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Why do some SAFC fans leave early? Well, they've got good reason to; & not being content with 'safety'

In our last two games against Everton and Man City I can't say that our players didn't try because I honestly believe they did - they just weren't good enough. Nevertheless, the atmosphere against City was flat after going 2-0 down which resulted in some fans leaving early. This, once again, has been noticed by the wider media and community of football fans and I feel like I need to say something about it.

It really angers me when pundits like Jermaine Jenas and Gary Lineker have a dig at Sunderland fans, who have PAID MONEY to endure pathetic displays on a regular basis, for leaving early when we've capitulated at home to the likes of Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Norwich, Stoke and Southampton.

The reason that many Sunderland fans left early is not because we lost to Manchester City. We were realistic. We didn't expect to get anything. If anything, we expected to lose by a bigger score line than two-nil. The reason that people left is because we've seen flat performances so many times at home and, coupled with how testing this season has been, people are just fed up.

We're fed up of bottling winnable fixtures. We're fed up of seeing team give up almost every time they go behind. We're fed up of poor, and quite often, gutless 'performances'. We're fed up of being in relegation battles and despite constantly spending money to watch the lads, we're fed up of never seeing any improvement season after season.

While we may not spend anywhere near as much as Arsenal fans will, it's still not cheap to pay for a season card at the Stadium of Light, even more so when we've had nothing to shout about for five years now. The club have recently announced the freeze of season ticket prices for next season and that's good but given our severe lack of success I feel it should be cheaper. Take away the cup final run and our six wins against Newcastle (which in itself is only six league games in 179) - what have we done in that time?

Stayed up every year? Great.

Just avoiding relegation is not success for Sunderland. It's underachieving. In a world where Leicester have won the Premier League and Burnley & Bournemouth have outperformed and overtaken us, I feel we should be where Stoke & Southampton are on a regular basis. After 10 years in the Premier League, with the stadium and fanbase we have, I feel that's fair.

'We need to be in the Premier League because of the financial implications of relegation' seems to be a common argument for needing to be in the top flight.

To an extent, I get that. Obviously our best chance of attracting quality is for Sunderland to be in the Premier League. The TV money speaks for itself and that alone could help us to wipe out the debt.

Bit purely as a Sunderland fan, I don't enjoy it and, quite frankly, I haven't done for years now.

I asked myself the other day why would I want us stay up. Forget finances for a moment. There's only one reason as a fan I want to survive and that is Jermain Defoe. While he seems to 'get' the club and I pray that I'm wrong, I believe that there is no way he will stay in the Championship. We wouldn't be able to afford his wages and he's simply way too good for that league regardless of his age. If we go down and he stays, he deserves a bronze statue outside the Stadium of Light.

In the event we perform the biggest miracle of all time and avoid the drop, what will happen next season? Chances are the same thing again, if not worse.

If we are to be in the top flight purely to stay in it and never progress, then I'm not sure I want to be there at all.

George Caulkin once asked: 'how is losing to, West Brom, Stoke and Middlesbrough better than beating Brentford, Burton and Derby?'

Of course I want Sunderland to be successful in the Premier League but that doesn't look like happening any time soon.

For me, the Championship provides something different and while it's not where I want us to be long-term, I'd take a couple of seasons down in that division so long as we sort ourselves out financially and manage things properly so that if we do come back up, we'd be in better shape and ready to actually compete in the top flight.

Of course there's still a chance we could stay up but we MUST beat Burnley. If we don't, then I'll be seriously planning for what could be some cracking away days next season.

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