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Sunderland in meltdown - a big seven days lies ahead as future of club and manager remain unclear

Sunderland have two games to play this week amidst a growing meltdown. Relegation recriminations continue and the manager has emerged with a devastating criticism of the players he has put on to the pitch this season - a crucial seven days is upon us.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

David Moyes says he will meet with Sunderland owner and chairman Ellis Short next Monday or Tuesday to discuss summer plans and his own future.

With the first team at the Emirates tonight and concluding the season on Sunday at Stamford Bridge, few will be expecting any further cheer from Arsenal and Chelsea.

And the performance in Saturday's final home game against Swansea has set off another sequence of aftershocks in a terrible season with recriminations and accusations bubbling near the surface.

Sunderland v Swansea City - Premier League
Half of the Sunderland first team saluted the club's supporters on Saturday, half elected not to
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Moyes has embarked on something of a mission - the destination of which appears unknown - ahead of next week's summit with Short.

The Sunderland boss has not shirked from criticising his players following the weekend's debacle in front of a horrified Stadium of Light crowd - shocked at the blatant lack of application from those in a red-and-white shirt.

Sunderland v Swansea City - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Moyes said yesterday that having reviewed performance data from the game, he agrees with supporter and pundit condemnations of his player's output and the Scot has gone further in the press since to openly ridicule those individuals in the squad who have downed tools in the belief they are about to move onto better things.

But it's what Moyes hasn't openly stated that is also telling. Noises coming out from sources close to the Sunderland boss have aired failings of previous regimes and a growing sense of the carnage at the club.

Middlesbrough v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The fact that in recent days observers have been left aghast at the details of what lies in certain individual's contracts at the Stadium of Light is but one example - all notably deals negotiated by those who have now departed the club.

That Jack Rodwell will become Sunderland's highest earner - at £60,000 a week - in the old second division has attracted headlines, as has the fact Fabio Borini can leave the club for a 'reduced' fee of £6m.

All clauses inserted into (or omitted from) contracts put in place by those previous regimes at the Stadium of Light, but revealed by Moyes - or sources close to him. And it's the motivation for the manager - or those sources close to him - revealing them now which hints at a deeper agenda.

This morning there have been further whispers emerging from local journalists about the scale of the cash Sunderland still have to shell out this summer for previous transfer business.

Not unprecedented and not even particularly unusual - all business is done in this way with transfers paid for in installments. The value mooted, £25m, is probably not even significant for Premier League player trading. But why now and who is leaking this information, and for what purpose and to meet what agenda?

It certainly appears as if Moyes is waging a battle on two fronts. First he's attempting engineer a position of strength in advance of his negotiations with Short.

That means shifting as much blame onto others as he can to explain the state of the club. That's the current squad and previous managerial incarnations and directors of football who hired the present playing staff. And not just hired them but lured them with contract terms clearly not in the club's favour which have exposed Sunderland AFC to risk upon relegation.

The Byrne legacy - decisions made by previous regimes are coming under increasing scrutiny

In public Moyes is sticking to the line that he has recently presented - that he knows what Sunderland need to do and that he believes he is the man to implement it, telling the Northern Echo:

Nothing has changed about my future. I'm repeating myself. I've laid out the plans and what I would like, what I think it needs and we will see about it next week.

Second, with his reputation battered by this season's relegation, Moyes needs to ensure that if he does stay at Sunderland that the club gives him the best opportunity it can to engineer a bounce back into the Premier League. And that needs money. Money from Ellis Short.

Moyes is no mug. He's carefully manipulated relationships with the local press in the north east and varies his style between press conference revelations that attract headlines and off-the-record whispers which filter out regardless.

For his part, Short is understood to be willing to be convinced by Moyes that he is the man to lead Sunderland back to the Premier League but the American has grown increasingly concerned about the way the club has failed so badly on the pitch this season as well as monitoring the continuing supporter displeasure aimed squarely at his manager.

So the two men - and chief executive Martin Bain - will meet during the early part of next week and there appears to be two likely outcomes.

Moyes will emerge assured of the club's plans and begin to build for next season. To the dismay of many supporters.

Or Moyes will depart. And that action will bring with it further concern around whether Short has any notion of a recovery plan. It will also launch us into June without a manager to oversee the crucial early-to-middle weeks of the close season - which we lost in such damaging fashion last year too.


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