In what seemed like a never-ending cycle of replacing managers, Dick Advocaat was the next in line to depart as Sunderland manager after only eight games of the new season.
After convincing the Dutchman to take on the role at the end of the previous campaign, a winless start to the season and frustration with the club’s transfer business was enough for Dick to leave the club in turmoil - leaving us looking for a sixth manager in four years.
We had started the season poorly, picking up three draws in the first eight games. The team on the pitch looked disheartened whilst their manager looked disillusioned off it.
In truth, Advocaat should never really have returned as his heart did not appear to be fully in it. The pressure from the club to keep him on spoke volumes of the lack of forward thinking and planning that existed within the club itself. Sunderland were in complete turmoil, and Advocaat likely knew it was going to be a rough road ahead.
In strange circumstances, murmurings around the stadium had already developed ahead of our home game against West Ham that Dick was on his way out. Funnily enough, his final game as manager turned out to be one of the better performances under his stewardship where the team took an early 2-0 lead, only to end up drawing. A sublime chip by Jermain Lens almost had Advocaat in tears on the sideline as it appeared obvious that something was brewing in the background in relation to his position.
After the game, the inevitable was confirmed and Advocaat announced his premature departure from the club.
“I want to thank everyone who has stood behind me,” said Advocaat who flew home to the Netherlands on Saturday night after cancelling a scheduled training session on Sunday morning. “This is a very special football club, with so many great people, but I feel it is the right time to do this – not for me but for the club.
“I have made the decision to go after only eight games as I felt it was important to give everyone time to turn things around. I am thankful to the chairman for understanding my feelings and I remain on good terms with everyone at the club. I have some wonderful memories to take with me and I hope I will return to see everybody again in the future.”
Ellis Short appeared to be equally shocked by the news and expressed his disappointment in Advocaat’s decision but also praised him for not seeking any financial settlement upon his departure.
“I am truly saddened by Dick’s decision but I respect him for his honesty and for doing what he feels is right for the club,” said Sunderland’s owner.
“He is a man of integrity and a true football person. He was hugely respectful of the club in taking this decision and he acted 100% in our best interests. It is also testament to his character that he has forgone any kind of a financial settlement, something which is very unusual in football.
“I want to place on record my sincere thanks to Dick. He will be remembered with great affection by everyone at Sunderland and there will always be a warm welcome for him here at the Stadium of Light.”
Advocaat appeared to be one of the good guys and he will always be fondly remembered for consolidating the club’s presence in the Premier League and for the genuine affection he displayed for the club during his time there.
The mad game at Goodison and the draw at Arsenal will live long in the memory. In truth, he appeared to be a decent fella who justifiably didn’t fancy the basket case that our club was at that time.
I mean in fairness - who could blame him?