As we all know, Twitter can be a very strange place. A very strange place indeed. An open, public platform to air your views absolutely freely; so freely in fact that conversation and debate is rarely fluid and structured. More often than not, exchanges quickly descend into chaos, childish quarrelling, bigotry, typical rudeness and downright disregard for another person’s opinion. From behind a keyboard it appears you can say whatever you please; even anonymously if you like, without much fear of any consequence or fear of any retribution. Quite what Plato, Da Vinci or Tesla might have made of it all is anyone’s guess.
No wonder Stewart Donald has removed himself from the Twitter world.
This week, despite problems on the field, I have found it quite refreshing that Donald is back to some extent, engaging with the fan base. For me, a live radio interview is a much better platform than the Twitter stage to provide our supporters with updates and transparency regarding the goings-on at our club.
Whatever he said, it wasn’t going to appease everyone. How could it? Like many, I don’t believe that Stewart Donald is a ‘chancer’, or that he drives around in a yellow three wheel van. Am I gullible? Naïve? Possibly, and time will tell
People will say yes, with emphatic enthusiasm.
I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. We lambasted Ellis Short for his silence and discord when it came to SAFC and its supporters. Short hid himself away for months on end, yet Stewart Donald is a very open book. Sometimes he’s been guilty of being too open, and the finger is quickly pointed at him. We wanted transparency, and when he speaks some label him as a liar. Unfortunately, no-one wins.
You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.
Quite an apt quote I feel. It is another saga in the life of Sunderland AFC and another topic of discussion that will undoubtedly split the fanbase in two. I believe it already has.
We all knew our recent cash injection was a loan; it couldn’t really be anything else. We know that funds are to be spent on the stadium and the academy. Funds for players are there in January ‘if the manager wants them.’ Stewart, it goes without saying that we are going to need every available penny.
It feels to me like the investment is the last gamble for promotion, stick or twist, sh*t or bust. A bonus parachute payment. Our personal air bag to salvage and save what could be a car crash of a season. I highly doubt however there will be another £4m outlay on a striker this winter though - lessons have been learned, and Phil Parkinson will have to be very savvy with any forthcoming funds, however much that will be.
Unfortunately, it is a situation that we have to accept.
Donald’s interview has seemingly distracted us all from our recent troubles on the pitch. It’s as if we’ve all momentarily forgotten that we find ourselves at our lowest ebb; ‘worst results in 140 years of history’, ‘Parkinson won’t see Christmas’ and such like.
We’ve all been left paralysed by his latest comments. Other clubs seemingly don’t go through this, not on the sort of scale that we are accustomed to anyway. We have lurched from one crisis to the next. We can’t get it right on the pitch, struggling to shake of our tag of perennial underachievers.
Some don’t believe that the true facts have emerged with events off the field, and it is their right to think that way. Without doubt, it increases the animosity and distrust among the supporters towards the current hierarchy. It’s as if we’ve got too much to think about; too much to take in, compute, digest and understand. I’ve never known a period like it at SAFC.
Sometimes we genuinely think we’ve seen it all here and yet there are more surprises in store. Great Escapes. Ellis Short. Martin Bain. Netflix documentaries. Chris Coleman. Lee Camp. Back to back relegations. Steward Donald. Wembley defeats. Player recruitment. Jack Ross. Phil Parkinson. When will it all end? When does the latest rollercoaster return to base? It left somewhere around early 2013, and we have all ridden along ever since.
We’ve seen it all, every horror imaginable. Most of it in the last few seasons alone. Yet 30,000 hardy soles still turn up at The Stadium of Light. Thousands travel the length and breadth of the country, following our beloved club, because that’s what we do.
It’s remarkable and never ceases to amaze.
Phil Parkinson needs to find a winning formula on the pitch. That is the more obvious, burning, pressing issue that currently surrounds our club. Don’t let Donald’s latest interview detract from that. It is a temporary distraction from matters at hand.
Parkinson needs a win - any win - to stop the rot, and if that comes in the cup at Gillingham then so be it. Grant Leadbitter’s interview after the defeat at Scunthorpe was an interesting one, and my take was that it alluded to divisions in the camp.
Whether I’m reading too much into that, who knows? Obviously, we need to be still in the hunt come January so that the squad can be strengthened, and when that winter window slams shut, we will have played our final hand. The last roll of the dice. Let’s see where it will take us.
We have to get it right. I refuse to be a prophet of doom - we’ve been through this all before. We are battle hardened; some of us wear our scars with pride. From now until May, we will undoubtedly acquire a few more.
Strap yourselves in - it isn’t time to alight just yet. Our rollercoaster is still motoring on.