Footballers are curious creatures, aren’t they? As the game has evolved so has the breed of human that the academy system develops, and for the most part there’s no loyalty any more.
Where once it was seen as an honour and a privilege to play for a club the size of Sunderland, it seems these days we’re taken for a ride by the vast majority of the players that pass through our club.
In the eyes of most of the footballers that have played for this club in recent years we’re just another stop on the road. Players like Fabio Borini and Adnan Januzaj can consistently under-perform in a season where this club is relegated to the Championship yet find themselves better off for it. They come here, pick up an easy wage and then leave, whilst the fans are left to pick up the pieces of a torrid campaign.
In Perthshire yesterday it was more of the same from the band of merry misfits that saw this club resigned to a stint in the second tier, losing 3-0 against a St Johnstone side that weren’t really made to work for their victory.
By all accounts the usual suspects - in particular Lamine Kone - were up to their old tricks again, not showing anywhere near enough effort and application in a game against a team that, in reality, we should be walking all over with ease.
So to hear Simon Grayson speak passionately about his dismay at what he has seen from some of the Sunderland players in recent weeks was refreshing. He's barely been here two minutes, yet Grayson is able to empathise with supporters in a way that other, more recent managers, weren't capable of.
Talking after yesterday’s defeat to Scottish side St Johnstone, Grayson said:
There’s certain players that are buying into the ideas and certain players that aren’t.
If players are not willing to work hard for this shirt they can go somewhere else. I’m not prepared to work with players who aren't prepared to run and do the basics that millions would give their right arm to do.
We have to address it and we will address it.
He then added:
It’s no surprise that when the young kids come on, they run around, they show desire to run forward and back, to do everything that is required to make a successful team.
The three biggest cheers from the crowd were when James Vaughan won two headers and then chased down a centre-half who put the ball out of play.
That’s what the rest of the team have to do, and if they are not prepared to do that, they won’t be here.
Music to my ears.
Grayson was quick to praise the effort of new-boy James Vaughan in the game, and it should serve as a stark reminder to these players that this manager won’t suffer their shit any longer than he deems necessary.
If there are Sunderland supporters still out there that are skeptical about the decision to place Grayson in charge, I ask them why? Why wouldn’t you want a man in charge that quite clearly has the best interests of the fans and this football club at heart?
I’m not expecting that we’ll see a flash or flamboyant Sunderland side next season, but I do think that the most important thing that Grayson can do with this Sunderland team is to bring the way that our players perform more in line with what is expected of them from the supporters.
Players that don’t have the desire to work hard, show commitment and personal integrity need to just piss off, and quick.