal Foster (@pascalf96)