As another dismal week on Wearside concluded, Sunderland manager Chris Coleman decided to give his players a few days away from each other as an inevitable back-to-back relegation looms.
It’s difficult to imagine that granting the players some time off will do any good, but what can Coleman do at this point? Week after week the players constantly let him down with amateurish performances and minimal effort - no wonder he doesn’t want to see them.
Since Coleman joined the club, he’s brought (or at least tried to bring) a positive attitude with him, whether it be in press conferences or interviews, and he’s always tried to remain optimistic despite the club’s constant downfall. But, even he looks resigned to relegation at this point and who can blame him? He’s inherited a squad full of players who know how to fail, with no money to fix it.
As fans, we’ve always complained about having managers with a defeatist attitude or a lack of understanding about the club, but Coleman is the complete opposite of that. He gets it and he’s willing to put everything on the line to save the club from the depths of despair. If only he had a team of players who were willing to do the same.
Leading up to kick-off against Preston, it was all set up for us to go and give ourselves a chance of staying in this league. Barnsley had lost at midday, the players would have known that and so would Coleman. But, when you’re trying to motivate a changing room full of nonentities who seem to only be motivated by money and mediocrity, it’s difficult.
The inept understanding that our players have of the game is something that Coleman has probably come to terms with, but the lack of effort is sickening. Giving them time off was likely more beneficial to the Sunderland manager and his staff than anyone else. In recent weeks the job has definitely taken its toll on him, but the sheer pride of the man won’t allow him to admit that. Taking time away for himself to reset and think of a way to approach the remainder of the season is justified.
As for the players, the news of a few days off will have been music to their ears.
Despite the grim situation that we’re in, the gaffer will still want to do everything he can to keep us up and training during the international break is usually an ideal time to get his thoughts across to the team.
Considering our current situation, heading off abroad with the squad for some warm weather training would be disastrous from a PR standpoint - remember the fallout from the New York trip last year? Not only that, but I can’t imagine Ellis Short will be willing to open his wallet to fund such an event. It says a lot about the current state of your club when the players seem to have more spare change than the owner.
So, what’s left for Coleman? The thrilling prospect of multiple training sessions in the same gloomy environment that the training ground provides? Maybe not.
But, surely some training is better than not at all? In this case, I don’t think it is. All season long the manager has been drilling the players but it hasn’t worked, so why would that change now?
It seems like the only thing left for Coleman to do is relax. The fans know what’s coming at the end of the season, the players know and deep down, so does he - so perhaps approaching the remainder of the season in a more relaxed environment might take the pressure off the players for once.
It’s difficult to come up with any positives surrounding the current team that we have, but Coleman has to try something. What that is remains up for debate.
Coleman has made it clear that he wants to remain in charge next season, but as tough as the job has been for him he has to start showing some intent for the future. It’s clear to see that no manager would have realistically saved us this season, but as fans we need something to cling onto. Playing the likes of John O’Shea and Lee Cattermole every week isn’t giving us hope that the future will be brighter.
We’re heading into the lowest point in our history and something has to be done about it, from top to bottom.