Stewart Donald not short on communication, but appointing the right boss NOW is crucial for Sunderland

'Football is a simple game. We're the ones who complicate it.'

Thursday, 24th May 2018, 9:28 am
Updated Thursday, 24th May 2018, 9:31 am
Sunderland AFCs new owner Stewart Donald, right, with director Charlie Methven, left talk to the waiting media.

I’m sure somebody must have said it before him, but the first time I heard that was from the co-manager of my youth team at Sunderland, George Herd. And he had a point.

His thought being, if you took too many touches of the ball, you’d needlessly overcomplicate matters and the options available to you quickly shut down.

“The first pass you see is usually the right one,” was his mantra and, in the high tempo, rough and tumble of the Northern Intermediate League, he was right.

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Notice he didn’t say ‘an easy game’, but a simple one. If it was easy, we wouldn’t have had to endure the standard of football at the Stadium of Light over recent seasons, would we?

Defeat mightn’t have tasted quite so bitter if the football hadn’t been so turgid.

But the simplicity of the game is a truism that still stands up in other aspects of football and, within hours of taking charge of Sunderland, Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven proved exactly that.

With so much going wrong at the club in recent seasons, how the the small, simple gestures made by both men in their interview with the lads at The Roker Report have been received goes to show just how bad things had been.

We didn’t want to be filled with false promises, even though that would have been better than what had gone before.

Since Sam Allardyce’s departure two years ago, there had been a lack of direction, a lack of authority and, more than anything, a real lack of identity to the club, other than abject negativity and an air of apathy.

We had become a nothing club with loyal, but disillusioned fans, who were desperate for any sign of recovery, no matter how faint.

Whilst there was still a pulse registering at the club, there was hope.

Then, in come the new ownership and it feels like we’ve been shocked back to life.

The desperation felt by all might be the reason for the over-the-top optimism, but the words that came from Donald and Methven’s mouths were exactly what we needed to hear.

The very fact they seem to be keen to make themselves so accessible is refreshing after an owner who had for too long made it feel like a privilege just for us to hear his voice.

They have obviously not only done their homework, it sounds as if they have hired a private tutor for extra lessons too and whether they get this right or not, at least you get the feeling they are genuine and will do everything within their powers to make it happen.

They know it’s going to be a hard, arduous task, but they can also see the potential in the club.

More importantly, they seem to have identified some of the problems that have plagued the club for too long and need rectifying.

Chris Coleman touched on it during his time about the club needing a culture change, to set new standards both on and off the pitch.

We can argue there are good people at the club who want the best for the club, and there are, but collectively there has been a failure and, like any good team, strong leadership is vital.

All we have heard in the past are excuses as to what has gone before and barriers put up as to why things won’t get better, so just to hear rudimentary plans is like breath of fresh air.

Even when asked about the pink seats, Donald proved he had given that some thought when he gave a solution to how they might be replaced.

As he pointed out, they may be way down on the list of priorities, but there’s a duty of care that he is attending to on all fronts.

Sometimes you can be wary of owners who are very public with their intentions. It’s called Michael Knighton Syndrome, yet first impressions are good.

The next step, and possibly the most important of all, is the appointment of the new manager and hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long for that to happen.

The quicker the better so they can have as much time as possible to set about turning this ship around by instilling the standards that were once the norm at the club, rather than just a distant memory.