Communication from Ellis Short welcome but he must back it up by taking action to improve Sunderland's plight

It will have been at least a touch reassuring for Sunderland fans to see Ellis Short spiky and bristling, even in an in-house interview, at suggestions that he is no longer involved with or cares about the club.

Friday, 3rd November 2017, 8:40 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 10:41 am
Short gave this thoughts on the club's predicament in an interview with the club website

Much of what the owner said, about his ambitions for the club in particular, stood at odds with what has felt like the miserably daily reality this season, watching a squad that even in the second tier has looked largely not fit for purpose.

Nevertheless, direct communication is long overdue and welcome. The top line about finishing seventh in the Premier League is predictably the phrase that has caught the attention of the footballing world but those on Wearside will have been drawn to comments about the situation regarding his ownership.

It is good to finally have on the record his stance on the matter, that he was deeply unconvinced by the German consortium that tried to buy the club in the summer, and that while the club is not actively for sale, ‘credible parties’ will be listened to.

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Some elements of the interview left questions hanging in the air. If Short felt there was no ‘fight’ in the squad last season, why persist with David Moyes rather than take action? After all, Moyes was set to be backed for another season in the Championship before leaving.

Nevertheless, despite the mix of understandable frustration and anger that pervades Sunderland, there does remain an acceptance that Short’s money was badly wasted by those he put his trust in.

The flip side of that, of course, is a number of good managers (and some not so) who left Wearside frustrated, isolated and angry at a lack of backing.

It is a complex picture and one that has ultimately left the club at its lowest ebb for a generation. As the owner and chairman of the football club, Short must take responsibility for that.

Short’s words, however, will be judged by what happens in the next year to eighteen months.

Given the damaging impact of the Premier League excess, the ruinous debt the club faces and the difficulties presented by financial fair play, there is a broad understanding that Sunderland are not in a position to throw money at the squad, particularly at a time when so many players still sit on significant wages and are not offering much on the pitch.

Making the club self-sufficient and putting it on an even keel are admirable goals, but neither will be possible if the club labours in the lower reaches of the Championship or worse.

At the moment the Black Cats are in serious danger of dropping into League One and even accounting for the financial problems, if Short is in anyway serious about restoring the club to the Premier League and the top half, then significant action will be required and before long.

First and foremost he must back Martin Bain to invest in a manager who can arrest the decline in the short and bring new vitality and energy going forward.

Bain, for his part, must deliver at the third time of asking and if the situation prevents him landing a truly proven operator, then at least someone who with the personality and drive to shake things up.

It will not take a great deal to improve the mood but the next appointment must be a statement of intent, and there must some room or manoeuvre both in January and next summer.

The owner also called for all to focus on matters on the pitch. Find a manager and help build a team that delivers results, and few will have any issues doing exactly that.

Short referred to himself as a fan of Sunderland numerous times in this interview. One would hope, therefore, that the current malaise stirs a deep discontent that translates into taking the action required to lift Sunderland from its current slumber.

Without it these words will quickly feel very hollow.