David Preece: Fed-up Sunderland fans don’t want a messiah or a saviour - just someone who is fully committed to the club
There’s a quote from Stewart Donald in a past newspaper interview that stuck out for me ever since I read it.
He stated “The notion that I am going to leave Sunderland in the short-term having made a quick profit, is simply wrong.”
That “notion” seems a little more likely to believe now, especially when you read his statement released on the club website this week.
After just 18 months in charge, blaming fans for his own and the club’s predicament and giving them as the reason he is looking to sell his stake in the club doesn’t mirror the image of a man with long-term aspirations at the club.
There’s a saying that a man should never be judged by the words he says, only be his actions and Stewart Donald’s actions don’t match his words.
From a business perspective, it probably did look too good to be true.
Put in little of your own (or somebody else’s) money to acquire an asset that could be sold on for 10 times your initial stake and bingo!
You can sit back on the board as a minor stakeholder, light a fat cigar and revel in the back-patting that would follow.
And that still could have been the case if he’d played his cards right, if he’d kept up the PR push that won over many fans in the early days of his reign, if his closest allies hadn’t jumped ship at the first sign of rough seas, if he
himself had stood up to the unrest that was clearly brewing amongst the fans.
The statement blaming the fans for his ongoing absence and his reason for an urgent sale of the club which he had been pursuing almost since day one smacks of cowardice.
If I’ve learned anything from life, it’s to take ownership of your errors and failings and at least attempt to put them right and prove the doubters wrong.
As much as I have the people who encouraged me to thank for pushing me on, it’s been those who doubted me or criticised me that have driven me on even more.
So, to see someone point the finger of blame away from themselves makes me sick to my stomach.
I’m used to hearing footballers blame their manager for their own shortcomings. They often get their wish to move on to another club only to find themselves in the same position and only realise the true root of their problem is
much closer to home and the same goes here.
How can you blame supporters that turn up in the numbers Sunderland fans do just because they are pointing out where you’re going wrong and holding you to your word?
How can you blame fans that have bought into a pipe dream that has crumbled due to its own flimsiness?
How can you blame fans for not, in your opinion, backing the team enough for them to win a play-off?
How can you question the intelligence of those fans because they are bold enough to question how you’re running the club?
Because the people playing the blame game are spineless and won’t admit they are the ones to blame, that’s why.
I’ve heard a lot of talk of the statement being a divisive tactic to split the support and if that is the case it’s just more evidence to heap on the pile already mounting that the best interests of the club aren’t at the owners heart.
He didn’t take over the club to rescue it, no matter what feigned interest he took in re-connecting the disenchanted fans back to the club.
What he didn’t realise is that fans will always be there. Look at the 4,000 fans that travelled to Doncaster.
They don’t want a messiah or a saviour. Just someone who is committed to the club and doesn’t run it like a pop-up shop trying to make a quick kill.