SUNDERLAND fans – in the Echo’s Survey 2011 – have been hugely impressed by owner Ellis Short’s support of the club. Chairman Niall Quinn remains a God to the vast majority of supporters.
And manager Steve Bruce has the approval of most on the terraces after Sunderland finished in the top half of the Premier League table for the first time in a decade.
The widespread backing of the three men at the helm is good news for long-term solidarity at the Stadium of Light in the wake of a season where Sunderland fans had to once again endure plenty of spills and chills in the magic carpet’s latest campaign.
But what is clear from our survey is that there is quite a gap between the levels of backing, with Short enjoying almost universal support, Quinn, not far behind but Bruce still with something to prove.
Asked to rate the three powerbrokers’ season’s out of 10, the most popular choice among fans was to give the American owner 10 out of 10.
Only a handful of supporters scored the billionaire lower than eight.
Almost as good a picture emerged for Quinn in a season where the chairman took a big risk in saying he “despised” Sunderland fans who chose to watch the club’s games in pubs rather than come to the stadium.
Much was made of that comment and many fans aired their unhappiness in the weeks afterwards, but it seems to have done nothing to dent the Irishman’s long-term popularity.
The most common response to rating the chairman was to give him eight out of 10, but the second and third most popular replies were to award him nine and 10 out of 10. The remainder of replies were sixes and fives out of 10 with only a negligible number giving him less.
It was a slightly more complex picture on the manager, though, with ratings of six and seven out of 10 outweighing other judgments by quite some margin.
That has to be seen as a qualified thumbs-up for a season which started so well, tailed off so badly but rallied at the death; a season which saw a horrible defeat and early cup exits, vying with the club’s humbling of champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and the first top 10 finish in a decade for the headlines of the campaign.
Far more fans gave Bruce a five out of 10 than an eight; more gave him a four than a nine and more gave him marks of three, two or one, than gave him 10 out of 10.
More reports and readers’ comments on Ellis Short and Steve Bruce in tonight’s Echo.