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4 Reasons why relegation will be... okay for Sunderland

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Relegation doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It took a lot of time, but we found four genuine reasons why it might just be something worthwhile ...maybe ...depending on various factors working simultaneously ...so long as it’s handled properly ...yeah, it should be good. Probably.

Celebration
Kevin Ball holds aloft the 1st Division trophy in 1999.
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#1: It could be the beginning of a new youth movement

To praise David Moyes’ foresight in recruitment would be to contradict the very argument that the man unnecessarily sought to “rebuild” a squad that merely needed minor upgrades. That said, we . . . may be able to – at least unenthusiastic – appreciate that our manager’s prior mistakes could become an inadvertent positive in the season to come.

That positive comes in the form of the six players each under the age of 23. Assuming Jordan Pickford seeks new horizons and our youthful loanees do not return, that leaves a notable bunch of youngsters that could yet do a good job in a lower-performing division.

Lynden Gooch, Duncan Watmore, Didier Ndong Donald Love, Patrick McNair and (should he remain) George Honeyman, are more than capable of being developed from okay players into good ones.

New Zealand v United States Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

And . . . maybe David Moyes is the manager to do that.

If nothing else, one definitely intended design of Moyes’ managerial approach has been to implement a new, youth-inspired core to his team. It makes sense, too. He’ll have seen the many-upon-many prior seasons of players appearing as being more in control of the squad than the string of Moyes’ managerial predecessors. But a fairly-sized unit of young players – grateful to their new boss for opportunities and willing to perform for him – will perhaps be the instigator for a new Sunderland side entirely behind their manager.

Who knows? – Maybe this has been his plan all along.


#2: The underperformers could become the over-performers

For all that we have a really, uh, s***e squad overall these days, that doesn’t necessarily mean we have an actual s***e squad, more . . . s***e in a comparative sense.

The likes of a Victor Anichebe or a Papy Djilobodji haven’t exactly gone the distance on impressing anybody, but that’s as much to do with the standard of squads from other clubs as it is to do with the underperformance of our own.

The Premier League is a different landscape now to how it was even five years ago. There is no ever-struggling Wigan Athletic or uninspiring Cardiff City. The yo-yo clubs are becoming less frequent. Clubs are getting smarter, and they are either prepped for the Premier League or they stay in the Championship. Sunderland, in this case, is just a club that is no longer able to compete in the top tier.

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

But in the Championship, and having already referred to a unit of youthful players ready to fight for their boss, we may yet have a standard of players fit for purpose in the league below. Anichebe could arguably be a key goal-scorer for us in Jermaine Defoe’s absence, whereas others could – in comparison to Premier League standards – appear as being well above average against the poorer sides.

It would hardly become a case for keeping our worse players beyond next season, but there could yet be a use for those who – really – owe the club some final efforts in seeing it return to the Premier League again.

And that brings us to our next point . . .


#3: We will (hopefully) win more than six matches per season

As bad as he has been for us so far, it would take a cock-up of monumental proportions for David Moyes to botch a run in the Championship. He may be out-of-touch (and oh boy, he definitely is!) but we’ve seen the occasional instance where – when it all comes together – it comes together right.

Maybe it’s just that one-way approach he has, or whatever, but the man in charge has a system that he believes in and when he has every tool at his disposal to make it work, it usually does. That month-long stretch of upturning results attests to that.

Of course, one month in nine is not good enough, and it’s not to turn apologist for Moyes’ failings either, but the point is: should the aforementioned set of young players perform, and should the occasional-deadwood find their footing against inferior competition, and it all come together in a system Moyes himself is satisfied with, then we start seeing regular win rates again.

And, as we know, winning breeds confidence and confidence breeds winning. That alone is all these players (and indeed the manager himself) needs. The Premier League and its clubs have grown with the times and strengthened too much for Sunderland to compete (be that Moyes’ short-term fault or the club’s own long-term balls-up), but the Championship is littered with far less likely opposition.

That is the ideal environment for a manager and his players to start winning matches again. And that, of course, leads to the most important positive of all.


#4: Value for money will return

Our support here is unwavering, we all know that. No matter how many of us choose not to renew season tickets or boycott going to games, it makes no difference, because the overwhelming majority of us are far too-entrenched in the club itself. Everything that our club is (historically, territorially, et cetera) means too much to simply let go.

Hell, we still go even now, when we know this is the worst of times.

So how many more of us are likely to turn up when those victories at the Stadium of Light become all-the-more frequent? If you love the club, as thousands do, you’re gonna show up anyway. And while nobody should ever expect us to beat anybody, wouldn’t it be good to just have that one season where we arrive hoping to just not take another pasting off a newly-promoted club?

Sunderland v Burnley Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Like our own rivals this season, August will see Sunderland return to the division where we have near-constantly been viewed as the “big dog” of the yard, and that all comes from a record of whooping nearly every team that comes near us down there. It can be that way again. And there is no better feeling that gives greater memorable moments than winning matches on a weekly basis, until it becomes a debate for how we win, rather than if we win.

Getting those moments that money can’t buy is all well and good, but wouldn’t it be nice to finally have moments that didn’t cost us that much, for a change?

So let’s hope those young players do get their chance to knock it out the park next season, and those average players do come good, so winning and confidence can go hand-in-hand, for a season of actual enjoyment. Because, if all that comes together (and David Moyes doesn’t spoil it), this could just be the season we needed after all.