HOW quickly the ground can slip from beneath your feet in football.
Just as it seemed Sunderland were building momentum by beating Burnley at home and then putting away Fulham with a dominant display in London, here we are back at square one.
It wasn’t just losing against QPR and Bradford that hurt, it was the manner of those defeats, falling well short of what is expected of a team wearing the Sunderland shirt.
The quality comes and goes, but where was the fight, where was the urgency?
In truth we could go back through the entire season – perhaps even the last several years – pinpointing false dawns, evidence of progress followed swiftly by painful defeat.
And is this all Gus Poyet’s fault?
How can you judge a manager when you’re not sure he even signed the players? Whose decision was it to spend the bulk of the summer budget on Jack Rodwell from Manchester City?
And how can you judge a manager on his signings when you don’t know where he’s allowed to do his shopping?
We could all go to Harrods and come back with a beautiful new toy that lasts for years, but it’s a lot harder to get one from Poundland that doesn’t fall apart after a fortnight.
Taking Billy Jones and Jordi Gomez for nothing looked like shrewd business in the summer especially when you consider how short Sunderland were on numbers after losing the bulk of last season’s team: Bardsley, Alonso, Ki, Colback and Borini, who have all been mightily missed.
Liam Bridcutt was the most talked about player in the Championship when Poyet took him from his former club Brighton.
Will Buckley, too, was worth a gamble at that price, while Ricky Alvarez looked like a last minute throw of the dice.
But to my mind, Sunderland are still paying the price for allowing Roberto De Fanti loose with the club’s coffers.
The next manager in was always going to have a mighty rebuilding job on his hands after De Fanti’s shambolic and expensively scattergun approach to recruitment.
So, do we really want to see the back of a manager who somehow kept Sunderland in the Premier League last season and at the same time delivered us a trip to Wembley?
And what happens then?
Another manager comes through the revolving door with another entirely new backroom staff.
They bring with them another style of play which the director of football must accommodate in his recruitment, dispensing with months of scouting and lists of targets.
That new manager has to go cap in hand to his boss, begging for a slice of the incredible TV deal which is just about to fall into his lap. And when those funds aren’t forthcoming, we find ourselves here again.
It might be painful to hear, but in terms of squad quality and depth, Sunderland have fallen way behind the likes of West Ham, Stoke and even arguably Hull City!
Unfortunately it’s going to take more mighty investment from Ellis Short to change that, whoever is in charge.
Of course I’m conveniently ignoring the fact that Poyet has some huge bridge building to do with the Sunderland fans and indeed media after his recent post match outbursts.
No one hates losing more than Poyet – and quite frankly, he’s just not very good at it.
I think sometimes he would be better served dodging the post match inquest, biting his tongue and taking a fine – and that from someone whose company made sure compulsory pre and post match manager interviews were part of the last TV contract.
Be in no doubt that Sunderland fans are not at fault here, but nor do I think Gus Poyet should be shouldering all the blame for the teams current woes.
For Sunderland to progress as a stable, successful Premier League club, I believe Poyet has to stay.
But first he has to win back your support and the only way he can do that is with results, starting on Saturday. Keep the faith.
BET IN BRIEF
Will Sunderland keep faith with Poyet? And will he be boss next season?
Our friends at Sky Bet can’t decide whether Gus Poyet will still be manager of Sunderland at the start of next season.
They go 5/6 for him to be in charge and 5/6 for him to have left the Stadium of Light.
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