Any port (or should that be Porto) in a storm. In a season that has been hard to stomach, one of the few bright spots had been the Under-23s reaching the final of the Premier League International Cup.
But while the young lads deserve a hell of a lot of credit for getting as far as they did, the outcome was in line with the horrid senior campaign we have had to endure – a 5-0 humbling at the Stadium of Light against Porto.
The young Black Cats were simply outclassed by the Portuguese outfit, the difference in the two sides there for all to see.
Don’t get me wrong, victory for Sunderland’s Under-23s wouldn’t have cured what ails the Wearsiders.
However, it would have been nice to have something to cheer for a change.
Still, it wasn’t to be and defeat in an Under-23 competition is the least of our worries.
In something of a medical miracle in the past week or so, boss David Moyes has developed a backbone and called out his players – too little, too late.
At times, for me, some of these players look like they are conning a living out of the club and fans.
It’s not that long ago we were all (me included) taking the delight in the Pirate celebrations of Fabio Borini.
But the current campaign has brought to light another side of the player – one where he is quite clearly playing for himself and not his team or club.
Of course, the Italian is not alone – there are others who have not only failed to shine, but failed to put a shift in.
I’ve said it plenty of times, as Sunderland fans we can forgive a lack of quality, we can forgive a lack of skill, but what we can’t stomach is going down without a fight, not giving your all.
And there have been far too many players in recent seasons who were there for the pay cheque and not for the love of it.
I’m not naive, football is a business and for players it is their profession. You can kiss the badge all you want, but if the cheque gets a little bit bigger then it won’t be long before the emblem being kissed has changed.
But surely, professional pride, the massive wages, the lifestyle it affords you, thousands upon thousands of people paying their hard-earned cash to follow you the length and breadth of the country to worship you, demands effort.
It’s easy to say get rid of the lot of them and start again, but in reality that’s a recipe for disaster and would see us slip further down the football pyramid.
Having said that, something has to give.
Sunderland have been searching for the secret to success for almost all of the past decade in the Premier League, and if we are being honest we don’t seem any nearer.
It’s a tough time to support the lads, but then again when was it ever easy?
- Gary Foster
The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction from David Moyes. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes