David Preece: The need for an emergency influx of five January signings tells us everything you need to know about the mess Sunderland is in
Not since the breaking up of the shipyards have Sunderland missed a boat like this.
The chance to start from scratch before a total rebuild has slipped through the club’s fingers like they’ve been trying to catch a bowl full of porridge dropped from the roof of the North Stand.
18 months on from the new regime and word of restructuring and an emergency influx of five new faces in January tells us everything we need to know about the circumstances it finds itself in right now.
The appointment of Phil Parkinson was supposed to give us the short-term boost back up the table but so far we find ourselves in quicksand, rather than on the springboard it was meant to be.
On the face of it, we are in trouble.
I don’t say this as a coach, an ex-footballer or even a writer. I’m saying it as a fan.
As any of those previous things, I try to add balance, some reasoning and benefit of doubt to everyone because football is like the biggest, most difficult jigsaw you’ve every tried to put together but sometimes it feels as if people are attempting to complete it whilst wearing a blindfold.
In all honesty, I’ve handed out so much benefit I should be working in a job centre.
That said, if the situation at Östersunds doesn’t rectify itself I’l have to get myself along to one.
I don’t want to harp on about the past too much, but with the finances this club has had at its disposal over the past decade, restructuring should not be an issue and there seems to be as much structure as a jellyfish.
Where is the club actually heading? What kind of football club are we? What type of football team do we want to be? Promotion might be the aim but isn’t it for everyone at the start of season?
Direction and leadership should come from the very top, but when that person or people come from business backgrounds rather than football, what can they actually contribute to those questions?
They can have a general idea but not how to actually achieve it, especially in the football department? Not many do and those that can are like gold dust.
But it doesn’t take a genius to work out what’s needed in that case. You need someone whose responsibility it is to put in place a structure of playing coaching and recruitment staff. Not only that but to ensure that the philosophy of the coaching and recruitment staff are aligned with theirs and the club’s.
What that does is ensure that any incoming staff fit seamlessly into that structure and in the future, should they need replacing themselves, the list of candidates is narrowed down already. It sounds simplistic but it’s true.
If you don’t have that synergy between club philosophy and staff then you get what we’ve got; people with differing ideas pulling in their own direction creating cracks in the operation.
We might currently be a League One outfit but this is a club with a total net spend of £234.1 million, which is greater than the beaten finalists of last year’s Champions League over the course of the Premier League’s history. And what have we got to show for it?
Nothing of any note. We might as well gone down to South Shields and put it all in the slot machines and saved us all the heartache.
Now I know we’ve had a Director of Football before that was ill-fated but the club is crying out for one now. Someone who, along with the board, will set the agenda for the club going forward and the only reason I can think why the club isn’t doing that is because there is doubt who will own the club in the coming years.
Like anything else though, it’s down to getting the right person for that job.
Someone with the authority to govern as much as it is to delegate.
Someone with the foresight to see where the future of football lies so that we aren’t just copying blueprints but setting them.
If there was such a person in place then perhaps we wouldn’t be in a position of having a manager that has been mismatched with the squad he has to work with. A squad, that has to be said, that has showed little sign of the quality it was meant to possess.
There are far too many examples of clubs around Europe who have created successful environments with far smaller funds available to them for us to think the current state of Sunderland Football Club is acceptable. And the excuses as to why it is failing have all ran out.
This club has always been about good people but what’s more important to the long term future is people who are good at their jobs.
Or even better, good people good at their jobs. First of all, the right person has to be appointed and that should be the club’s next stop.