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Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Papa John’s Trophy Final

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Sunderland & Newcastle’s owners will approach the future from opposite directions

Nil desperandum, auspice Kyril.

Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

For anyone with mates that are Newcastle United fans, your Facebook feed in the last few days will have been a Maggie-fest... you have my sympathies!

First of all, let’s have a bit of perspective, this would have all felt so much worse had Sunderland not had their own change in ownership, and subsequently, change in leadership both off and on the pitch.

Imagine, if we were not able to see a long-term vision coming together, this last few days may have been agonising for all Mackems in the face of the so-called happy ‘Geordie Nation’ at this moment.

But hope springs eternal in Wearside these days, there is a long hard season ahead but we are turning a corner and potentially setting the foundations for the next five years and beyond.

Okay, so, money talks in football but there are no guarantees either. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the coming decade for North East football echoed the 1950s, but in role reversal.

1950 TREVOR FORD
Travor Ford - one of Sunderland’s unsuccessful “Bank of England” side of the 1950s

For those that know their football history, they will know at the start of the 1950s, Sunderland were the big spenders of English football.

The club heavily backed by wealthy Wearside shipyard owners, earned Sunderland the nickname “The Bank of England Club”. An early version of Chelsea and Manchester City of the last two decades.

Well, armed with some of the most expensive British talent including, the then record signing, Len Shackleton the ‘Clown Prince’ and the deadly Welsh marksman Trevor Ford up front, Sunderland expectations were obviously sky-high.

By contrast, Newcastle had only recently regained their position back in Division One, finding their feet again and a far more prudent outfit.

However, it was the Black and Whites that would lift the FA Cup three times in five years while Sunderland, time and again, were nearly men.

Sunderland’s big spending, empty trophy cabinet, in-house hostilities and scandals eventually brought the club crashing down.

Newcastle United v York City FA Cup Semi-Final Replay
Newcastle playing an FA Cup Semi Final at Roker Park in the 1950s
Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson once used Sunderland’s spending and ultimate demise during the 1950s as a warning for Real Madrid in the early 2000s, and all other overspending clubs.

As I said earlier, its time for some perspective. Sunderland finally have the continuity and structure they have lacked since the departure of Niall Quinn. Our model is now based around youth, and that is where our reputation will grow. This summer saw us attracting great young potential from Premier League clubs instead of losing our academy prospects in the opposite direction.

Sunderland’s new exciting owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus is determined to make the club sustainable and therefore profitable. We have a sporting director who nurtured possibly the hotest young prospect in Europe (that even includes Mbappé), Jude Bellingham.

In Lee Johnson we have a manager with potential to grow with the club, who has shown his desire to invest his time and faith in youth.

We may be in League One, but it could prove to be the perfect place to cement our new structure.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Papa John’s Trophy EFL Trophy
Dan Neil and Sunderland’s young guns are our future
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

While on Tyneside, what are the new owners likely expectations? If it’s anything like the fans, it may be a desire for instant success, big names and big price tags. Clubs like Manchester City want results, they expect progress and in pursuit of those, youth development is sacrificed.

Sunderland and Newcastle both want the same, ultimately; to be competitive and winners at the top of English football again. But its apparent they are likely to approach that from opposite directions.


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