Season 2017-18 remains the worst in the history of Sunderland AFC.
There was an even lower league placing in 2018-19, but it wasn’t as bad. The only reason they finished bottom of the Championship in 2018 was due to the impossibility of finishing any lower.
It might be damning with faint praise; nevertheless, the squad improved in 2018-19. That’s unless anyone saw merit that I couldn’t in the likes of Vaughan, Steele, Wilson, LuaLua, Camp, Fletcher, Galloway, Ejaria, Clarke-Salter, Browning and Rodwell.
Although it’s been a grim last few weeks, matters improved last season, even if it was ultimately disappointing. I’m not entirely convinced that Sunderland wouldn’t now be limbering up for League Two had it not been for a radical overhaul.
Central to this change are owners Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven.
Perhaps frustrated at missing promotion, a voluble minority have expressed dissatisfaction with the pair and claim Donald and Methven are driven by profit. The pair firmly deny this.
Still, for the sake of the argument let’s assume it’s true and that they only see pound signs.
Well that’s fine by me. Even if they’re only passionate about cash, at least it’s passion. I would be passionate about a dominoes team if I had as much as a tenner riding on it; let alone a few million.
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In reality, to make big money from selling the club, they must dramatically improve the team. A really whopping profit would mean somehow returning to the Premier League. If that’s the plan, bring it on.
Methven took a wrong turn last week when mentioning the “quiet” support of Sunderland fans at Wembley eight days ago, and the fact that more Charlton supporters attended.
This was rather silly on Methven’s part and the counter-arguments are blunt and obvious. First, the supporters weren’t given much to shout about. Second, Charlton are a smaller club, but their fans live round the corner from Wembley.
However, the main ammunition he presented to his critics was an inability to understand just how prohibitively expensive two unexpected Wembley trips can be.
The cheapest play-off final ticket was £30. Bus travel was £50. This plus the cost of food and drink gives a rock bottom cost for one match of around £100. That’s just for one person without hotels etc, as well as £370 season tickets and £50 shirts.
This was all fodder to anyone wishing to portray Mr Methven as an out-of-touch posh boy. He’s a PR man. So the most surprising thing about his thoughts was that he articulated them at all.
Last week I defended SAFC’s owners against a preposterous article about them in the Daily Mail.
I stand by it. They’ve done enough, so far, to retain general goodwill and absolution after Methven’s ill-considered comments. To use a much-maligned expression: we’re all in it together. Perhaps for very different reasons; but we are.