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More bad headlines for Moyes; Blame game starts & Fan angst - solely restricted to social media?

David Moyes is in the headlines again as fresh 'evidence' of his unpleasant attitude towards female reporters is unearthed; the 'blame game' has started as Sunderland slide closer to relegation - but identifying who really is at fault may mean no one at all is being held to account; and there's continued suggestions that match-day opposition to Moyes, Bain, Short et al is solely confined to the internet and social media. Is that true and why has none of it spilled over into the stands yet?

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Sunderland v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Are there any ladies who haven't been shouted at by Moyes?

The BBC have revealed that Match of the Day reporter Jacqui Oatley made a complaint to Everton in 2011 about the behaviour of David Moyes in a post-match interview.

Asked about an apparent headbutt by Marouane Fellaini in a match against Stoke City, Moyes took exception to being asked about the midfielder's conduct. Irritated by the line of questioning, the current Sunderland manager confronted Oatley over her mode of enquiring.

There's no suggestion that any part of Moyes' rant on that occasion could be interpreted as 'sexist' but Oatley did file a complaint with Everton who appear to have claimed they were unaware of it.

The BBC are said to be investigating what actions took place subsequently. Moyes and Sunderland AFC had until yesterday to respond in writing to the FA's enquiry about the incident last month when the Scot confronted reporter Vicki Sparks and threatened to 'slap' her and appeared to warn her about future visits to the Stadium of Light.

Moyes' behaviour has intensified the media pursuit of him and the club as Sunderland limp closer to the Championship. With no win since early February and seven games without a goal, the press have a neat focal point for their derision in the figure who has overseen certain relegation and who has existed in the national conscience as 'the man who failed at Manchester United'.

The Blame Game

A victory over West Ham on Saturday is the only way in which Sunderland and David Moyes will, for a few days at least, assuage the swirling headlines of blame and post-mortem surrounding the Stadium of Light this week.

Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League
Jermain Defoe looks on in disgust at the rubbish around him on the pitch on Sunday. He was unimpressed by the litter too
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

There's two strands to all of it. Who is at fault for the mess, and has David Moyes done enough to prove he's worthy of some belief that he can build the club back up again in the Championship?

There is a good reason sides who are relegated hope to go down fighting. Momentum in football often transcends divisions and the summer break. Teams who do succumb to the drop often benefit from having shown signs of life in their death throes the previous season.

Newcastle are one example of a team who went down in a buoyant fashion under the 'Rafalution', continuing their momentum through last summer with healthy season ticket sales and a swell of expectation on Tyneside. Compare with Aston Villa who have continued their Premier League stagnation into the Championship and will do well to finish in the top half of the second tier this season.

The Sun ponder that the apathetic toxic mood on Wearside may yet prove damaging in the next campaign:

The powers that be on Wearside insist David Moyes' job is safe. But he has shown nothing so far to suggest he is the man to lift Sunderland next season.

Fans have just about given up on the Scot and there is a danger that negative mood will fester into the Championship campaign.

Perhaps the real damage will be caused by the distinct lack of one individual or group that supporters can hold to account. For Newcastle fans last season it was Steve McClaren with owner Mike Ashley side-stepping much of the blame thanks to the sheer amount of cash he had handed the former-England manager to build his relegation side.

At Sunderland, Ellis Short is widely assumed to be desperately seeking a buyer - so hounding an owner who wants out seems futile to many.

David Moyes retains a chunk of match-going supporters' tolerance thanks to the lethargy amongst the faithful at sacking managers every 6 months and even identifying who amongst the playing staff shares blame is difficult.

This group of Sunderland players contains some gems like Jordan Pickford and Jermain Defoe who have largely been exemplary this season. As for the rest, many are just crap, limited or 'losers' by default. Though sections of the Stadium of Light crowd may yet target the likes of Lamine Kone or Adnan Januzaj again for their apparent part in the Sunderland 'problem'.

Fan angst - is it solely playing out on social media?

It's an angle which has been presented for a few weeks in some quarters - that Sunderland supporters are split with an online antagonism towards David Moyes and Ellis Short which doesn't exist amongst the match-going fan base.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

This quote in the Telegraph after Sunday's 44,000 fans dispersed without any sign of displeasure in the stands encapsulates the media view of current supporter positioning on Wearside:

This was supposed to be the start of a rebellion, when, according to social media, there would be loud protests against manager David Moyes and owner Ellis Short. There was no sound of them inside the stadium.

And it's a good point. Barring some muted futile attempts at launching a round of 'Moyes Out' in recent games at Watford, Leicester and at the Stadium of Light at the weekend, there is little physical evidence of angst with either the current Sunderland manager or owner Ellis Short.

Vague talk of protest on Sunday was solely confined to a few on social media and there was no physical sign of fan vexation at the ground or in its vicinity.

'Apathy' and 'inertia' are the current buzzwords to explain this lack of unrest. But is that the sole reason why Moyes, Bain and Short have little to fear from the physical public on Wearside so long as they close their eyes to the content of the internet and social media?

Certainly at present Sunderland supporters are significantly more vocal in their contempt of the club online. Another embarrassing display against West Ham on Saturday may finally tip that annoyance into the Stadium of Light itself.

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