Wise Men Say: Man with a plan Coleman starting to bring festive cheer to Sunderland

What a relief that it's finally over.

Monday, 18th December 2017, 2:00 pm
Wise Men Say

Having putting an end to the hoodoo of going so long without a home win – 364 days, 22 matches at the Stadium of Light – there’s a sense of jubilation on Wearside.

There will be those at other clubs who point the finger and laugh – ‘look at the Mackems going on ridiculous cos they’ve won one game’.

Well, look and laugh all you want. There’s no denying that one home win in a year is a pitiful return.

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But that really doesn’t matter now. At the final whistle on Saturday, you could sense the relief, feel the anxiety ebbing away.

And the aura of misery hanging over the Stadium of Light for such a long time now could be starting to dissipate.

No one is getting ahead of ourselves, we still have a hell of a fight on our hands to Save Our Season.

But, while there will be more bumps and troughs in the road, more disappointments, you have to be starting to believe that Chris Coleman is the man to answer that SOS.

There have been setbacks along the way – the result at home to Reading was very disheartening – and you can put your money on there being more between now and the end of the campaign.

But there now seems to be a plan, a way of playing, a method to achieve our aims on the field.

It’s early days, but Coleman continues to say and do the right things.

I’m not going to get over-excited and declare a Chris-a-lution, or that under Coleman we are all of suddenly going to be transformed into a force overnight, but it’s hard to keep the smile off my face.

Finally, we might be starting to see the green shoots of revival which we have been seeking for so long.

Much will depend on what business the Sunderland manager can do in January.

Barring some sort of change of heart from owner Ellis Short, which appears about as likely as me getting a lottery win, Coleman is unlikely to be given any sort of meaningful war chest for the forthcoming transfer window.

Still, he knows the score and has done since before he arrived, and even with one financial hand tied behind his back, both the man himself, and the supporters, must hope he can wheel and deal to strengthen in January.

However, in terms of comings and goings, it’s really a case of what will be, will be.

Just as importantly will be what Coleman can achieve with those already at his disposal.

They say you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but then maybe Coleman’s predecessor was making a pig’s ear out what he had available.

What I mean by that is simply this, many of us who have watched the team, and their failings this term under Simon Grayson, have insisted that the squad was better than its league position suggested.

They say the table never lies, but, putting performances, individual errors and sendings off aside, on paper the Sunderland squad never looked like one which should be in relegation trouble.

Football, of course, isn’t played on paper, and Sunderland are still very much in a battle against the dreaded drop.

But that’s three clean sheets in five games under Coleman, and that is a significant improvement.

Also the new boss seems to be getting more from Darron Gibson than the two previous incumbents in the role, and the youth is getting its chance to shine.

It may just be a Happy Christmas and New Year for Sunderland fans, who’d have thought it possible?

* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction from Chris Coleman. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes