clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Holding Sunderland to account; We need to talk about the players - revolting or just rotten?

Sunderland's players - the squad who have led this club to relegation - have escaped the bulk of fan anger thus far. With the focus of blame firmly on David Moyes and Ellis Short, a whole first team may yet escape the Stadium of Light without facing their share of wrath. But have they been revolting or just plain rotten?

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

Sunderland fans have been remarkably tolerant this season. Words such as 'apathetic' and 'intertia' have become the accepted wisdom for why supporters on Wearside have not vented any huge display of anger towards the club, owner, manager or players.

Even the blame game has been a sedate affair with the reasons for relegation so goddam obvious they really don't need repeating over and over. Sunderland have been treading the path along the cliff tops for five years, and everyone knew a mere gust of wind would topple the club into the abyss of the Championship. Moyes just happened along, sneezed and blew us over without so much as a bless-you.

Or did you really think mid-table mediocrity was banging on the door? Sam Allardyce sold us a myth. And now he's busy elsewhere establishing an actual mid-table side as an actual mid-table side.

David Moyes has worn the look of a man staring into the void all season; his burden of liability is significant and remains of grave concern. Moyes was more the fat lad who sat on the camel than the proverbial straw which broke it. He hastened our demise with a chloroformed hankerchief to the face rather than fussing over the life-support.

Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

But the resigned reaction to confirmation of the drop in the red-and-white half of the north east has likely confirmed the true extent of just how long this tragedy has been brewing.

Yes, we gnashed and we wailed at the stagger over the edge when Josh King scored for Bournemouth, but it feels like anger aimed at David Moyes may now have peaked as the 54-year-old Scot seems to have taken the brunt of fan disillusionment with his reign of misery reached its zenith. The wake has concluded and now we must face the future.

Moyes is no mug, despite the caricaturing of him amongst certain sections of the media and Sunderland support. 'The energy vampire' one former player allegedly called him - seriously, a grown man thought that up, and then another grown man thought it amusing enough to publish as a headline in a national newspaper. Talk about cringe.

None of it does any good though. Whether we like it or not, Moyes will likely to be the man to be at least given the task of a summer rebuild at Sunderland. And if he gets it wrong and the start of the season in the Championship is as abject as this one in the Premier League, then we can go back to hounding him out.

But for now, a grudging painted smile of seeing-what-happens-next appears to have befallen the fan base.

But enough of the miserable Scot at the helm, what about the players who have taken to the pitch and gotten us in the clarts? Some of them have had a bit of stick - strangely enough mainly those who frequent the right wing. The rest have escaped largely scot-free and that cannot be fair.

What exactly was wrong? Was it a revolt, or are they just rotten?

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Some we know have outright refused to play for Sunderland at times. We know this because Patrick van Aanholt openly admitted that he was prepared to, and because it became common knowledge that Lamine Kone almost refused to play against Southampton earlier in the season due to issues at the time between the player and the club.

There have been rumours of feigned injuries, and players presenting with suspicious 'knocks'. There have also been whispers that more than one Sunderland player did not want to take to the pitch against Bournemouth, such was the fear of newspaper reports which predicted the Stadium of Light crowd would finally snap.

Some of them really don't like David Moyes. Some do as it happens. But some of them really don't. So did they turn against the manager or are they just a feeble collective?

What we do know for certain is that many of Sunderland's squad are overpaid relative to their talent. A top-ten Premier League wage bill for a Championship-ability squad. Heaven knows how some of them ended up here, yet those who lured the mediocre with promises of sixty-grand a week have now largely all departed for a gravy train elsewhere.

We also know that there's a soft core of losers and bottlers within the Black Cats' ranks.

Southampton v Sunderland - EFL Cup Fourth Round Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

We also know that there is a gaggle of them who have been actively plotting their escape from the Stadium of Light for weeks, if not months - some since January. And that's not the usual one-eye-on-a-move at some non-determined point in the future, that's actively pre-planning an escape-route long before the proper relegation run-in had begun - which was so utterly pathetic anyway as it happens.

And some of the Sunderland squad try really hard but just aren't very good.

Yep - David Moyes has been appalling. But equally so have been the players who have pulled on a shirt which used to have 'effort is a minimum' written on the label. And before you cry 'they don't like the manager' - good, I hope they dislike him so much they never darken the door of Sunderland again.

So when you're watching them this Saturday, just remember to sing the BLOOS in between the choruses of 'Moyes Out'. Bottlers, Losers, Overpaid, Outcasts and Shirkers. Almost everyone of them - bar about four.

As much as Moyes and co. are in charge of this awful mess, there just so happens to be a squad full of players who simply havent put the effort in - and that is unforgivable.