Dear Roker Report,
Chris Coleman isn’t going to save us - and I don’t say that because I don’t rate him.
I’ve been very impressed with him but it’s absolutely no good hiring a really good manager if you’re then going to deny him the tools for the job.
Following years of gross mismanagement from the people at the top, Coleman has inherited a squad with no quality, no heart, no desire and no fight. They’re gutless and useless in equal measure with very few exceptions, and asking Coleman to rescue us with this lot is akin to asking him to polish a turd. Unfortunately, we’re completely out of polish.
How many of the players in our first team squad are actually good enough? You can probably count them on one hand and have plenty fingers to spare. I accept that we have no money but our financial situation likely hasn’t been helped by collapsing attendances, and that is entirely due to the utter dross served up week in and week out.
The Chuckle Brothers are trying to save money to make Sunderland an easier package to sell, and that’s fine by me because we all want that pair gone, but their current stance is suicidal for all of us.
They’re aiming for nothing more than Championship survival, so I don’t think we can expect any kind of promotion push for years to come, but they need to realise that if at least some money isn’t given to Coleman to create a half-decent team, the only place we’re going is League One.
If they really think that he’s the right man for the job then they have to back him. I think it was the most impressive thing that Martin Bain has done since arriving at Sunderland when he secured the services of Coleman, but if we’re not going to back him then it just seems like his appointment was nothing more than a complete waste of time.
Let’s consider for a moment the likely result of making no real investment in the transfer window. Any hope of a respectable league finish will be gone and the lower we end up, the less money will come into the club. It is highly likely that we will be relegated again, as I see absolutely no prospect of this group of players achieving anything else, and that will herald another huge drop in income for the club.
In League One, we will also see attendances collapse even further, which will see a further drop in income. It may well get to the point where playing at the SoL will be like playing at a deserted graveyard. Having a big stadium is great when it’s full as it really can be the extra man for the home side, but in the third tier I suspect it will be the extra man for the visitors.
If Coleman isn’t backed financially in order to turn our fortunes around then, if I was him, I’d walk away from Sunderland. Even if he doesn’t leave after the transfer window, I fear that he’ll be gone after relegation as he’s already far too good for us.
What’s worst of all in all of this is that I fear that a generation of fans will be lost forever. It’s natural for people to want to be associated with winners and quality so why would any young football fan want to be associated with Sunderland? Why do so many football fans living in Gateshead support Newcastle and not Gateshead? It’s simply because Gateshead are small and poor while Newcastle are big and offer a far better quality product. Will we see Sunderland youngsters start to do the unthinkable and switch their allegiances to Newcastle, Chelsea, Manchester City or give up on football altogether? I would suggest that if Sunderland go down to League One, which is the most likely scenario at this stage, I’ll not see Sunderland in the top flight again in my lifetime - and, at 53, I don’t think I’m that old.
Sitting in League One, penniless, with no half-decent players and an empty pink stadium will hardly solve Ellis Short’s problems. As remarkable as it may sound, I think it’s quite possible that we could then slide into League Two.
I’ve supported Sunderland for the vast majority of my life but even I’m starting to have enough. This week is the first time I’ve not read Roker Report every day because I’m simply fed up of reading about what I now believe is inevitable. The only thing that will prevent the doomsday scenario I outlined above is some sort of backing for Coleman but that just isn’t going to happen. Life has to move on and while I’m too old and too loyal to ever switch allegiances to another football club, I find that these days I focus far more on playing squash, going fishing, going to the gym and playing music.
It’s crunch time now. The wolves are at the door and if we are to be saved, Short has to roll the dice one last time. IF he does and IF it fails, he loses a little more money than he otherwise would have done. If he doesn’t back Coleman, we’re certainly going down and he will definitely lose, as will the club, the fans and the entire region.
ed’s note: You’ve made many interesting points there Andrew, and I certainly sympathise with your worries. Chris Coleman spoke about “needing to give this group a lift” with new faces and I honestly think that is all we need to get us over the line - some new players that can change the dynamism of the squad and help us to win some extra games. Fans just want to be excited, and if we come out of January underwhelmed I think the feeling of dread might just continue right through to the end of the season. The clock is ticking, and time will tell us what happens, but I’m not hopeful. Ellis Short isn’t going to have a sudden change of heart, I’m afraid. Not at this late stage in the window.