Being a Sunderland fan in recent years has been a miserable affair to say the very least.
Ellis Short’s recipe for success was to sack the manager, instate a new one and expect a miracle to happen. For a short while it worked, with Sunderland pulling off a great escape under the management of Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet, Dick Advocaat and Sam Allardyce.
This vicious circle that Sunderland were trapped in came to a frankly foreseeable conclusion when David Moyes led us to relegation into the Championship.
As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, our last season was shambolic and saw us fall further into League One.
The last couple of seasons have been dreadful - there is clearly an unspoken attitude problem amongst some of the players, whereby some clearly don’t want to play for us (I’m thinking in particular about a certain player’s Instagram story advertising his “skills”).
Furthermore, we had an owner who demonstrated a clear lack of idea as to how to run a club. So why is this season promising to be different from the misery of the last few years?
Much-needed structural changes are being made
After relegation from the Championship there was a complete upheaval of backroom personnel, with the likes of Martin Bain and Ellis Short departing the club.
Ellis Short was often rightly cited by fans as the source for Sunderland’s woes and misery over the past decade, with the BBC estimating that under his ownership we only won 27.6% of our home games.
The money lost through his poorly-made decisions had a massive impact upon the club as transfer funds were rapidly reduced. Although at times he was presented as stubborn when making decisions at the club, Short did the right thing at the end of his ownership by wiping away Sunderland’s staggering debts to pave the way for new owner Stewart Donald and his consortium.
Stewart Donald has one thing Short didn’t, and that’s actual experience of owning a football club. Donald was owner of Eastleigh FC, which hopefully means he actually has some idea about how to run this club in a manner that will allow us to thrive.
Finally - a plan for the future!
Under Stewart Donald’s short ownership, we’ve already seen a huge buzz of activity at the club. Manager Chris Coleman departed to be replaced by former St Mirren boss, Jack Ross.
Ross seems to be the ideal candidate for the job, and has proved that he’s capable of leading a team to promotion - he did so with St Mirren in the 2017/18 season.
Furthermore, Ross seems to understand the team’s needs, and there’s been a flurry of transfer activity - although that does seem to have quietened in the last week or so.
So far there have been six signings made for the first team and two for the U23s squad, three of these signings being defenders, showing that the gaffer is keen to address Sunderland’s long term defensive problems.
We’re bringing back pride
Sunderland’s new regime have made it very clear that they want to implement an ethos of pride in playing for Sunderland again. Although we’ve heard managers, CEOs and owners say this before, this time it does seem genuine.
Everybody’s favourite England wannabe Jack Rodwell had his contract terminated and left the club having barely played for four years, but still picked up his £70,000 wages every week. This underlines the determination for a fresh start for the club.
Although I may be getting ahead of myself regarding Sunderland, I truly believe this season is one to get a bit of belief back into our club.
There’s a different air about Sunderland compared to the past decade of relegation scraps and survival. This time is a truly fresh start for Sunderland, instead of just getting rid of the manager and expecting a miracle, we’ve got a new owner with a new ethos, and a new manager who’s proven capable of securing promotion and started an expulsion of poor attitudes in the dressing room.
Hopefully this won’t be a repeat of previous seasons, hopefully we can reinstate some pride and success in our club.