Sunderland fans heard from former players about how their club can bounce back from relegation to the third tier of English football at a special recording of a popular podcast.
Wise Men Say podcast was recorded live at The Peacock in Sunderland city centre this week, with former Black Cats Stephen Elliott and Lee Howey both appearing alongside presenters Stephen Goldsmith and Gareth Barker.
The club suffered its second successive relegation last weekend, when defeat at home to Burton Albion condemned Sunderland to its second spell in the third level in club history.
How the Wearsiders ended up in their current dismal position was discussed, a possible change in ownership should Ellis Short be able to sell, as was the type of players the club should be signing so that they can achieve promotion back to the Championship at the first attempt.
More than 40 fans gathered at the Peacock for the event, in which Stephen and Lee both took questions on their careers from supporters in the crowd.
Stephen Elliott said: “Sunderland are going to be by a distance the biggest club in League One next season and some of the other teams’ players will be coming to the Stadium of Light thinking ‘what are we doing here?’
“Most fans will not have heard of the players the club are going to be signing but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
“It should be a big draw to come and play for Sunderland at that level.”
Former defender and forward Lee warned that the standard of football is likely to be different to what Black Cats fans are used to. “The ball will probably be in the air more than it is on the ground because it’s a physical league,” he said.
“They are going to have to sign players who can deal with that kind of thing.”
Presenter Stephen Goldsmith said: “We’ve had a decent turnout but it’s been a while since we’ve had a live recording.
“Because of what happened at the weekend it’s been like one big therapy session for us.
“Stephen and Lee have been great to have along because as well as playing for the club in the past, they care like we do.”
Conservation opted to look to the future and how SAFC can escape League One at the first attempt.
“The listeners we have have always tried to be positive,” said Stephen Goldsmith.
“You hear some podcasts and it’s all effing and blinding but ours haven’t tended to be like that.
“We try to be constructive in any criticisms that are made because we want the club to do well again.”
Asked how he thinks Sunderland will fare next season, Stephen Goldsmith said: “It’s all down to the ownership issue really.
“It’s that black or white for the club right now and unless things get resolved then we’ll find it hard to improve.
“No matter how big a club we are, the bottom line is we need to get the right 11 players going out onto the pitch. “That side has to be addressed.”