The past three games have summed up exactly what this club is all about. Sunderland AFC, above all others, has always had the ability to find a way to deliver heartbreak from the point where fans have finally started to have hope and belief that we are moving in the right direction.
Anyone who has supported our amazing football club for any length of time will by sheer gut-wrenching necessity have developed a rhino-like skin to put up with the constant failure to deliver a club that reflects the scale and passion of its fan base.
I went to my first match in the 1972-73 season and half a century later I am sitting at a keyboard trying to get my head around a two-week period that plunges the club and its fans back into the depths of despair and despondency.
This was a season that promised that we may finally get ourselves out of the mire of League One. Not clawing and scrambling out but, with a swagger and playing some of the best football we have witnessed for many a year. Instead, we find ourselves managerless, winless against three teams that with respect should have been seen as a chance to bolster our goal difference and drifting seemingly rudderless from a boardroom, which many fans still see as far too opaque given Donald and Methven’s continued participation.
How do I feel? I would love to say numb. Oh, how I would like to be numb to the pain and heartache that watching this team in recent weeks has delivered. Angry yes. I like so many fans are angry that once again we are set to blow any hope of getting back into the Championship. Angry that our billionaire owner hasn’t got the club’s chequebook out and invested in the players to get us out of this mess of a division.
And I’m also frightened for the future of the club. We have a board and senior management that have sacked a manager without any clear plan to replace him. We have a senior management team that with every passing day seems to be showing an ever greater propensity for indecision and inaction.
The hunt for the new manager is indicative of the lack of a plan for the future of the club I have loved for over 50 years. They arrived saying they had a clear vision of how they wanted to play the game and for the way the club would be operated. Yet at the first real test of that vision, they are seemingly unable to make a decision, leaving the dressing room wracked with uncertainty and a caretaker team that has little or no experience of senior management.
The caretaker team look like deer in the headlights unable to make any decisions or changes if things are not going the team’s way – then again LJ’s unwillingness or inability to make changes was part and parcel of his downfall.
It has also created a no win situation for whoever becomes the new head coach. The longer the club dithers the more polarised the fans become on their preferred choice of our new leader in the dugout.
For some it is now Keane or no one. Others believe that the second coming of Keane would be a mistake. What is now clear, and this is purely down to the powers that be at the club, whoever the head coach is there will be a section of the fans who already believe he is not the man for the job.
Yes, whenever there is a managerial vacancy that is the case but I get the feeling that passions have been allowed to build to a point that for some the ability to give the new coach a chance will have passed if it is not their particular choice.
Finally, I am hopeful that by luck or some miracle of judgment a head coach will be appointed this week that will turn things around and we will be singing our hearts out in Wembley having won the play-off final in May. Then again, I’ve always been a dreamer.