It’s a shame Jack Ross wasn’t the answer to the question “who will get Sunderland out of League One?”. He’s a decent bloke who talks a good game and I hope he goes on to succeed somewhere else, but it clearly wasn’t working for him at Sunderland and I’m glad decisive action has been taken at a point in the season when we can still turn things around and aim for promotion.
So, what next?
I’ve been reflecting on a couple of things recently which help provide the answer. One was a recent podcast featuring Keiron Brady. The former wing wonder was scathing about the long-term cultural problems at the club, which require a big personality to come in and change things from top to bottom.
For all that’s happened since relegation it’s clear that those problems have not been properly addressed and our management has still not imposed the standards necessary to create a winning culture that can be sustained through tough patches in addition to when things goes well.
Brady was right, as well, that we fans have too often not insisted on high standards. It’s true that we sometimes talk about players who “always give 100%” as if that’s a desirable extra, not an absolute bottom line. Well I’m fed up of bad days at the office, dips in form, and players needing a break. We need a squad which is ruthless in its desire to succeed, not determined to make it to the next pay cheque.
Was fifth good enough last season? Not really. Is seventh good enough now? No. Is being comprehensively beaten at Peterborough and Lincoln something we have to accept as part of our journey through League One? No.
There’s nothing arrogant about saying we need to be better than this, that we should be aiming for promotion, should be aiming for 100 points.
It’s nothing to do with our history or our fan base and it’s no disrespect to the rest of the league, but the culture at Sunderland should be one of aspiring to win, everything, all the time.
“Second is nothing, second is nowhere” was the mantra which drove Bill Shankly to build a winning culture at Liverpool: we need the same.
The next managerial appointment can be the start of a climb back to the Premier League, one in which a winning mentality is born and we can finally regain some pride in the club, or it can be another tick in the box of “good enough for Sunderland” which isn’t good enough for me.