What is it about Sunderland fly-on-the-wall documentaries and the club being relegated?
I’ve only just been able to bring myself to watch the first three episodes of the new Netflix documentary “Sunderland ‘Til I Die”, and unfortunately they left me feeling thoroughly and utterly depressed.
In the build up to Saturday’s match coverage on BBC Newcastle, Nick Barnes asked Martyn McFadden from ALS if he’d watched it, and he rather honestly admitted that he couldn’t bear to watch it as he knew what was going to happen.
I tend to agree - reliving what was an absolutely wretched season was no fun whatsoever. Yes, we get to see some of the inner workings of the club in microscopic detail, and the production values are superb. The passion of the fans is, of course, never in doubt and the support staff come across brilliantly - Joyce, Paul, Leanne, and Andy who works on the door.
But nice guy though he is - even dropping his kids off at school - hapless goalkeeper Jason Steele still cost us more points last season than I care to think about.
And maybe that’s the point - I don’t want the club humanising these people. I don’t want to feel sorry for one of the most useless goalkeepers we’ve ever had. Yes, he’s just a guy doing his job, but that doesn’t make any of the pain we felt watching the inept performances of him and his teammates last season feel any better.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the show was showing what goes on behind the scenes during transfer deadline day - or, more to the point, what doesn’t happen.
When before all we’ve seen is some unlucky Sky Sports reporter standing outside Black Cat House with the lights burning bright behind him, we were treated to a view of what goes on inside - with club staff working frantically to try and get deals over the line that, ultimately, never came off.
Like the BBC’s Premier Passions series during the 1996-97 season - where we saw Lesley Callaghan working out the differing permutations of results on a spreadsheet - the agony of the inevitable relegation is no less difficult to watch.
Martin Bain - to the shock of many - comes across as caring, and Simon Grayson comes across as clueless... not to mention his awful taste in woodsman shirts.
There’s not as much swearing in “Sunderland ‘Til I die” as there was in Premier Passions, but that navel gazing of our failures is never easy to watch.