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How much blame can we appropriate towards Chris Coleman for Sunderland’s demise this season?

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More and more people appear to have surfaced in recent weeks doubting the managerial abilities of Chris Coleman. How much of this season’s demise has been down to him, and is he given too much of an easy ride?

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With relegation to League One looking fairly obvious, the finger pointing has been in full flow. But who should be blamed - is it the players for simply being gutless, or perhaps the hierarchy for signing them in the first place? Is it their poor decisions that have run the club into the ground? A fair portion of it can be appropriated to these two factors, but until recently Chris Coleman has avoided most of the blame.

Is the changing attitude towards the gaffer from some sections of our support fair?

Coleman admitted from day one that he knew full well what he signed up for, and for most of the season he (rightly so) hasn’t been blamed as is usually the case with Sunderland managers these days.

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After all, he had only inherited a squad which had been thrown together by Simon Grayson on a shoe-string budget. Even once the January window closed, Coleman had his hands tied on what sort of players he could bring through the door.

To put this into context, the best we could do in our search for a new centre forward was to make a last-gasp move for Middlesbrough’s fifth choice striker, who didn’t score his first goal for us for over two months - to have expected any of the players we brought in during January to make a big impact would have, in hindsight, been incredibly naive.

It’s been more and more noticeable in recent weeks, particularly on social media, that a section of Sunderland’s support are starting to lose their patience with Coleman - the prevailing opinion being that he’s all talk, with very little else to back it up.

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After Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Leeds there were questions raised regarding why he waited until the 83rd minute to make an impactful change from the substitutes bench. Fresh legs definitely would have given a tiring Leeds defence something extra to think about, but whether it would have made a difference to the end result is anyone’s guess.

One of Coleman’s January acquisitions, Kazenga LuaLua, has found chances limited, with injury restricting the impact he’s been able to have. His record shows he’s capable of packing a punch, yet Coleman seems reluctant to give him game time.

He’s appeared on the bench enough times to surely prove he’s fit enough on at least a few match days; the whole saga seems unusual, especially given the fact it was Coleman who signed him in the first place. It’s too late now, but if LuaLua had been given more game time I strongly suspect we’d have had a few more points on the board.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

At certain points of this season Coleman’s stubbornness when sticking with a system that employs five defenders despite it clearly not being suitable for Sunderland has been incredibly frustrating.

Even when we’ve only have two available centre backs, the trio has been replenished by shoe-horning someone like Billy Jones into the side. Needless to say, this hasn’t worked. Fortunately, Coleman has switched back to a standard four in defence in recent matches and against Leeds we looked visibly more solid.

If it wasn’t for one piece of questionable marking and closing down we’d have probably came away from Elland Road with all three points, and the glass of optimism would be slightly more than half full again.

During the week the Sunderland manager dropped a pretty strong hint that he’d be sticking around next season, and in my opinion not a single Mackem supporter should have any ill feeling towards this.

Of course, there are reasons to point the finger at the former Wales boss for some of his tactical decisions but on the whole it’s of my belief that Coleman is the best man to lead us forward.

Yes, we’ll have to go backwards more before we can push on towards the good times again, but if he is willing to stick it out until the club is under new ownership and with funds at his disposal then there is no reason why Chris Coleman can’t restore pride, honour and integrity back to this football club.