I got home from Stoke on Saturday evening and my wife asked me how Sunderland had got on. She hates football, but even she can identify just how poor we are.
“They never win, do they?” is generally the response. In all the years we’ve been together this is the first time I’ve said to her that I’m beginning to wonder what the point in going is.
“We’d save a bit of money if you didn’t,” came the response. She’s right, and maybe I’d save a lot of stress too.
This is what we’ve become. A hobby that drains the finances as well as the soul.
Looking over to the away end on Saturday there were 3,000 lads and lasses singing their hearts out. It felt as though they were not only trying to drive the team on, but also amuse themselves. They have to make an element of the day at the actual football worthwhile, because the offering on the pitch is absolutely pitiful. Singing Victor Anichebe’s name for 20 minutes non stop says an awful lot about where we are right now.
David Moyes was probably right when he said we were decent in the first half. We were probably the better side for the opening 25 minutes of the game. It counts for absolutely zilch though when you can’t defend the most basic of situations.
Defenders are given two or three opportunities to clear the ball but can’t. They can’t put a clear firm head onto a cross. They leave the biggest opposition threats completely unmarked. Teams don’t have to play well to beat us, they merely have to appear and we’ll take care of the rest for them.
At 1-0 we probably had a chance. There was something to go at. At 2-0, it’s game over. The second half was a total irrelevance, and you feel Stoke took the foot of the gas slightly and that crept into their finishing.
Pickford was once again far too busy, unguarded by a injury-depleted, talent-deficient back line. There’s a player in there that cost £8m and isn’t even fit to lace Santiago Vergini’s boots. Awful.
This is just the start for Moyes at Sunderland. He’s had 10 competitive games in charge and he’s desperate for time, desperate to make an impression. In turn, it’s been desperate for us too. Desperate defending, desperately light going forward and desperately disorganised.
This isn’t the start for us. We’ve put up with this for the best part of four seasons and people are starting to lose patience.
Loyal supporters are starting to question the point. They’re weary, they could be doing anything else with their time. Unfortunately for many of them, they can’t give up on the lads because it would be like losing part of them. The investment of time and money with little or no return for years and years has to yield something positive soon, right?
There needs to be an element of understanding of this from Moyes and the club, otherwise people are going to lose the faith completely. Then apathy sets in. I’ve seen a generation of fans demoralised before during the 19 point season, compounded by the 15 point season, and those wounds are still healing. The offering over the last few years is doing nothing to help that.
Sunderland must win at West Ham next week, otherwise I fear the final 29 matches will be as irrelevant as that second half on Saturday.