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Reader’s Corner: KLD’s Sunderland project is a marathon, not a sprint

“When we next get to the Premier League - and we will - I want us to stay there. I want us to stay there for a long time. But this can only happen if the club itself is on a solid footing,” writes RR reader Richard Purdom.

Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Whether you agree with their approach or not, Sunderland are - at this moment in time - a club looking towards long term success, rather than short term. On the pitch, and in their finances.

We are a club committed to buying young players, and giving them a route into the team. Some of these players won’t make the grade, some will be sold for a profit, and some will grow with the team. The younger players, becoming our more senior players.

But it’s not enough to just be seen as a club doing right by younger players. We also need to consider what it best for our senior players as well.

When Corry Evans, a player who was so important in our promotion race, and solidifying us in the championship, suffered what could have bee a career ending injury, we extended his contract.

Players like Danny Batth, who may be approaching their last chance for a decent contract at another club, are allowed to explore this. I’m sure the club aren’t actively looking to move him on, but if he gets an offer will not stand in his way.

Not long ago we were a club looked on as a joke. A club for the perennially injured. A club for those wanting an easy ride, for a lot of money. A club that spent £8,000,000 on Papy Djilobodji.

The route that the current ownership are taking is one that should improve our image in the world of football. And that can only be a good thing.

And I can understand the urgency of some fans. Other than the fun and games of last season, we have suffered a fairly bleak decade. Relegation battles, back to back bottom place finishes, and four years in League One will leave the most hardened of fans wanting their taste of glory.

Sunderland v Crewe Alexandra - Carabao Cup First Round Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

But these wasteland years should serve as a stark warning of what happens when a club is not self-sustainable. We weren’t under Ellis Short, and when he refused to bankroll us any further we plummeted. We weren’t under Madrox who, after not getting promoted in that first season seemed to run out of money and ideas.

We have come close to financial ruin on a number of occasions because we were not a self-sustainable club, and the current ownership seem to want to correct that.

And, look, I’m not saying that they are perfect. The striker situation is one that, for a while now, has been untenable, and I sincerely hope they rectify it by the end of the window. And the commercial side of the club is an absolute mess.

But I do believe that the approach they’re taking with the squad will lead to longer term success, even if it takes us a few seasons of Championship football to get there.

The football league is littered with clubs who have gambled on short term success, and failed. Teams who have broken the bank to get promoted and, when this hasn’t happened, returned to find their bank… well… broken.

Sunderland v Crewe Alexandra - Carabao Cup - First Round - Stadium of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

When we next get to the Premier League - and we will - I want us to stay there. I want us to stay there for a long time. But this can only happen if the club itself is on a solid footing.

That means sticking to the financial plan, and recruitment model. It means improving our image, and doing right by both the younger and the senior members of the squad, so that players want to sign for us, and be part of the project.

Things are not perfect at Sunderland, but for the first time in a long while we are seeing improvements. We are seeing the green shoots of something that could be special.

And while we are absolutely in our right to call the club out when they get it wrong, heed the warnings of our recent past, and look at the long term picture - the long term project - over the short.


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