Pretty much every Sunderland fan walking this Earth has experienced relegation at some point or another. And despite our club residing in the Premier League for last ten years, there’s still a feeling that Sunderland are somewhat of a yo-yo club. It could be because a litany of near escapes have made the club synonymous with the notion of relegation - or the fact that over the last twenty years, Sunderland have been relegated from the Premier League to the Championship on four occasions. If you average that out, it’s a relegation once every five years - very yo-yoish indeed.
All of that goes some way to explaining why there was no real emotion shown by the home fans in the Stadium Of Light when Joshua King’s late winner sealed our fate - it’s something we’ve all seen before. It shouldn’t be that way, though.
A large section of Sunderland supporters, mainly the generation who followed us during the bleak times of the mid-to-late 1980’s, will tell you that it’s not that bad and things have been a lot worse. While the resilience is admirable and ties in well with the fans motto of Keep The Faith, I feel that it’s still somewhat misguided.
Back then, the the same sentiments will have been echoed that it’s not the end of the world but, down in The Championship, you can certainly see it from there.
The division is a graveyard. Look no further than the battle for the final relegation spot. One of either Blackburn Rovers - a Premier League winning side - or Nottingham Forest - who have two European cups to their name - could fall into League One upon the culmination of this season. And if its not either of them, it could be Birmingham City, a team who won the League Cup in 2011. And who will take their places? Two clubs who have 15 seasons worth of Premier League experience between them - Sheffield United and Bolton Wanderers. If Bradford are successful in the play offs, then another post-1992 top-flight team will join them.
Even further up in the league, you have Aston Villa languishing in mid-table. Leeds United have been down there so long that a whole generation of football fans probably don't understand just how much of a big club they are.
The Championship doesn’t care who you are - it will chew you up and spit you out.
“Yes but it’s a league we traditionally do well in” I’ve heard many cry and for that we have been spoiled. Do you really think The Championship cares about tradition, though? Do you really think teams like Brentford and Burton Albion could care less about how we’ve done down there in the past? They won’t see a proud, grand, beast of a club. They’ll see a wounded animal that they can kill off. Which is appropriate, given that Sunderland are currently managed by a man so badly scarred by his last two jobs that it looks like it could be the end of him.
It’s more than likely that Middlesbrough will be joining us after their one year stay in the top flight. It took them seven years to achieve promotion last season, proving that if you don’t get out quickly, you can be easily sucked into the mire. I want us to be competing at the top level, as often as possible, not just plodding about the Championship.
I don’t want this to be perceived as not being able to accept relegation. It’s been clear what way we’ve been going since October, I’ve made my peace with it. I don’t want us to become one of those clubs who become part of the furniture though - I want Sunderland to be in and out of the Championship without even sticking around for a cuddle.
The revival needs to be instant and that has to start with those at boardroom level cutting their losses on David Moyes. The excuse to keep the manager who has failed to build upon the momentum provided by Sam Allardyce has been stability, but saying Moyes is stable is almost as cringeworthy as listening to Theresa May bang about her fallacy of “strong and stable leadership.”
This is not to blame Moyes entirely, however - a change in ownership is needed and Ellis Short must step up his efforts to find a new owner for the club. If we can rebuild with a new board and a new manager, then we have the opportunity to enter the new season with refreshment and hope, just like we did during our last promotion campaign.