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Sunderland have a chance for change if they have a new owner and Coleman in charge this summer

Our club has been fragmented for too long now, the culmination of which could likely be a relegation to League One come the end of the current season. But with rumours suggesting fresh leadership could be on its way, should we get excited about the potential for change?

PA Images via Getty Images

You would be hard pressed to find a Sunderland fan who has viewed this season as anything other than a complete and utter disaster. As the year has progressed, we have watched the club lurch from one catastrophe to another encompassing everything from a failed managerial appointment to the utterly ludicrous off-field incidents.

This is perhaps nothing new to long-time Sunderland fans who have been subjected to some utter dross in recent years, but this season there seems to have been a certain malaise hanging over the entire club and, especially, the fanbase.

Even through the drudgery of humiliating Premier League seasons, Sunderland fans on the whole have been an absurdly upbeat group given the circumstances. However, as this season has dragged on, even the most optimistic of fans seem to have acquired an outlook bordering on nihilistic.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

It would be easy to attribute this to any number of factors, perhaps most obviously the fact that our owner seems to have all but washed his hands of the club.

Ellis Short would be a distant memory if only he could unload the mess that Sunderland have become to somebody with the appropriate funds and associated lack of common sense - and with reports in the media today suggesting that Niall Quinn could very well be back involved in a takeover of the club, eager supporters will have to sit tight and see how that one plays out.

Ownership aside, there has been something else fundamentally wrong at the heart of the experience of supporting Sunderland this season - namely, the lack of players who inspire the fans.

We all had our footballing heroes growing up; whether they were the majestically talented likes of Kevin Phillips, players who would genuinely run themselves into the ground for the shirt they loved such as Kevin Ball, the enigmas who fans love to watch such as Stephane Sessegnon or the out-and-out lunatics who opposition fans love to hate like Scottish midfield hard-man Alex Rae.

Alex Rae

However, this season the one player fans could really get excited about – Lewis Grabban – not only cut short his time with the club but, as a loanee, never really felt like one of our own.

This has left a gaping hole in the side, not just because the club has singularly failed to replace Grabban’s handy knack of popping up with useful goals but equally because the remainder of the squad is so heavily comprised of journeymen, has-beens, never-should-have-beens, players who quite clearly could not give a toss about Sunderland AFC and youth players who have been thrown into a hugely pressurised environment and have thus been unable to express themselves as they might well have done in a more settled side.

By no means is this a judgement of the youth players who have been drafted in over the season, as most have been a rare source of optimism for the club’s future, but the failure of the club’s senior players to summon even a modicum of fight has been nothing short of disgraceful.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

In the event of a takeover by Quinn or whoever else it’s likely that Coleman will be given at least some tools to reinvigorate the fan-base - a small pot of money and the ability to clear out the decks is needed if we truly are able to move on fully from what has been a truly depressing period in our history.

Sunderland have an excellent academy set-up, youth players who would bleed for the shirt and the perfect opportunity – sadly in the form of borderline inevitable relegation to League One – to bring these young players into the first team squad.

If Coleman - in collaboration with a new owner with fresh investment behind them - can make a few canny signings over this summer to bolster the experience in his squad and jettison as much of the deadwood as possible, there is a fantastic opportunity to get fans falling back in love with Sunderland.

It’d be something to get excited about, something that will remind the Wearside faithful what the word hero really means - especially if Ellis Short has stepped aside by that point and someone new is in charge right at the top.

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