Sunderland’s ongoing battle for survival, Chris Coleman’s future and Ellis Short’s ownership continues to dominate the agenda on Wearside.
Sunderland are bottom of the Championship, five points adrift, with just nine games to avoid the embarrassment of relegation to League One.
Short wants to sell the club, with more than 10,000 fans signing a petition calling for him to go, while doubt remains over Coleman’s long-term future at Sunderland given the uncertainty off the pitch.
Our Sunderland writers Phil Smith and Richard Mennear were joined by BBC Radio Newcastle’s Nick Barnes for our latest SAFC Facebook Live chat.
On the job done by Chris Coleman and his future?
Coleman took charge in November, but has been unable to steer the club away from the drop zone.
The ex-Wales boss was only allowed to sign free agents and loan signings in January, with the club now without a win in nine games ahead of arguably the biggest nine games in the club’s history.
NB: “By supporters’ own admission, the players aren’t good enough, here is a manager having to manage players that the fans don’t think are good enough.
“I defy any manager to come in and work with that group of players and get significant results. There are problems up front, in goal, in defence and the lack of a midfield.
“This squad has had relegation written on it since September, the results are proof of that.
“Coleman can’t be judged on this season because of the amount of problems he has had to deal with.
“Coleman has to be given his chance to build his own team and hopefully he will be.
“He is a big name in football, for a club ike Sunderland – if they are in League One next season – that is a big statement. He is a man that can take a big club back up.”
PS: “We all hoped and thought the results would be much better under Chris Coleman, it has been disappointing and the results have evaporated in the last few months.
“You always want to see a team play in a certain style, but Coleman has not had the players to be able to do that.
“He had an idea how he wanted to play, Williams and Watmore then got injured and that took out pace and creativity.
“He found a way to revive Darron Gibson and it was a big blow to lose him.
“January, we all hoped these players would make a difference, but Coleman has three inexperienced strikers, goalkeepers struggling for form.
“The squad is a mess and so unbalanced.
“At some point we have to accept the squad needs to be rebooted, if you can convince him to stay I believe Coleman is as good as anyone to do that job.
“I find it hard to massively criticise his tactics because I don’t know what you do with this group of players.”
Need for new owners?
Short is looking to sell Sunderland with recent reports claiming the American would be willing to give it away for ‘free’ – if a new owner is willing to take on the club’s huge debts which stand at £137million.
Around half the debt, £69million, is to Short himself and the rest is owed to Security Bank Corporation.
NB: “Any of the big clubs that have gone down into League One or the old Third Division – Leeds United, Manchester City, Sheffield United and Wednesday – the turn around has come with new owners.
“It is obvious, Sunderland need a new owner and an injection of money to take them forward.
“My biggest fear would be if they are in League One and there is no change in ownership next season it would be a tough ask to get promotion at the first attempt.
“Whoever comes in has got to face the reality that they are still going to have to pump in £100million plus to get them back into a competitive Championship team, never mind the Premier League.”
PS: “Last summer was scrambled and that is what happened when you have no leadership from the top. There is no surprise there is this big disconnect.
“Sunderland doesn’t seem to have a new identity at the moment. New ownership is about finances, yes but also an identity, to say to Chris Coleman you have the freedom to go and shape things.
“It is rudderless at the moment.”
Goalkeeping situation – stick with Lee Camp for run-in?
NB: “It depends how Camp does against Preston, but you can’t keep chopping and changing and Steele’s confidence must be shot to pieces.
“It is an indictment of what the season has been, it is one further problem the manager has had to face; lack of midfielders, goalkeeping situation is dire, haven’t got the strikers, it is a blueprint for relegation.”
On Jack Rodwell’s ongoing situation?
Rodwell, who remains on the fringes and isn’t part of Coleman’s plans, has been an outcast since it was revealed the club offered to tear up his £70,000 a week in a bid to get him off the books.
NB: “Jack Rodwell is not refusing to play. The situation has become untenable in terms of he probably won’t play again, but he is doing what he is asked to do in his contract.”
PS: “What would be amazing for the club is for a new owner to come in and sort the Rodwell situation, ‘enough is enough, we take the loss and start again and get rid of the ties from the past’.
“At the moment Short just won’t pay that money, but you can understand why.”
On reduced season ticket prices and Premier Concourse closure next season?
NB: “They have done their best to try and get them down and freeze them for three years, anything can happen in three years.
“It gives some sense of stability and direction, this is a small step in that direction.
“If they are winning, people will come and watch a winning team.
“It was inevitable to close the Premier Concourse, I think we saw it coming; getting fans lower down to get some sense of atmosphere.
“The club had a decision to make there about the running of the stadium, the atmosphere and to a certain extent cost. To me, it seems to make sense.”
PS: “There are a lot of new concessionary schemes which is good and an Under-18 price bracket, the research had shown there was a massive drop off between Under-16s and the 22 bracket.
“It is great to try and get the next generation in. As kids you want to see the stars and big players, but at the same time, if Sunderland can get kids into the ground and they start winning games then it is a fun experience going to the game.
“I can sympathise with those that have to move from the Premier Concourse because it is a deeply personal thing, but having said that something had to give in terms of the atmosphere.
“I don’t have a huge problem with it, but win some games and it won’t be a problem.”
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