When the dust finally settles on what has been a dreadful season, some serious questions need to be asked.
That’s nothing new for Sunderland. It seems that at the end of every campaign, in recent years, the Black Cats’ hierarchy have been taking a look at things to see what lessons can be learned.
We’ve had at least two root-and-branch reviews that I can remember in that time, and, to be honest, my memory is not the best.
But for all this lesson learning, for all this ‘adopting the Udinese model’, for all these austerity measures, there has sadly been one major common outcome – they have been disastrous.
Now, with the club headed for the third tier of English football for only the second time, you can bet your bottom dollar there will be another one of those end-of-season reviews.
In fact, if you could get odds on it, I might have a few bob on it.
Incidentally, it is a good job supporting Sunderland isn’t like gambling – ‘When the fun stops, stop’ – the place would have been empty for some time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against these root-and-branch reviews, or looking back at the end of each season to see what lessons can be learned. I’m sure most, if not all, clubs do it in some guise.
But why oh why do we seem to be holding big inquests every year, and so little seems to change for the better?
When this season’s end comes around, one major question definitely needs answering.
Which genius thought selling Vito Mannone to Reading in the summer was a good idea?
Chief executive Martin Bain described the deal as ‘efficient’ business at the time, pointing out the Italian could have left at the end of this season for nothing.
Well, that’s fair enough, and I realise, having dropped down from the Premier League, the club had to cut its cloth accordingly.
But to replace £30m Jordan Pickford and £2m Mannone with Jason Steele, Robbin Ruiter and Lee Camp has to be right up there with the most ridiculous decisions made by the current regime.
Yeah, so we made £2m when we could have got nothing, and no doubt taking a Premier League wage off the bill appeared good financial sense.
But then you look at how many points all three of the men brought in have cost the Black Cats this season.
Dropping like a stone from the top flight, then straight through the Championship trap door within 12 months, has got to mean more financial misery for the club.
I don’t think anyone gets it wrong on purpose, and I’ve always stated that I think Ellis Short came on board with all the right intentions.
But even if you look past all the historic situations of mismanagement during Short’s reign and focus on this season alone, then you have to say that, intentional or not, the current regime has sold the supporters well short (no pun intended).
There will be some who take years and a lot of convincing to come back, there will be some who may never come back, and there will be the die hards who turn up no matter what.
But each and every one of them has suffered another miserable season because Short and Bain have got it so terribly wrong.
Forget your root-and-branch review, it’s time to uproot the tree and plant something new, in the hope that it can grow into a club that gives you something to be proud of.
* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction from Chris Coleman. You can stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes