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We might be down, but we mustn’t give up hope

Michael Bowers gives his thoughts on relegation, and why he still hopes the future can be bright for our wounded club.

Sunderland v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

So that's it - our 10 year stay in the Premier League is over.

The outsiders who perceive Sunderland merely as being, 'the club who just avoid relegation by the skin of their teeth every season' don't actually understand the context of the whole situation and it really drives me mad.

Do any of them think our fans were actually happy with just finishing fourth bottom every season? Do they not stop to think that we want more than that?

I'd be curious to see how Wigan fans felt when their club did the same thing. Secure top flight safety, start poorly, finish well and stay up again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. No progress, merely existence. I'm prepared to bet their fans would have been frustrated at the lack of progression, for if it's anything similar to how I feel, they must have been tearing their bloody hair out.

That being said I don't really feel any extreme emotions despite our fate being finally sealed. Why is that? Why don't I feel more bothered or annoyed at the fact that my beloved club has been relegated from the elite league in English football, the league that many feel is the best league in the world?

Make no mistake, I'm gutted to see that we won't be in the Premier League next year, but at the same time I want something different. I need something different. I've grown tired and somewhat dejected at seeing the club seemingly just settle for top flight survival while not looking like they want to do better.

I don't think we'll get out of the Championship at the first time of asking, but I'm actually looking forward to the season that lies ahead. Much of my excitement will be shaped by what happens in the summer: who stays, who goes and who arrives will be key to the fans’ expectations and excitement. I do worry about how we will adapt to the Championship having been out of it for so long, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it I suppose.

While the official inquest will begin at the end of the season I'm sure people will have already started looking at where things have gone wrong. A better question, however, would be: where didn't things go wrong?

Firstly I'll get David Moyes out of the way. If I’m being honest, I'm prepared to give him the start of next season; however, before you all chuck whatever device you're reading this on, hear me out.

He has been a complete failure this season, I can't disagree with that. His failure and unwillingness to properly use Whabi Khazri has been indefensible, and some of his tactical decisions have been abysmal at best. However, I do feel this season’s horrific list of injuries and limited transfer funds given to the man have made his job incredibly difficult. Just look at Crystal Palace; they’ve spent somewhere close to £90 million this season and haven’t done particularly well - imagine what we could have done with that kind of money?

I have supported Moyes for large parts of this season as I believe he he been given a difficult job, and stands out as an opportunity for some stability and the potential to implement a long-term plan. However, if he fails in the transfer window this summer and starts poorly next season (and I'm talking after 10-15 games) then chances are I'll want him gone the same way as most do right now.

For me, though, the players are just as deserving of the fans’ anger. Should the manager motivate them? To a degree yes, but player responsibility isn't highlighted enough in my opinion. Whether they've been 'motivated' or not, I think there's been a number of games where this squad have simply bottled it. People argue that they may not like Moyes? Cry me a river. They are paid handsomely and should act in a thoroughly professional manner.

With regard to Martin Bain, I don't feel I can attach that much blame to him as he has basically been given the job of completely restructuring the club - and that will take a more than one season. Despite the threat of redundancies to working-class employees, which is a real disappointment, I feel Bain is someone I can only judge properly in at least one year's time.

Ellis Short's failings as an owner have been well documented by most on Roker Report, so I'm not going to go over old ground. What I will say is we need some clarity on what his position is. We know he's looking to sell but is there any progress on that? I'm guessing there isn't (and probably won't be for some time now) but some connection with Short may be a start.

Relegation I can take. Truth be told I'd have been somewhat disappointed if we had stayed up - mainly because I don't want to go through it all over again next season and lose to teams like Bournemouth, Leicester, Watford, Burnley, Middlesbrough and Swansea. Right now, I hate the Premier League; if all we aim to do is finish fourth bottom every year then I'd rather try and fight for promotion in the Championship because at least then it would feel like you're actually trying to achieve something. Everyone has their breaking point when they feel enough is enough and, like many others it would seem, this season has definitely been my final straw.

What I'm more bothered about now is how we respond to this season’s disappointment, and whether we will be able to find a cohesive plan going forward.

I don't want us to come back up before we're ready either. I'd rather we stayed in the Championship for a couple of years and sort ourselves out off the field then return to the Premier League once we're ready to actually compete in it again. Best case scenario is we get it right next season and bounce back, but I highly doubt that will happen.

This season has been nothing short of catastrophic in almost every conceivable way and this is a dark period for our fans. Not just getting relegated but what the future holds for our club.

That being said, we will be back. We may be down right now, but one day I believe we'll be back in the top flight, and this time hopefully we will be ready to actually compete and finally give these long-suffering supporters their club back. The kind of club they deserve and one they can be proud of again.

Ha'way the Lads.

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