David Jones: Ellis Short must tell us if he’s still as committed to Sunderland

Ellis Short
Ellis Short
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Ten days into a new season and Sunderland have become the laughing stock of football; whipping boys of columnists, TV pundits and below average Premier League teams alike.

Those are not alarm bells we can hear ringing out around the Stadium of Light – it’s a siren!

Perhaps Short has decided enough is enough, and my only criticism is that he needs to have greater dialogue with those who continue to turn up, misery after misery.

Regular readers of this column will know I was not exactly bullish about our prospects, but it would have been inconceivable to imagine the ineptitude with which Sunderland have started the season.

It’s crazy to rush to rash judgments based on two games, but it’s safe to say that if the level of performance doesn’t change Sunderland will be relegated by Easter.

There are two issues here.

First, as I’ve said time after time, our team is desperately lacking in quality which has not been addressed almost three months after Dick Advocaat voiced his own concerns about the squad.

What have we been waiting for? Why have greater funds not been committed to the cause?

I can understand why the fans have started to vent their fury on Ellis Short – you pay your money, it’s your right.

He has been a wonderful owner and helped to give us a real crack at the big time.

He’s also been accused of years of chronic mismanagement, but let’s think about this for a moment.

We would all have given Martin O’Neill the job at the same time and, having backed O’Neill, it wasn’t Short’s fault it didn’t work out – incidentally we’re still counting the cost of some of those signings.

I, for one, thought Gus Poyet was the right man to turn around our fortunes, but, as it transpired, Gus couldn’t turn his ideas and passion into results; his emotions too often got the better of him after matches and that put him into direct conflict with the fans.

The appointment of Dick Advocaat was, in hindsight, a masterstroke when cynics like myself thought it was too left field an appointment to work out.

I also agree with Short’s insistence for a director of football – in the modern game it’s the only way to ensure a degree of continuity ... at least that’s the idea.

Perhaps if Lee Congerton had been the first to fill that role rather than Roberto De Fanti things might have been different. And that could be the sole decision with which Short’s time at Sunderland is remembered.

It’s hard to judge Congerton without knowing exactly the issues he has to contend with.

From the outside, it would appear something like this: he has a disjointed squad full of average players on big wages, half of whom he’d love to get rid of but can’t because no one else wants them either; he has limited money to spend because his owner wants him to work within his means yet his only real bargaining tool in the transfer market is paying more than anyone else on fees and wages because no one wants to come and play for us.

Tricky, huh?

Well if it is about staying in this league at all costs then anyone can have a quick glance around the clubs to source experienced players who aren’t guaranteed regular game time: Charlie Adam, Aaron Lennon and Mile Jedinak are three for a start.

Again though, this is a quick fix and would be like putting a band aid on a waterfall.

Perhaps Short has decided enough is enough, and my only criticism is that he needs to have greater dialogue with those who continue to turn up, misery after misery.

Does he remain as committed as ever?

What is the true financial strength of our club?

So that’s issue one. The second issue is, to me, the greater problem.

We shouldn’t be blinded by the lack of new signings – the performance level of those we do have has been little short of disgraceful.

Not one has performed anywhere near their ability in the two games thus far.

The magic of the best coaches is to create an environment which produces a team greater than the sum of their parts; I expected that of Advocaat.

He made such a difference to our team in such a short time last season that I couldn’t wait to see what impact he could have on our squad given a whole summer in charge.

But it’s as if pre-season didn’t happen and all they turned up blindly at Leicester without any fitness and more worryingly without any tactical plan.

Even worse is the fact we’ve had a relatively easy start and now we face Swansea, behind Manchester City the most impressive team I’ve seen so far.

If our full-backs continue to wander up the field on Saturday it could be a cricket score: Jefferson Montero and Andre Ayew are just about the two most effective attacking wide players in the league.

Let’s hope we’re the ones laughing on Saturday evening but it’s going to take a mighty turnaround in our fortunes.