SUNDERLAND’S playing squad is the biggest problem at the club - bigger than the board or any issues with the Academy - and must be overhauled this summer.
That was the clear and overwhelming verdict of supporters in our Big Sunderland Survey which looked at what was wrong with the club and what needed to be changed.
Head coach Gus Poyet spoke of something “wrong” at the club in April.
With the Black Cats facing almost certain relegation after defeat to Everton, Poyet said: “I think there’s something wrong in the football club and it’s not an excuse.
“I need to find that. If I don’t find it we’ve got a problem.
‘I think I know what it is but I don’t know for certain.
“You know, you just think to yourself it’s too many times, too many things. I always say to myself “What happened with Brucie in the second year?”, “What happened with Martin O’Neill?”, “What happened with Di Canio?” and what happens with me now?”
That sparked a debate which saw intense scrutiny of the hierarchy and club set up, up to board level as well as a fresh look at the Academy and its productivity.
But when asked what their concerns were - board, academy or playing staff - Sunderland fans were clear that they see the quality of the playing staff as the key issue holding the club back.
Well over half the people polled - 62 per cent - pointed the finger squarely at the inadequacy of the Black Cats playing squad as something which needed to change if the club were to prosper.
And they were also equally clear on one of the possible solutions - give Gus Poyet the role of manager!
Asked whether they thought Poyet should be made manager, which is the Uruguayan’s own preference - or retained in the position of head coach - fans opted for manager in their droves.
By a majority of 12 to one supporters voted for Poyet to be given the traditional title of manager of Sunderland Football Club.
As far as the Academy was concerned, in terms of those who expressed an opinion, 18 per cent thought changes had to be made but 22 per cent were happy with how things were run.
With the board, 19 per cent wanted to see comprehensive changes but 25 per cent did not see it as a particular issue.