As the old saying goes, it never rains but it pours. This is fitting to sum up the last week at Sunderland AFC. On Tuesday, the outcome to the suspended League One season which everyone expected was confirmed. Sunderland were to miss out on the play offs thanks to their dip in form in the middle of the season. As a result, a third straight season in England’s third tier was secured.
Does the club have itself to blame for not being good enough to be in the top six when the season was suspended? Perhaps, but even the most cynical Sunderland fan must have seen that the play offs, and even the top two, were still very realistic outcomes.
Once the dust had partially settled on last Tuesday’s announcement, attention turned to who might be left at the club for the upcoming third stab at getting out of League One.
In the space of what seemed a few hours, it was suggested by the media that Bali Mumba would be sold for a disappointing figure to Norwich City, and then came confirmation that Kyle Lafferty, Sunderland’s most promising striker last season, would not be extending his stay on Wearside.
The Mumba issue is an extension of the woeful mismanagement of the club’s academy in the last couple of seasons. This is an academy which has produced players like Jordan Henderson and Jordan Pickford in the last 15 years. These players moved on with some financial gain for Sunderland when it became clear they could perform at a far superior level.
With Bali Mumba, we have a player who has come through the academy, showed some potential, was given little opportunity in the first team and then was kept in the reserves or on loan at South Shields. He could have become an important piece in the puzzle, but it looks like we shall never know.
He’s now on the verge of joining an ever-growing list of youth players moved on at the first chance given to the club. Selling youth players on so quickly, and for below what could be a much higher price, shows a total lack of interest in planning for the future. Buying players past their prime and having no intention of piecing together a side which could stay together for more than a year is seemingly the way this regime is taking the club.
Mumba is a promising player; the only reason people might think otherwise is that he hasn’t been given a chance at Sunderland thus far. He has been shoehorned in at full back for the under 23s side and most recently scored twice in three appearances on loan at South Shields. Just five senior appearances for Sunderland is not enough time to judge his ability. The fact that he has represented England at four different age levels shows that footballing people outside of Sunderland can see his potential.
Kyle Lafferty leaving is frustrating, but it was expected given the northern Irishman’s age and that he only signed a short-term deal to start with. However, Mumba is a very different story. Selling one of the clubs most promising young players for an amount which will prove to be a drop in the ocean is just another reason for Sunderland supporters to despise the clubs owner.
Stewart Donald is taking the club for a ride.
His silence in not just the last week but the last several months (before the pandemic lockdown, obviously) is deafening, as well as bringing back memories of Ellis Short and his non-existent channels with supporters.
The fans have had enough, are demanding change, and deserve better.