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Sunderland in crisis: Protest needs a purpose, and right now supporters can't see any point

The notion of protest has been muttered of late as Sunderland's problems intensify. But the mooted angst has yet to gain any traction or display itself publicly. Are the problems at the Stadium of Light too entangled and deep rooted for supporters to be able to see a way in which they can agitate for a 'fix'?

Apathy and inertia - two common words used to describe the state of the Sunderland fan base as a terrible season heads into its final month.

Ahead of the second home game in under a week, in some ways Sunderland supporters stand at a crossroads right now.

On the one hand voicing our displeasure when a top class side like Manchester United were in town felt rather futile. Displaying a fury that Sunderland couldn't beat a side bolstered by a net spend of £100m since Jose Mourinho took over was probably not the place for it. And whilst there was/is a slim chance of survival many felt that last weekend was not the time for a public display of disillusionment.

But against a mediocre West Ham team who arrive this Saturday, and with relegation now that bit nearer, perhaps the time is now right to vent our anger at those to blame for Sunderland's plight particularly if it all goes wrong on the pitch again from 3pm onwards.

The problem is, no one can agree on who is responsible for this mess and even if we could, what do we hope to achieve? The word 'protest' hung in the air last week and if you spent any time on social media you may have believed an angry mob was going to descend on the Stadium of Light and demand someone be removed for crimes against Sunderland AFC.

Except nothing happened. The game against Manchester United was over by half time and most of us could be forgiven for pondering how we could sneak away from the ground without anyone noticing. There were a few attempts at voicing displeasure at David Moyes but none of it caught on. And the threatened protest was nowhere to be seen.

Not that anyone is knocking those who tried but the battle for the hearts and minds of the Sunderland faithful seems to be a way from convincing a sufficient number that protest is the way to go.

So with the enormous problems unfolding at Sunderland, just why is none of this agitating the fan base enough to stand up and say 'howld on, enough's enough'? And why is our perceived social media section of the support so much more antagonistic than the folks who sit in the stands every week?

Impromptu protests were something of a feature during Roker Park's history but agitation has diminished in the Stadium of Light years.

During the Cowie and Murray reigns at the old stadium, gatherings outside the director's entrance to voice displeasure exploded from time to time but the last significant organised display of disillusionment at Sunderland came over 20 years ago during the 'red card' protest of 1995. Peter Reid was appointed days later and the public tumults largely died with his arrival, the new stadium and the Premier League era except for one notable day over a decade ago.

That was March 2006 when a few hundred fans congregated to demand Bob Murray finally remove himself. It was an unpleasant affair with lines of police holding a mob back from the stadium entrance and few supporters probably want to get themselves involved in that kind of aggro again.

Perhaps all good protests need three things anyway, and we have none of them right now. Someone to blame, a set of achievable demands and a means by which to channel said angst.

Well firstly, finding someone to actually pin the blame on is hard enough. Ellis Short is undoubtedly the root cause of much of Sunderland's problems. It's just well, he has put money into the club and he appears to actively want to sell it. And he knows he made a right hash of running this football club so he's backed off and given control to his Chief Executive.

But if we were to make a demand of him, what would it be? To sell the club quicker, cheaper, to a supporters' trust, to someone richer, to someone with a clue how to run it? What?

David Moyes then. He shoulders a fair portion of blame for sure. He turned a limited but capable Premier League squad, who knew how to fight to survive, into one which can't score a goal and have limped to relegation. So, do we want him out, do we want him in, do we want him to be more positive, to attack more, to defend better, to pick Wahbi Khazri? What?

Martin Bain. But he's a bit new isn't he. And he's got an awful job on his hands to fix this mess. But do we want him to sack David Moyes or how about demanding he make another public appearance? Was he the one who decided to make those people redundant at the same time as our pathetic players were treated to a week in New York. A trip they returned from and haven't won or scored since as well. And where's he gone anyway? He's vanished after his initial burst of public showings last year.

The rest of those who should shoulder blame for their part in the mess which has culminated in impending relegation have long gone. Margaret Byrne, Roberto Di Fanti, Lee Congerton, Gary Hutchinson - heck, add the sorriest of the list of managers to the hall of shame too - Di Canio, Poyet, Advocaat - get them all down here.

So it's a big list, but does anyone have a definitive answer on who to blame and therefore what we want and does anyone know how we channel this set of unknown demands? I dunno, so I'll just be sat wringing my hands wondering what to do and anyway I think I might just leave early on Saturday and beat the traffic if it's all the same.

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