It's early March, spring has sprung. Arsenal face a daunting second leg in the Champions League where they need a miracle to get through. Stoke City are beautifully in mid-table, looking like they'll trouble no one above them but not slip down much further. Sunderland are deep in the relegation places and are at the crossroads where they'll either decide to perform their annual escape or slip away peacefully into The Championship. It's all comforting in it's familiarity.
So with Sunderland in their usual predicament, you'd expect a few choice words from wider media. Perhaps the manager is getting called into question for not getting the best out of his squad? Maybe it's even the players receiving the ire of the press, perceived as not doing enough to keep the club out of trouble? It could even be the board, due to not giving the manager sufficient support which is not allowing him and the team the chance to flourish?
Well it's none of the above, you may be surprised to hear. It is, of course, the fans who are taking the brunt of the criticism. You know, the supporters who spend their hard earned money on following a team who have been absolutely horrendous both on and off the pitch for years now. Fans who, despite watching utter dross, continue to average over forty thousand at home. Fans who regularly sell out their away fixtures, even though they're one of the most geographically isolated teams in the division. Fans who have been beaten down, time and time again, but still turn up out of nothing but loyalty and hope.
However, now and again, it gets a bit much for some Sunderland fans. They're watching their team get pummelled, week after week and decide to head for the exit before the final whistle. Apparently, we're the only supporters in the entire footballing world who did this because no other clubs get singled out for it.
All those West Ham fans who left the London Stadium in droves when they were struggling earlier in the season? Nah, must have imagined that, have you not heard how the famous Boleyn Ground atmosphere has “migrated” to their new home? Or how about that Palace lot? You know those ones who bounce around in unison, copying what they saw on some Polish football YouTube videos? A few of them walked out when Sunderland actually did something good this season. That must have been a figment of my imagination though because Selhurst Park has this incredible atmosphere and don't let anyone tell you that their fans would do something as sacrilegious as leave early! Even our neighbours up the road didn't leave early when we dished out numerous beatings to them a few season back. Even if they did, the other twenty thousand who'd been locked out would have taken their places.
That's just three examples though. Three examples of teams with consistent unwavering, fantastic support.
The truth is, all clubs have fans who piss off before full time. Maybe Sunderland do have more than others, maybe they don't. In our situation, it really doesn't matter. We're so painfully shit right now, if that's how some fans feel like they want to show their discontent, then fair enough. It's not for me (although I did seriously consider it during that dreadful Stoke game) but the people physically showing their dissatisfaction are probably doing more than people like me, who just sit their muttering obscenities under their breath.
These fans are from one of the most economically deprived areas in the country yet still get crowds that are genuinely staggering. So for people who probably can't even remember the last time they paid to attend a football match, to attack them, is pathetic.
Instead of trying to create a narrative out of the one thing concerned with Sunderland that is not actually a total embarrassment, why don't these people try and look at the real story? The manager who constantly fails to inspire these fans would be start. Apparently nothing is his fault and he can't be blamed for any of this situation. If only the media would realise it’s the Sunderland supporters who aren’t to blame for the clubs terrible situation and give them the same kind of grace.