Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Norwich, and Reading have all come up against the might of Sunderland in recent weeks and we have managed to lose one and draw three. Each game was winnable.
Had we held our leads against all three sides we would now be talking about a phenomenal escape. Alas, we are not. Why? Well, we all know the reasons - our players are weak mentally, our goalkeepers make costly errors time and time again and we’ve consistently suffered from injuries to key players throughout the entirety of the season.
So, now we are here, on the cusp of a second successive relegation - a demotion to the third tier of English football for only the second time in our history.
But we cant sit here feeling sorry for ourselves, and perhaps the best thing that Chris Coleman can do now is to prepare for the summer and the season ahead.
We are not the first big club to fall into England’s third tier and we certainly won’t be the last. In fact, if you look at the list of teams who have played in the third tier since the turn of the century, many of them have fallen hard only to come back much stronger.
Sunderland’s task is to now rebuild the club from the ground up. But how?
Well if I was the powers that be at the Stadium of Light I would be finding out what sides like Wolves, Leicester, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds did when they managed to hit the bottom only to return back to the Championship far stronger, both mentally and physically.
It also goes without saying that the club needs to bring in players and coaches that have valuable experience of this level. Whatever changes are required the club must look to take - as bad as this situation looks, it’s also the best chance we’ve had in years to rebuild this football club in the mould that many of us would like it to be.
We need to get back to being what Sunderland, at it’s core, truly is. No more spending over the odds on hasbeens and never-have-beens that don’t appreciate what a fantastic club this is, but instead bringing people on and off the pitch to Wearside that recognise our potential and what a fantastic opportunity they have in being with us if they stick along for the ride.
For Chris Coleman, if he is going to stay on as manager, relegation should afford him the opportunity to do exactly what he wants in terms of restructuring the team on the pitch.
Yes, he won’t have a huge budget to work with unless there’s a change of ownership soon, but at this level getting a good blend of hard-working characters from your academy side, the free transfer market and loans from other clubs can give you a solid base from which to work from.
We have an academy full of promising young players and they need to be given every opportunity to flourish next season, whether that be here or at other clubs.
Regardless of what happens on Saturday, the hard work starts now.