David Jones: Seven days that will define Ellis Short’s Sunderland tenure

Ellis Short
Ellis Short
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Well, if only I had a crystal ball.

As I write, the transfer window still has seven days to run, Dick Advocaat is playing Russian roulette with Ellis Short in every media briefing and we still have Exeter to play in the Capital One Cup.

Ellis Short

Ellis Short

But one thing is for sure, Saturday was a major improvement.

I joked on Twitter that on the evidence of 90 minutes against Swansea City, Sunderland were the most improved team in the Premier League!

Not hard you might say.

But this is what I expected of Advocaat’s team; more of the fight and intensity that kept us in this league in the first place.

Imagine what that stadium would be like if we were watchihng a winning team

David Jones

There was strong evidence of a gameplan, no dereliction of duty from our fullbacks and a midfield that, whilst protecting the back four, knew they had to affect the game going forwards too.

In Jeremain Lens we had a genuinely potent attacking threat; the likes of which have been all too rare at the Stadium of Light.

Just imagine what Lens could do if he had two or three teammates with similar pace and quality - over to you Mr Short.

Yann M’Vila just looked a Premier League player, with an assurity of touch and striding physicality our midfield has long been crying out for.

Chairman Ellis Short looks on during the Sunderland U21 1-0 Chelsea U21.  Picture by FRANK REID

Chairman Ellis Short looks on during the Sunderland U21 1-0 Chelsea U21. Picture by FRANK REID

If only he had a top class playmaker in front of him who could open teams up in their own half - over to you again Mr Short.

And wasn’t it great to see John O’Shea back at centre half, cajoling and encouraging, marshalling the referee and supervising a much better performance from the reassured Sebastian Coates alongside him.

It might seem like I’m getting carried away with a 1-1 draw at home and yes but for Costel Pantilimon we might have been bemoaning three defeats out of three.

But we all know how inexplicably bad we were in those first two games and let’s face it we’ve had nothing to shout about since May.

I thought the fans were immense too.After all the negativity surrounding our awful start to the season I couldn’t believe the noise and encouragement that came from the stands.

Sunderland fans did themselves proud: just imagine what that stadium could be like if we were watching a winning team packed full of class - over to you again Mr Short.

This is a massively important week for Sunderland Association Football Club, perhaps the seven days that will define the Ellis Short era.

If the window closes without any further eye catching arrivals then we know where we stand.

But if Short responds to the barbs from the manager he fought so hard to keep, from the media, from the terraces and from former players who only want to see the club succeed then we have to respond too.

If Advocaat gets those extra players he needs we must all stand together, united as one, to urge our club onto more solid ground.

Regardless of the result on Tuesday there is a lot to admire about Exeter.

Their long serving manager Paul Tisdale is probably the most intelligent boss operating in the Football League and he’s backed up by a fiercely bright chairman in Julian Tagg who has a background in education.

Together they make a formidable unit in League Two; their onus is on discovering young talent, providing them with the best coaching possible and then offering them opportunities to develop in their first team.

Sounds anarchic doesn’t it and sometimes there are grave consequences such as last January when the exciting Matt Grimes was stolen from them by Swansea City for £1.75m.That money is more than their entire football budget for a season and some will be reinvested in their playing squad; handing Tisdale a greater chance than normal to make an impact on the race for promotion.

But most will be spent on their next generation; improving the infrastructure for the academy talent who at Exeter will continue to have a fantastic chance to shine away from the glare of the Premier League.

I don’t know what to make of Aston Villa this season: they were fortunate to win at Bournemouth, offered very little going forward against Manchester United, and then were undone late on at Crystal Palace.

Tim Sherwood has spent almost £50m supervising a huge turnover of players and he’s clearly still working out his best team, particularly his most effective forward line.

We owe them one.

Remember the pace of Bacuna who ran amok down our left side at the Stadium of Light? Well now he’s got a friend on the other side who likes to bomb forward just as much.

Jordan Amavi is my pick of their new recruits but his attacking instinct from left back proved his side’s undoing at Selhurst.

And he likes to tackle as much as he loves to dribble - our fullbacks will need to be on their game again!