Hey, do you remember the last time you went to Stadium of Light and actually enjoyed a game of football? Do you remember the last time you walked out thinking “yeah, them lads have put a proper shift in today and got the result to match”? I do - it was May 2016.
That spell at the tail end of last season saw us rally from a goal behind twice to beat a strong Chelsea side and then dismantle Everton a couple of days later. The stadium was rocking on both occasions as everyone saw a team they could believe in. One that wouldn’t go into hiding, that would stand up and be counted led by a manager exuding all those qualities. One that instilled confidence and belief into players and one that would hold his hands up sometimes and say “yeah, I got this one wrong”.
Flash forward just over 10 months and Sunderland are a shadow of that. We play in a shell of a stadium riddled with anxiety, desperation and, above all, apathy. The atmosphere at the Stadium of Light has changed so dramatically in that time - once there was excited anticipation, but now there is only grumbling, defeatism and the resignation of what is about to happen, regardless of the opponent.
It is relatable to Homer Simpson’s feelings towards the Springfield Isotopes, when he simply shrugs and yells “hurry up and lose, so we can get out of here”.
This is the overwhelming sentiment surrounding David Moyes’ Sunderland. And it is very much David Moyes’ Sunderland. No matter how much he wants to shirk responsibility, lay the blame on injuries or bad luck, this is his team. Only David Moyes would sign Steven Pienaar, only David Moyes would sign Victor Anichebe, only David Moyes would sign Darron Gibson, only David Moyes would sign Paddy McNair and Donald Love, despite admitting that he hadn’t even seen the latter play. This is David Moyes’ team.
Moyes has managed to not only destroy any good work that Sam Allardyce did last campaign but has managed to turn fans against each other, churn a brand of football with no sense of plan or shape and had made the Stadium of Light a morgue.
The man simply does not care about this football club, he exudes the demeanour that he is too good for us and he is simply doing us a favour by being here. How could he possibly be to blame if the players “lack quality”? I mean, it's not like he bought them or anything. It surely isn’t his fault that teams like West Bromwich Albion, Southampton and Burnley can cut us open at will.
And the most startling thing of all is that he doesn’t seem to be under any pressure.
Despite the fact we’ll go into April with 20 points on the board, his job seems to be the safest in English football. This is easily the worst performing Sunderland side since 15 pointers but there are no cries for Moyes’ head. This is the ethos that he and the board have created. He is seemingly the only one that can get us out of this mess. He is our saviour, our everything and we should be grateful he’s here.
We’re constantly told to “keep the faith”, bombarded with slogans such as “#UnityIsStrength” and kitsch marketing campaigns to make us buy season tickets like the faceless drones we are but under Moyes there is no glimmer of hope. When we go down, and don’t worry it’ll be soon, Moyes will have one hell of a job rebuilding a depleted squad and will have to reinvigorate a hugely disillusioned fanbase.
In your heart of hearts do you actually believe that he is capable of doing that? I certainly don’t and Moyes hasn’t showed anything to suggest he is capable.
The game yesterday showed two teams that, on paper, seem relatively matched but in practice are poles apart. Sean Dyche has bred a belief into a limited but tenacious Burnley side to make them hard to beat, dogged and with a smattering of quality up front. They looked dangerous, full of spirit and well drilled - everyone in that team knew their job.
Contrast that to Sunderland, a team with no clue what to do other than lump it forward to Jermain Defoe and hope for the best, a manager who sits back and thinks “well it’s on them if we don’t win” and players who are not only quite poor but lack any form of confidence. A decent manager would at least put up a fight to get us out of this position - sadly, we have David Moyes.
Relegation to the Championship will be painful but it’ll be even more painful with David Moyes still at the helm.