The camera pans back once again to the Scottish man deep in the throes of his male pattern baldness, adorning a reputably branded watch in the centre of the camera’s peripheral, pleading to no one that he was doing everything he can and - of course - that we simply ‘are where we are’.
Some suspect this particular timepiece is of a different make and style to the one they witnessed three minutes prior in this very same room amid the very same crisis of a transfer saga, but such thoughts are fleeting as the watcher, football fan or not, Sunderland fan or not, looks on as names are scribbled on and off of whiteboards, fruitless meetings are held and concluded and scouts dart back and forth from Scunthorpe to observe a standard of player meeting the budget but not the expectation.
This was the romanticized reality of Sunderland Till I Die Season 1: the tale of Martin Bain and his self-portrayed battle against all odds, asking himself all the hard questions only to subsequently give himself an ambiguous (and ultimately useless) answer in the same breath.
But, as many of us will know, no good series is complete without its various sub-plots to keep its audience immersed. Far removed from Bain, the implicitly self-proclaimed protagonist, and further still from the leeches and mercenaries we saw in Jack Rodwell and Lewis Grabban, we saw a side to our city and our fans that I felt nothing put pride for.
Season one of the documentary gave the world over an insight into the beating heart of an entire culture and community, the keystone to a bridge destined to crumble otherwise. Everyone got the chance to see what Sunderland Association Football Club means to the people of Sunderland: the everyday working men and women who see themselves in the club they support. Their resilience, surely, should be recognised as an unparalleled force; beaten and bruised though they may be from years of managerial incompetence, not even a double relegation would be enough to douse the flame burning brightly within the Mackem faithful. They marched on. They toiled. They persevered.
It’s due to all of these aforementioned reasons that my feelings towards the release of Sunderland Till I Die Season 2 are mixed and confused. Undoubtedly the tale will once again end on the sourest of notes for Sunderland, with candidates ominously able to fill the shoes and wristwatch strap of Martin Bain along the way, but also there exists another golden opportunity for our fans to be represented in a light befitting their dedication.
There were plenty of controversies witnessed by Sunderland fans in the 2018/19 season without the intervention of a Netflix documentary: in real time we caught a glimpse of the hurdles Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven faced, with general consensus being that the manner in which the two conducted themselves was less than satisfactory in spite of the gravity of the challenge.
Naturally, whatever is revealed to the general public will be amplified tenfold by the dramatics of modern video editing, so I certainly don’t look forward to the wider footballing community using this as ammunition to berate and mock us once again.
How is the Will Grigg fiasco going to look when we watch it back? What other mishaps occurred behind the scenes that we’ve hitherto being ignorant of? I don’t honestly know and I don’t really look forward to finding out.
The events on the pitch don’t leave me feeling an awful lot better than the events which transpired off it, either. While we can look forward to watching a team of players we know care about the club and wanted nothing more than for it to succeed for everyone involved, that will come as the sole upshot of two Wembley defeats.
But speculation on this topic is for both the pessimist and the optimist. I shouldn’t be so quick as to let myself forget that the 2018/19 season features far more Sunderland wins than it does losses and, as previously mentioned, our team’s identity will be pioneered by a manager and squad that the fans did (and still do) have an awful lot of admiration and respect for. I’d love to see the cameras pan to an ecstatic Luke O’Nien wheeling away from a beaten ‘keeper or a battlecry from Max Power, galvanizing the rest of them.
There is so much potential here and I hope its capitalised on.
Then there are the fans themselves, of course. They’ll do themselves justice once again.
Overall, I just don’t know how I feel. There are plenty of reasons to be apprehensive about the portrayal of our club and plenty more to look forward to it. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.