Wise Men Say: Where will it all end for Sunderland?
As I sat in a less-than-quarter-full Stadium of Light watching Preston North End cruise to a 2-0 win, I felt a numbness which had nothing to do with the swirling wind and negative temperatures.
From the moment the visitors doubled their advantage, we were treated to an open training session where North End stroked the ball around to the sound of continuous ‘ole’s’ from the away end.
Once again, this should have been the catalyst for an outpouring of anger and dissatisfaction, but, other than a smattering of boos and the odd voice of dissatisfaction, those who remained in the ground were treated to another episode of SAFC Groundhog Day.
The truth is, Saturday’s game could have been any number of relentlessly depressing home matches this season.
We started off OK and raised a glimmer of hope that it might be the day we finally show some fight and bottle on the pitch.
But then, of course, we conceded a sloppy goal and the referee may as well have blown for full-time in that moment.
A second goal and a comical sending-off soon followed, leaving us sitting bottom of the Championship, without a win in 10 and five points adrift of safety.
For good measure, Darron Gibson also ensured that the club made headlines for all the wrong reasons in the hours before the game.
On numerous occasions this season, we have all uttered the words, ‘well, at least it can’t get any worse’. On each occasion we have been proven wrong.
This time 12 months ago, we all thought we on the cusp on hitting rock bottom, but the only consolation of being so low is that it can provide good foundations to build from.
Although few expected us to bounce straight back to the Premier League at the first time of action, our inevitable relegation did at least give us the chance to get rid of our expensive deadwood and rebuild.
We didn’t take that chance and we are now paying the consequences.
Far from learning from our recruitment mistakes of the past, we simply repeated them, and we’ve ended up with a squad littered with players who are either injury prone, over the hill or simply not good enough.
Then you realise that most of our current rabble won’t even be here come the start of next season and very little of the mud will stick with them.
For too long now, a quick fix has been sought.
Many supporters, myself included, felt that all we would need to get the club back on its feet were a few wins, a few decent performances and the right manager in charge, but this has proven false.
For too long now, there has been a culture of failure and of low standards.
Due to the sensitive nature of an ongoing court case, I’m not going to delve too deep into Darron Gibson specifically, but he is indicative of the errors of judgement we have continuously made over the past few years.
He is a player who had a patchy track record both on and off the field and was known to be injury prone, but we saw fit to spend much of our limited budget on him in January 2017.
Of course, we have another opportunity to put things right this summer.
If we can retain our promising young players and build a team around them by adding experience and physicality, then we might just be OK.
However, if we fail to learn from our previous mistakes yet again, then our newest version of rock bottom doesn’t bear thinking about.
* 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