The rebuilding job at Sunderland was looking like it was going all to plan. New manager, new owners and a feeling that we’d have a squad with good balance of new signings and youth from seasons gone by. Unfortunately, it seems very few of the current crop of Sunderland players wants to stick around, and as a result this shows that loyalty and pride is a dying factor in the world of football.
It is no secret that a large majority of our squad wants to be elsewhere next season. It was perhaps overly optimistic to think that we’d have a core of our team together after the transfer window closed - even if we did expect a host of signings in the wake of a new manager and owners. We’ve had a bit of a reality check, though, after the news that only a handful of players have expressed any form of desire to remain on Wearside - but it is a timely reminder that no player is bigger than the club.
To know that some of the older players want to be away isn’t surprising - and in many cases it is welcomed. However, the club has given a good number of academy graduates a chance in the first team, and the fact that some will have made it clear they don’t want to be part of the new order at Sunderland is somewhat upsetting.
I’m not saying that these youth players owe us the world, but for us to give them a first team chance only for them to jump ship at the first time of asking frankly stinks.
The rumours will fly around over the summer about players who will move on, and at the end of the day it will be best if these players who want to leave do so as soon as possible. Many fans, myself included, have misjudged how much some of these players want to play for Sunderland.
My logic was that they have been part of the Sunderland set up for many years and this would have given them a desire to play for the shirt; this has ended up being an incredibly naïve opinion perhaps borne from the fact that many of us would give almost anything in order to pull on the red and white stripes of our beloved club.
Regardless if you felt we’d keep the bulk of our squad together or not, it is now time to accept that there is about to be a huge turnover in players over the summer. Last season our players did not have the stomach for a scrap to stay in the Championship despite some more improved performances in April and May.
I suppose that the argument could be made that if they didn’t have the bottle for a championship scrap then there’s little chance they’d be able to cope in a much more physical division next year. In this sense then perhaps it’s a blessing that the players who don’t want to be here have made their decision clear.
However, that being said, it’s still quite disappointing to think how eager they are to just pack their bags and leave. It confirms that there is even less loyalty around than I’d thought.
Nevertheless, like already mentioned, no footballer is bigger than a club. If they want to move on and try to get a bigger move (or pay check) then we should let them go. It looks as though Paddy McNair could be on his way in the coming days, and he won’t be the last man out the door this summer.
We won’t have many familiar names around next season, but if we finish top of the pile next year you won’t hear many complaints. It’s disappointing that so many seem so happy to head for the exit, but perhaps it’s for the best.
Sunderland need an overhaul in terms of the attitude and ambitions harbored by the players wearing the sacred shirt, and this mass overhaul, if undertaken properly, could be just what we need in order to find future success. We’ve said this multiple times over the last few years; however, our position in the third tier of English football coupled with this summer’s mass exodus could well be the conditions required in order to create a winning culture and positive future. Onward and upward!