It pains to be a Sunderland fan. It really does. For the misery we’ve all had to collectively endure over the last five years, the last few days surely represent a nadir for the club. It’s conceivable to say that this point has yet to be reached. After all, who’s to say it can’t get any worse and we miss out on the play-offs altogether, with the club consigned to yet another season in the third tier. For a club with Premier League level infrastructure, this is a prospect that is wholly unacceptable and a dismal reflection of those in charge.
Despite the excellent form in December, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was always a little nervous about when (not if) the inevitable slump would come. The past few years have taught us that Sunderland are consistently inconsistent and that anything can happen. You only need to look back to October, when I was at Portsmouth for a performance that was almost as appalling as the weather on that day on the south coast. Just ask anyone else who was there.
That said, the return of Defoe and the continued stream of rumours surrounding Roy Keane’s potential return to the club had provided all of us with renewed optimism. Turning to legends from the past, all of our nostalgic senses have been tingled a little in the hope that this will deliver the final push needed to get the club on the right track again and ultimately, out of this wretched division.
Outsiders have questioned the sacking of Johnson, but was he really the man to take us up? With the lottery of the play-offs proving our downfall over the years, this was a gamble that I’m sure many of the fans were willing to take if it improved our chances of going up automatically.
This is why the last few days have been so disheartening. From going into the weekend against Doncaster full of expectation, in front of a crowd of over 38,000 at the SoL, we have now dropped to fourth in the league, having lost three games in a row against sides in the bottom half of the league. With the club now looking over their shoulders, the dream of automatic promotion is becoming more distant as this nightmare era in the club’s history threatens to drag on for another year.
The club is of course still reeling from the terrible mismanagement of the club under Ellis Short (despite his best intentions) and it is clear that poor decision-making is still an issue. The lack of planning around Lee Johnson’s replacement is glaring and should we fail to bring in Keane, I dread to think what the outcome of the 2021/22 season will be.
The mentality around the club has to change too, which is why, despite his flaws, Keane can be the perfect man to take the reins and provide new energy and backbone to this team. There is too much talent being squandered and some zeal is desperately needed.
You have to wonder what is the point anymore. However, as much as we all ask ourselves as fans as to what we did to deserve to be brought up supporting Sunderland, the passion for the club will never die. All we crave for is a team and a club that is successful again and it would only be justice to the mad devotion of the fans we have.