David Moyes’ Sunderland future is one of many crucial debates to be had in the coming weeks

Sunderland's Victor Anichebe can't believe the referee's decision.
Sunderland's Victor Anichebe can't believe the referee's decision.
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It did not even come close to the vitriol Steve Bruce faced on his final game in charge, scenes that many thought may be mirrored on Saturday should Sunderland’s relegation be confirmed.

There were, in the closing stages, more clear chants for Moyes to leave, starting in the South Stand and taking hold around the ground.

That so many stayed away entirely spoke volumes for how the current regime is perceived and how Moyes’ tenure has sapped faith and bullishness from huge sections of the Sunderland support.

In the coming weeks the future of the manager will be the primary tenant of debate among fans and pundits.

For a manager to survive such a wretched season is in the modern era is almost unprecedented.

Signings have been poor, selection at a crucial stage of the season baffling. The tone has been poor. Straight-talking and realism are qualities highly prized in this part of the world, but so too is leadership and defiance, particularly in a post as significant as the Sunderland manager.

At a club like this, so important to the city, how the most public figure talks matters.

Clearly, it is not as important as the teams picked, the way they play, the players signed.

All those three are the most critical issues to be addressed. David Moyes has not impressed on those key barometers, certainly not since the turn of the year when the form has gone from poor to appalling, and so it is legitimate to question why it will change merely because the Black Cats are a division inferior.

Hull City’s remarkable revival pours cold water on any suggestion that relegation was inevitable.

Much of this failure has been self-inflicted, and it rankles for much of the Sunderland faithful that so little responsibility has been taken.

There is a lack of quality in this squad, but not a dearth so bad to justify failing to score in nine of the last ten games. That is deep failure that must be confronted.

The Black Cats boss is entitled to reflect on what has happened in the last nine months and assess his future, and should he decide to stay he will face a battle to win back many who have lost faith.

Moyes’ future, though the most hotly debated topic, is merely one of many issues that will shape Sunderland’s attempt at rebirth and that is something worth stressing.

Above the Scot, much can be done to set the tone for the summer and the following season. Is Ellis Short still looking to sell the club? Will he continue to invest regardless?

The owner has admitted to mistakes in player recruitment during his tenure, and promised to share the big picture plans with fans at the end of the season.

It goes without saying that he and Martin Bain must make good on that promise.

Sunderland’s financial situation is well known and much of the rebuilding work will go on over and above the manager.

Nevertheless, his future cannot afford to become a perennial question mark, an elephant in the room.

That Short’s statement did not mention Moyes reflected a sense that all will have stand back for a little while, ponder what has happened, what is to come.

Time will tick, however.

There are players out of contract to decide on, and recruitment must be decisive if Sunderland are to have any chance of making a fist of the Championship.

David Moyes was fair to say that responsibility must be shared ahead of the Bournemouth defeat.

Yet if this torturous season in the name of stability is to be worth anything, clarity and real leadership is owed.

It has felt for some weeks that a change of manager may be necessary to turn around a flat lining mood at Sunderland. If that is not to happen, then the plan must be clear and convincing.

That discussion must also absolutely not deflect entirely from other crucial debates about the club’s future.