Say it quietly, whisper it even. I’ll admit I’m excited.
I’m excited about the current situation at Sunderland AFC. Excited about the new owners who have finally been given the keys to our club. Excited that Martin Bain has gone and Ellis Short has sold up. Excited that there is finally something to feel positive about. Excited that this new ownership is appointing a young and upcoming manager within just a mere day. Events this week have got people talking about our club again, finally, for all the right reasons.
Listening to Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven outline their plans for the club in the public domain this week has been something of an alien feeling; it has been liberating. We have been met with a wall of silence from the previous regime for so long now that we simply accepted it as the norm.
As supporters, we’ve been drowning in sub-zero temperatures for the vast duration of Ellis Short’s tiresome reign.
This week, Stewart Donald has already managed to break the ice to return us all to the surface. It is the start of a new journey - well, that’s certainly how it’s felt to me. I’ve suffocated in negativity for far too long. To have been able to talk about Sunderland with friends, family and work colleagues in a positive way has been a great feeling.
The takeover this week hasn’t quite been on the scale of Drumaville’s acquirement of Sunderland back in 2006 - and I doubt our new manager will generate the kind of fanfare and media glare as the appointment of a certain Roy Maurice Keane - but to be honest, that doesn’t really matter. We cannot let the past dilute our future. Like Donald and Methven, we can now only concentrate on what lies ahead, and with these two guys at the helm, I can only see a positive outlook on the horizon.
Listening to both Stewart and Charlie this week in interviews, at the press conference on Monday and of course on the Roker Rapport Podcast is the main reason for my optimism.
To bring the good times back here they have to buy into the club, the area, fan base, identity and values. I believe the pair of them are already well on their way to doing that. If Stewart wants us all to have a barbecue while we paint the stadium and replace the seats, then why not?! But seriously, it does have to work both ways.
We as supporters, have to believe and buy into them. This may be a little premature, but I already have. Fan engagement seems to be at the forefront of the new owners’ vision. Donald realises the potential of the club if we can all pull in one direction and finally get it right here after almost a decade in the doldrums.
The probing questions that have been asked this week - the ones designed to extract every little morsel of detail from Donald and Methven - have been dealt with professionally and efficiently. There have been no mealy-mouthed answers or replies. They haven’t ducked a single question or tried to fob us off, and they have been hugely transparent in every single way on every single level. They have stated that will be the case going forward, and long may it continue.
And do you know what? I believe everything they say. We’ve battered our heads against a brick wall for so long now with regards to Messrs Bain and Short, the model that these guys are looking to implement here is an almost extraterrestrial concept. It has only been a few days, but Wearside is stirring once again.
It will of course, like anything, take time. Realistically, we need something like 15 new players. We have a ‘hefty’ budget to allow the new gaffer to shape a squad that can go to Wimbledon or Rochdale on a Tuesday night and get a result. That is the reality.
We are in for another 46-game slog, hopefully fighting at the right end of the table. The cynics will point to the fact that the proof of the pudding is indeed in the eating. The new owners will be judged by events on the pitch, it is as simple as that. We have to trust them to appoint the right manager. I believe them implicitly when they say that the ‘pisstaking’ is over. There will be no ‘Big Time Charlies’. Agents who feel the need to ask for larger salaries for their clients will quite rightly be shown the door. We will not be a meal ticket for mercenaries any longer. Those days are by the sound of it, thankfully long gone.
Steward Donald and Charlie Methven are looking to clear the decks. They want individuals here who want to be at Sunderland AFC.
They aren’t just taking over the club with the aim of bouncing back to the Championship at the first time of asking - that is only part of the mission. They want to implement a whole new culture within the club; they want us all back on side.
Our bitterness and apathy must subside - that was all directed at the old regime. We can finally celebrate the fact that a hugely dark period of our history is over.
A new chapter has opened, and we all need to be fully behind the project. The feeling on Wearside this week suggests that our supporters are, and that can only help our new owners as they sink their teeth into their new roles at the Stadium of Light.
It will, once again, be another eventful summer for us all, and I for one cannot wait to see how it all unfolds.