Ah you really can’t have a go at Martin Bain like, he’s just doing a job.
An excuse thrown around far too often.
It doesn’t matter whether its over a pint or by a water cooler, any discussion of Sunderland’s shortcomings will ultimately lead to a systematic scrutiny that works its way up the chain of command. Once you’ve wound your way up through the PR team, the players and then the coaching staff, you’ll eventually get to those perched at the very top of the High Castle.
And there, lounging on the topmost parapets, is none other than Chief Executive Organiser Martin Bain.
On too many occasions I’ve heard people defend Bain for the job he’s done here - all too often I hear people jump to his defence when the cross-hairs of criticisms line him up. So many people are adamant that our CEO should be absolved of all blame because he’s “just doing a job” - four words which, to many, suffice as a satisfactory justification.
Quite clearly, Bain has been instructed by Short to shore up the club’s books while ensuring that the establishment is kept alive despite this - like some sort of indecisive Grim Reaper.
And that’s where the Bain-defenders come in. They claim that Bain is innocent amid the shambles because he’s just following orders, but the reality of the situation isn’t as clear-cut as it may seem.
Yes, Bain is ‘doing his job’, but there are many ways a job can be carried out - and not every solution is necessarily a good one. There were different ways he could’ve balanced the books, but it so happened that the path he chose to reach his objective was marred with bad decisions.
He sold a first-team fixture in Vito Mannone, just as instructed, but was this the best way to reach that goal? Bain claims this business was done in the name of “efficiency”, but was it really efficient to get £2 million - a pittance in today’s market - for a solid Championship ‘keeper? Was it really efficient to sell this particular asset only to replace it with Robbin Ruiter - who divides opinion - and Jason Steele, who is decidedly awful?
He’s doing a job, yeah, but that doesn’t mean he’s doing it well. If he was an efficient seller he’d have got Khazri, Lens and Djilobodji off our books entirely. God knows, if he was really good, he might’ve even found a home for Gibson or - dare I say it - Rodwell.
There were other, better ways of garnering funds for the club. There were other, better ways of doing the job. As a result, the excuse that Bain’s “just doing a job” doesn’t resonate with me.
Moreover, a lot of people forget the bigger picture. As previously stated, Martin Bain is the club’s Chief Executive Organiser - a job that entails a lot more than just selling up. And the selling aspect of his role which he carried out to an underwhelming standard is God’s work when compared to his shambolic attempt at any other administrative role he’s meant to be able to do.
His co-ordination of events is quite clearly appalling. Think back to the Stadium of Light’s twenty year testimonial held not too long ago. You know, the one where he invited Celtic to be our opponents and then several thousand Glasweigans subsequently laid waste to our city.
It astounds me that Bain didn’t forsee this risk. He spent so many years at Glasgow Rangers, and yet thought it was a good idea to allow five thousand Celtic fans to run amok at what was supposed to be a wholesome family event. That afternoon was a complete shambles - and that’s with the five-nil loss notwithstanding.
The pseudo-tournament was named the ‘Dafabet Cup’, but if that’s the case we may as well have got Blackburn. It would’ve been cathartic to have two sets of fans retire to the pubs afterward to compare stories of their downtrodden clubs.
And let’s not forget Bain’s recruitment strategies - or, rather, his lack thereof.
He couldn’t lure Derek McInnes away from Aberdeen to a club which he could potentially guide to the Premier League. He tried to sell someone the sky and they declined his offer and kept the ceiling - how the hell did he manage to balls that up?
Speculation circulated this week that it was Bain’s intention to follow up David Moyes and Simon Grayson with Ally McCoist - a decision apparently vetoed by Ellis Short himself, according to the rumours. If that is indeed true, it speaks volumes that Short is trying his hardest to distance himself from the club, yet still has to lunge back into the fray to stop Bain from getting his full house on incompetent Scotsman bingo. I’d find it funny if it wasn’t happening to my club.
So aye. Bain doesn’t escape the blame in virtue of “just doing his job” as far as I’m aware. He’s successfully done the bare minimum of one aspect of a job that encompasses many different responsibilities - the rest of which have been miserable failures.
If you see a reason to defend him despite all this, then you’ve seen something I haven’t.