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OPINION: “Things might look bleak for Sunderland but we can’t blame Chris Coleman for this mess”

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“Chris Coleman is the sole, flickering light illuminating the abyss - he’s the one person we shouldn’t be blaming”, writes Paddy Hollis.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

The 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa is just the latest in a long run of disappointing results for Sunderland. It was always going to be tough against an in-form side, but some fans have taken to blaming Chris Coleman for the continued poor run - this particular mode of finger pointing needs to stop as we head into the final ten matches.

Of course fans are getting frustrated over the continued failure on the pitch, but this just the type of issue which always seems to be blamed on the wrong person.

Under-performing footballers are seldom blamed when they under-perform. Instead, it’s the manager in charge - as if he is responsible for the eleven other humans not doing their job properly. Granted, Coleman may have made some curious selections in the past few weeks, but it’s hard to piece together a side capable of outplaying the opposition with the players Chris Coleman has at his disposal.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
A good workman doesn’t blame his tools, but you can’t blame the workman when his tools don’t work...
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

It’s the easy option to blame the manager in this situation but at the end of the day he’s not the man playing on the pitch. Like I said, there are occasions where some of his team selections have been a bit unusual. On Tuesday night in particular we had four attacking players on the bench who will surely be needed more if we are going to mount any visible attempt at survival.

In the aftermath of his appointment in November, Coleman made it clear that there would be no money to spend. We all knew that, of course, but hearing it from our manager just made it hit home that much more.

The evidence of this came in the form of our January purchases, which included a keeper as poor as the two we already had and a ‘Target Man’ with precious little presence up top. There’s been no turn around in form; one win in 2018 so far is all you need to know about that.

The way we rolled over and died for the umpteenth time this season means that just about every time we concede, we settle on defeat - a couple of desperately scraped draws being the exception here.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Especially at home, the endless defeats are the reason we are still rooted to the bottom of the Championship. A lot has been said over the course of the season about ‘if Coleman can’t save us, who can?’ and this is a very valid point.

In our situation I would have taken anyone to replace Simon Grayson, so I was chuffed when Coleman of all people signed up. I did think we’d be okay, once he got settled in, but the truth is he has inherited a club which is just too far down the line to be saved.

At this point in time, the Sunderland job must be one of the least desirable jobs in football. It’s hard to blame any potential candidate. After all, would you be able to succeed with a company when the man at the top doesn’t care and the team at your disposal are not up to scratch?

It’s worth remembering - in case you’d forgotten - that Ellis Short hasn’t once spoke to Chris Coleman at any point during the his tenure, and the squad the Welshman has before him is built solely on £1.2 million over the last two transfer windows.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Premier League
Chris? Chris who?
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

So yeah, naturally a manager here would struggle regardless of his accolades, and each manager who has been appointed by Short has come into the club with their own philosophy; the fact we are on the verge of a second straight relegation goes to show they haven’t been able to have much impact. It’ll take more than one passionate manager to turn things around, as Chris Coleman is proving.

One of the more recent of these footballing philosophers, Simon Grayson, admittedly had his work cut out before he even started. He was forced into filling gaps in the squad rather than sign players good enough to get us fighting at the right end of the division. His heart was in the right place, but the Yorkshireman was simply the latest in a line of managers doomed to fail on Wearside; a pattern which doesn’t look like ending anytime soon.

Of course, relegation is far from confirmed - we’re somehow still only four points from safety, after all. Yet it is the inconsistency and lack of fight in too many matches which make us prime candidates for another relegation.

Things are bad at the moment, but life in League One and departure of one of the most passionate managers we’ll ever have will confirm that the slump will not finish once this season is over.