Lee Cattermole has been boasting that Sunderland’s summer signings can expect a crash course on what the club ‘is all about’. Bold words from the club captain perhaps, but supporters can be forgiven for wincing at those proud brags considering the absolute state of the place in recent years.
And what exactly is Sunderland AFC ‘all about’ anyway? Is it losing, debt, mismanagement, sacking failed managers, relegation, lowering expectations, alienating large sections of the club’s support? How about rank arrogance, drunken footballers, an increasingly absent impassive owner and a constant whiff of scandal?
Too harsh? Perhaps. But there’s plenty out there who would have ticked at least a selection of the above list had they been stopped in Fawcett Street and asked to describe what Sunderland ‘is all about’. And that’s just our own fans. Heaven only knows what the rest of the world make of us.
So anyone reading Cattermole’s comments published on safc.com this morning can be forgiven for raising a wry eyebrow at the words uttered by the man who has been at the heart of Sunderland AFC since 2009:
We’ve got a lot of new players here and they have to understand what the club’s about. The more we can get the lads understanding the club and what we think it stands for and how we have seen it be successful, it will only help.
Most of us must have missed the “successful” period which Lee recalls with fondness in his eight years on Wearside - there have been occasional highlights of course, but low periods and unpleasant side-effects have dogged Sunderland AFC throughout this decade.
And whilst this isn’t intended to be a dig at Cattermole in particular, surely this summer is as much about refreshing what the club stands for as it is about building upon once-proud roots which are now somewhat decayed by a godawful soulless existence residing within a moral vacuum.
That ‘pride’ is something which has been stripped away for years - if not decades - at Sunderland. But the corrosive effect has been eroding away at the outer coating with which Wearsiders traditionally protect themselves at an increasingly alarming rate this past few years.
A disgraced sex offender, the drinking culture, the ‘rotten core’, over-paid incompetent executives, the sh*t that wouldn’t flush into the Championship and rank sub-standard footballers being paid Premier League wages.
Arrogance and incompetence will eventually grind down even the hardiest followers. Some have already been lost from the Sunderland fan base and there are plenty who have little desire to return any time soon.
But a light still flickers within the Wearside faithful and there remains a yearning to believe in the club. That’s why many have rallied behind Simon Grayson as the figure who just might restore some pride. Particularly after the defilement that was David Moyes’ brief tenure.
So what is Sunderland ‘all about’ then Mr Cattermole? Bored by blithe rallying cries and increasingly inane fighting talk, most round here have little desire to hear another round of meaningless adjectives or shit ‘hashtag’ slogans.
But perhaps we are ready to hear out what some brave soul has to say - one who would like to redefine what it is the club stands for nowadays. I’m all ears that’s for sure.
Perhaps Cattermole’s description of the current group and their manager and the work-rate he will demand goes someway to doing just that:
It’s been refreshing and that (work-rate) is what he asks for in his team and in his players as a standard level. That suits me down to the ground. That’s how I’ve made my career – on my effort and work-rate and on my honesty to go and do my best. If we can get that from the group it will be amazing how far we can go
But please no return to what the club has ‘been about’ in recent times Lee. It was shite. Time for a fresh approach.