David Preece: No direction and little hope ... feels like Groundhog Day again for Sunderland
I love Groundhog Day. Have you seen it? The film starring Bill Murray where his character relives the same day over and over. Brilliant isn't it?
If you haven’t seen it, I’ll give you a quick synopsis. Murray’s character, TV weatherman Phil Connors, somehow becomes stuck in a continuous loop of the same 24-hour period and believes he’s been imprisoned in some kind of purgatory until he eventually realises rather than being stuck in hell, he has actually been handed the chance to right all his wrongs. So he does.
All sounds a bit familiar at Sunderland, apart from the part were he realises that he has a chance to change the status quo.
It’s an awakening. An epiphany. A game changer. It’s exactly what’s needed to rescue what’s left of this season. Where it will come from though, is anyone’s guess.
Look at the teams we’re up against. Realistically, we’re can look as far as Leicester City.
The teams above last season’s champions not only have enough of a safety net, they’re also capable of getting a result one way or another.
Burnley are a tough team to beat at home as we’ve discovered. Bournemouth play some good football, as do Southampton. And Watford’s superior goal difference probably means their three-game swing will prove too much to be catchable.
Then there are those directly above us.
Leicester’s worst fears have been realised and they have the look of a mountaineer who has reached Mount Everest’s peak before losing their footing.
Despite his own goal being chalked off because of an infringement, the look on Wes Morgan’s face was that of helplessness and surrender.
Their motivation seems to have died as quickly as the defence of their title did, and even though they should have enough quality once Mahrez and Slimani arrive back this week, they’re snowballing towards the end of the season.
Of the bottom seven clubs, Middlesbrough have by far the most impressive defensive record.
Compare their meagre 25 goals conceded to our own 42 and there’s your reason right there why they might be able to scrape enough points together to stay up.
They might have scored fewer goals, but what’s the point of scoring a goal if you’re just as likely to concede two as we do?
Paul Clement is highly-regarded coach within the game and Swansea’s win over Liverpool at Anfield will have boosted their confidence no end.
Not only that, the psychological lift you get from lifting yourself out of the bottom three makes a huge difference to the morale of the club.
Crystal Palace haven’t seen an upturn in results since Big Sam was installed, but you would never bet against him keeping them up, would you?
The damage done by the his ejection from his office at St George’s Park seems to have dented the bravado he swept into the Stadium of Light with, but he still has history on his side.
Regardless of Paul Merson and Phil Thompson’s premature opinions, Hull have got themselves a young, smart, hungry manager who is desperate to do well and having talked to a couple of their players, he’s having a positive effect over the squad. Two wins in the last five games gives them a glimmer of hope for the fans to cling on to.
And then there’s us. Groundhog Day FC.
Prior to Sam Allardyce’s appointment, I spoke of a need to raise the ground and start from scratch. To build a side worthy of the club, and Allardyce began to do that. He gave the club its identity back and the players began to resemble a team and not the patchwork quilt it had become.
Now, we’ve reverted back to that situation again and it feels like there’s no purpose, no clear direction and little hope.
Now you might say that sounds defeatist, but there aren’t any sounds coming from the club that are any different.
No money to spend from an owner whose race has run. There’s little in the way of fight from a manager whose realism comes over as being too honest.
When it first became known Moyes had seemingly been lured into the job on the back of false promises made to him, you had to have sympathy with him.
Add the number of injuries to crucial players and it has been an uphill task from the start. But perhaps we’ve been sold short too.
Perhaps we were expecting more fighting talk, more defiance rather than an acceptance of the situation.
Reading back the prospects of other club’s survival chances and our own, there is little cause for optimism.
On the basis of Joleon Lescott coming to the club, David Moyes’s declaration that any new signings won’t make a significant difference rings true.
While there’s no doubt Lescott has been a good defender in the past, we are signing a player who picked up an injury while biking, meaning he only played four games for AEK Athens this season, and ended up negotiating his own release from Greek football.
To expect him to be up to Premier League speed would be expecting too much and again, if he is used it’s as a sticking plaster rather than a cure, but there are defenders out there who can make a difference now and have a future at the club.
They won’t thank me for saying it, but Barnsley have been unearthing talent from the lower leagues and selling them on these past few seasons and they have two young central defenders in Marc Roberts and Angus MacDonald who are destined for bigger things and wouldn’t cost the earth.
Surely, it would be more prudent to be making signings like that?
As bad as it may have seemed this season, I know all is not lost and it could all turn around within two games, but there has to be a long-term vision and the results would be more palatable if there was a bigger picture that everyone could see rather than just tunnel vision built on fear and “realism”.