Clarity for Sunderland

October 1, 2013 in Premier League by Ben Said Scott

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Some things need to be made clear.

Despite some of the ludicrous protestations that have been made over the last few days I am still 100% sure that if we had kept Martin O’Neill as manager last season Sunderland would have been relegated. I am also sure that very few men would have been able to galvanize the lacklustre squad we had to impressive results against both Newcastle and Everton which were enough to keep us up. Paolo Di Canio managed this feat.Paolo-Di-Canio-Unveiled-As-New-Sunderland-Manager-1797628

Another thing that the media seem to have gotten uppity about is the number of transfers into Sunderland. Lots of parallels have been drawn between us this season and QPR last season. This is very lazy journalism. QPR already had a large squad before signing 12 players. Sunderland simply did not have that luxury. At the beginning of the close season we had roughly 23 first team squad members, however things get worse when you consider Phil Bardsley, Matt Killgallon, Titus Bramble, Danny Graham and James McClean are included amongst those players. All of those left (except Phil Bardsley who was injured before he could be sold) and they all left out of necessity, they simply weren’t good enough. Ahmed Elmohamady and Stephane Sessegnon also were moved on. That taken into consideration there were only 16 players to choose from. 16 players into a Premier League season does not go, we needed an influx.

The other reason our summer was nothing like QPR’s was the disparity between those incoming and those already there that existed at Loftus Road. QPR spent big bringing players in. Fabio, Ji-Sung Park, Jose Bosingwa, Julio Cesar are not names to be on low wages, all came from big clubs were contracts are big and long. By all accounts this disrupted loyal servants at QPR such as Clint Hill, Shuan Derry and Jamie Mackie who had all got QPR into the Premier league in the first place. This is miles away from our big signings, Jozy Altidore, Emmanuele GIaccherini, Modibo Diakite. They will all be on big wages, but bigger than Adam Johnson, John O’Shea and Lee Cattermole? I think not. The dressing room unrest that permeated the QPR relegation season has not been present so far in the Sunderland dressing room.

The last thing that needs to be made clear is that it was definitely time for Di Canio to go. Despite the dressing room being happy with each other it was clear that their togetherness came mostly from their animosity toward the manager. His sacking came directly after a training ground bust up in which some of the aforementioned big players confronted the manager. Following that they complained to both the Chief Executive Margaret Byrne and Director of Football Roberto De Fanti.

Aside from player unrest he also made such bad decisions regarding team selection. He admitted as much because in almost every game he made half time substitutions.  If the team was right from the beginning no changes would be made. His inability to set a team up and his eagerness to rectify his mistakes told dearly in his final match against West Brom. To all intents and purposes Sunderland were playing decently against an unsure West Brom team and a good result looked on the cards. However we weren’t dominating and Di Canio made early changes to the team. This ultimately led to the teams defeat when Steven Fletcher got injured and down to 10 men West Brom overran us.

There was no other option but to get rid of him, even though those calling for his head less than a week ago are now adamant he should have been given more time.

So who to replace the man at the helm?

Well Kevin Ball is Sunderland through and through and did a decent job in the Capital One Cup and should be a good temporary manager, with both Liverpool and Manchester United coming up in our next two Premier League games it is not as if we need the manager desperately; we aren’t exactly expected to get any victories in those two fixtures. So I would like us to spend time searching for the best possible candidate (my personal choice would have been Rene Mulensteen from Manchester United as someone who is highly thought of). However it seems like Gus Poyet has already been chosen as the man to take the helm.

I am slightly worried by this choice. The acrimony that surrounded his last few days in charge at previous club Brighton have still not be cleared up, but there are rumours of terrible cases of out of control players(one involving faeces in the Crystal Palace dressing room during their play-off semi-finals). This could be disastourous if Poyet doesn’t get the players on side straight away. As already mentioned the bigger players in the dressing room were not afraid on turning against Di Canio to great effect.

The last worry is that he has never managed in the Premier League and with the resources he had as Brighton he would of perhaps been expected to achieve what he did at the very least. But of the obvious choices the risk he provides is surely better than going for the steady eddie route of Alex McLeish or Tony Pulis.

Whatever happens over the rest of the season I hope that Sunderland have wiped the slate clean and that clear skies lie on the horizon.