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Sunderlandisms - looking at recent criticism of the club by ex-Premier League players

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Moderate knowledge of football, a vocalised opinion and the concept of profanity are all it takes for anyone to have a swipe at Sunderland these days.

Sunderland v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The perpetual calamity of Sunderland Association Football Club is an easy talking point for many a pundit - after all, it doesn't take much analytic brain power to reach the conclusion that we're a total mess.

Still, it evokes a certain curiosity to pick through and see exactly how many different ways we're considered to be awful by pundits and ex-players that are from outside of the Sunderland bubble.

Sunderland are an easy target for criticism in soundbites, particularly from people that don't really understand what it has been like to support this club in recent years. And whilst in some cases what the pundits tell us is right, they quite often miss the point or forget that - despite our issues - we've been in this position many times before yet have ultimately came out of the other end as a survivor.

Has the critique of our club in recent weeks from sections of the punditry pack been harsh, or fair?


The fact Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson were not getting games for Everton is not good — and they could not get a deal for Leicester's Leonardo Ulloa over the line. I feel for Moyes but Sunderland do not have the strength in depth to stay up.

- Chris Sutton, The Daily Mail

Rent-a-gob former England international forward Chris Sutton flagged up apprehension that was shared by many a Sunderland fan when Bryan Oviedo and Darron Gibson were first announced as signings in the January transfer window.

The signings themselves aren't exactly considered terrible, but if you want to take from the reserves of a Premier League side, it's a lot less reassuring if that side aren't at least challenging for the title - at least on the face of it or from the outside, anyways.

Coca Cola League Two: Northampton Town v Lincoln City Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Ian Wright publicly mocked Sunderland for shifting on van Aanholt in January on his Sun Goals Podcast a few weeks ago when our very own Gav was a guest on the show - to an outsider like Wright or even Sutton, Sunderland lost a player that scores them goals every now and then, but to the majority of Sunderland fans it has been seen as a reasonable deal because, ultimately, van Aanholt is a poor defender and we've managed to replace him for a fraction of what it cost Crystal Palace to buy him from us.

It's early days but Bryan Oviedo looks an improvement on the Dutchman's mercurial approach to defending, whilst Gibson looks competent in the center of the park and will surely show us even more once his match fitness has improved, so it's perhaps a bit narrow-minded to dismiss the two simply because they make us look like 'Everton's B-Team'.

Securing a marquee signing would've probably made us - and the likes of Sutton - feel better about the whole situation, though.


David Moyes’ scouting and player profile horizons are very narrow.

- Stan Collymore, Twitter

This tweet from Stan Collymore gives rise to a question we've asked from day one - can David Moyes actually improve us with the signings that he makes?

Newcastle United v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The majority of the acquisitions that we've made under the former Manchester United manager's tenure thus far have been those not quite good enough for a better team, or that are simply too old. Moyes stuck primarily to sources he was familiar with, but with our limited funds it was never going to reap the rewards needed.

We have no idea whether or not Moyes would have still targeted players that he was familiar with even if he had more funds and wages to play around with, but what we can probably suppose is that had the restrictions on spending not been as fierce, we certainly wouldn't have brought in Joleon Lescott from the cold.

Ultimately, the direction of Sunderland's transfer business in the window gone was largely dictated by the small amount that we had to spend on wages - and when you've got a very slim amount of available players to choose from, it must be daunting not knowing what you are going to get for your money.


I look at Sunderland and think, if you take Defoe out of that, it's a bang average Championship team.

- Steven Gerrard, BT Sport: Premier League Tonight Show

The evergreen Jermain Defoe is our only consistently fit striker, and our only current player to have netted more than three goals this season. There's really not much room for debate on this one - we wouldn't amount to an awful lot without him.

Liverpool v Wolverhampton Wanderers - The Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

That said, Gerrard's comments still sting a little. Imagine if you took Gylfi Sigurdsson out of Swansea's team this season? How many points would Hull have right now if they didn't have Robert Snodgrass in the opening months of the campaign?

It's a moot point really. You take the best player out of most teams in this league and they'd struggle, without a doubt. Gerrard was talking about us after our shambolic display against Southampton at the weekend, so you won't find many people that will argue with his viewpoint. Was he saying the same things the week prior though, when an unbelievable team performance saw us steamroll Crystal Palace?

We all know that Sunderland are a poor side - we're bottom of the league for a reason - but Gerrard's comments about Sunderland's starting eleven last Saturday aren't particularly fair, really. Adnan Januzaj, Lamine Kone, Didier Ndong, Bryan Oviedo, Jason Denayer and Darron Gibson are all Premier League players - they just don't perhaps, as a group and with poorer players like Sebastian Larsson, Billy Jones and Vito Mannone around them - have the level of consistency that they should have.


He is managing a club that is almost unmanageable.

- Jamie Carragher, The Daily Mail

To say that a club is nearly unmanageable is to make a very bold claim. Where, exactly, do we draw the line at 'unmanageable'? Is the training ground on fire? Are there sharks in the aquatic centre?

Sam Allardyce was perfectly capable last season of taking an under-performing squad and adding rogue talent to it, combining the boost that new players bring with a renewed training plan and playing identity. Even when we looked doomed in mid-January, a way was found to turn our fortunes around.

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Conceivably Moyes could've done the same, but since he hasn't done so as yet, the essence of the club itself is apparently to blame.

Quite clearly a whole host of issues in various different areas of the club are causing us to gravitate towards the Championship, but ultimately it comes down to the players and the manager to get results - and it was less than a year ago that we saw Sam Allardyce bring together his squad in a way which allowed them to secure the amount of points that we needed to tow the line and survive yet again.

It's proof that regardless of the multiple issues that we have, good management and correct implementation of training practice and methods can achieve results, regardless of how badly ran a club is. If it has been shown to be possible that our fortunes can be turned around, does that allegation even make sense?