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Are you more optimistic or still thoroughly depressed having watched Sunderland on Saturday?

“It’s getting to that point in the season where I’d rather have my balls closely trimmed by a rabid badger than watch our players fall about the pitch like a bunch of charity match participating competition winners on ket”... our panel discuss Saturday’s draw.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Tom Atkinson says...

Things just aren’t good enough, are they? This past weekend’s performance was an improvement on those that preceded it, but it still falls far from where we would hope for the club to be.

I think fans have every right to be gutted. We’ve been promised a lot by the current ownership over the past 18 months. However, after a decent campaign last year that came on the back of a huge rebuild, we now look like an absolute bang average League One side. As such, fans have a right to feel aggrieved by that. We have superior resources in comparison to almost every other club in this league. Fans aren’t being unreasonable, they just have standards that simply aren’t being met.

Saturday’s game was okay in spells, but rubbish in others. The same issues exist in that we lack pace, creativity, and balance throughout the team. There’s just no concerted identity, and we look timid at times. I could go into real detail here, but one massive example of this issue is the huge amount of space that lies between midfield and attack. It’s been an issue all season, and yet we still haven’t addressed it. It’s simple stuff that’s letting us down and that reeks of a lack of strong leadership throughout the club.

We should have hired a CEO and Director of Football this past summer to take the rebuild forward and implement a long-term, sustainable strategy. Unfortunately, we look like a rudderless ship at present.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Phil Butler says...

Erm... I guess it was a bit better.

To be perfectly honest I’m becoming more and more apathetic with watching Sunderland at the minute, and genuinely dreaded having to leave the house to go watch the match. Sunderland’s performance did nothing to change my mind.

I’m not concerned about Parkinson not turning up to a press conference, or Chris Maguire having a McFlurry after an away game. What does concern me, however, is Sunderland’s slide into League One mediocrity. The style of football, and the results, point to nothing other than a team - and a club - who are going nowhere.

On the pitch, Sunderland represent the state of play off the pitch - a group of players with no real style of play to hold them together. Sunderland are a squad of individuals. Charlie Wyke thrives off long balls and crosses, Will Grigg off early balls over the top. The midfield lacks creativity, and the wide players look to score themselves rather than create.

Phil Parkinson showed on Saturday that his drab and boring football is part of the problem, even when it gets “decent results” like a draw against a top four side, but a new manager would be left with the same disjointed group of individuals.

For me, Saturday simply highlighted the lack of planning that’s gone into Sunderland’s recruitment - both of managers and players - over the past 18 months.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sean Brown says...

It’s getting to that point in the season where I’d rather have my balls closely trimmed by a rabid badger than watch our players fall about the pitch like a bunch of charity match participating competition winners on ket. So when I watched Saturday, I was aware it was nothing more than self harm. I didn’t feel anything but despair from start to finish and it wasn’t because the lads weren’t putting more effort in (as some seemed to be really trying) but more a case of “I’m sick to f**king death of this”.

The managerial situation is tiring, the lack of leadership from the chairman is tiring, the apparent lack of a proper setup and structure at the club is tiring. The players look more depressed than me a few hours deep into a drink-fuelled “in memory of me da” playlist…

Charlie Methven once said “Football... is meant to be fun”. Then he ran screaming from the funhouse a month later to take up knocking on doors asking people to vote Brexit... which, when you think about it, means the situation at the club must be pretty dire if that’s a more fulfilling and rewarding experience than wandering the premier concourse at the SoL of an evening, drinking endless free pints, smoking cigarellos and raving to old tunes he heard in Ibiza a couple decades ago. I mean I have no idea if he did that, but I would. Probably.

Point is, its just not fun. As a fanbase we are used to losing.

As Hunter Thompson once wrote: “Calm down... learn to enjoy losing” - and by the Gods we’ve tried like. We’ve even succeeded for extended periods of time, largely thanks to chemicals and a dark sense of humour. Alas, no more. Now what we need to see is change.

We need to see the intent of our owner now more than ever, and we need him to do everything promised. We need hope right now and we can see none.

It’s a sad time to be a Sunderland fan, lads and lasses, a dark time indeed... and there’s a badger waiting for me. Think I’ll go get this over with.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Craig Davies says...

Sunderland’s draw against the fifth-placed Seasiders was deeply unsatisfactory, though for a squad that desperately needs a win from anywhere it wasn’t the total misery-fest of recent weeks we’ve come accustomed to. Unless my eyes deceived me there was tiny but seemingly obvious evidence of slight improvement - but let’s be fair, the bar has been set so low that an ant covered in lube could barely squeeze underneath it.

For me, only a win against Blackpool would have bought Parkinson any kind of patience from the baying crowds but a point and some improved effort from his fractured squad may buy him some time from the firing squad.

Stewart Donald was there on Saturday, watching from the comfort of the directors box, and he must be in the midst of the worst era of squeaky bum time in the club’s history.

His decision-making gambles have certainly contributed to the toxicity and malaise that wraps itself around the club like a poison. I wonder if he regrets pulling the Ross trigger and reloading with a Parkinson bullet that is largely firing blanks.

But despite the pressure mounting, Wyke returned and added a little will and brute force as limited as he is. His equaliser emboldened us a little and we looked for a while like we would finally break the curse and score a winning goal. But Dobson’s red was enough to halt the this fragile team’s marginal improvement and maintain the recent record of dire mediocrity.

Parkinson has much to do over Christmas and I’m not talking planning for January, I mean just surviving a hectic festive season that could see us drop below 12th, already the lowest league position in our history. Yes fans are angry and frustrated but their expectations aren’t unreasonable either. They’re watching a squad with little pace, a minimal amount of flair and creativity, very little cohesion and on some occasions barely any effort either.

Saturday had all the hallmarks if dull mediocrity and stupefying averageness with only a few rays of rapid sunlight. But it’s not enough - nowhere near enough.

Improved? Yes. Good enough? Absolutely not.

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