Boxing Day - a day which is always a stand out on the calendar for football fans.
In the past three months I’ve gone from living in the heart of East Durham to moving way down across the border in Aberystwyth. It was the first home match I’ve been able to attend since the end of August. I’d heard plenty about how things under Phil Parkinson were going south, but I had to see it to believe it.
A fixture against Bolton - a team which very nearly went under in the summer and has been patched together since - should have been the chance to restart our campaign. What occurred was 90 minutes of dire, lacklustre football which lacked little to no game plan. The only thing which made this contest bearable was the pre and post match pints.
Bolton came, dug in and got what a tough defensive display deserved. If not for some sharp saves from Jon McLaughlin, the visitors could have added another nail into Sunderland’s coffin.
Recent results have been woeful, but the fact that this match was the final straw for many fans is completely understandable. Five at the back and two defensive midfielders, one being at the near end of his playing days, is the decision-making of a manager who has lost the plot. This squad isn’t the best, but it should be performing much better than the 15th place position we currently occupy.
In the space of 12 months we have gone from being full of optimism, winning matches and at least pushing towards promotion to being on a run of no wins in nearly two months. What’s concerning is the only victories which Parkinson has chalked up are against sides in the bottom three. He needed to get his third win on Boxing Day, but his tactical ineptitude has led to a long-drawn-out run of very poor performances, and a club continuing its agonising destruction process.
The 0-0 draw against the team almost certain fir relegation is shocking. Failing to break down a team in Bolton’s position not once but twice this season is nothing short of embarrassing.
Things won’t improve, or at least they can’t with Parkinson at the helm. With a tough run of games coming up we really needed to beat Bolton. We haven’t and as a result could set a new lowest league position for the third match day in a row.
Will things change soon? It’s become more of a wish than expectation by now.