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|Posté le: Mer 28 Mar - 07:43 (2018) Sujet du message: Sunderland set for relegation: Why the culture at the club m
| sbo128 Sunderland are heading for another relegation but how can Chris Coleman change the culture of failure? Adam Bate takes a look at a club still stuck in a downward spiral.
"Sunderland are unique," former chairman Sir Bob Murray said back in 1999. At the time, that word unique had positive connotations when ascribed to Sunderland. The club were top of English football's second tier and had just drawn a crowd of 33,517 for a reserve game against Liverpool. "No one else in the country can touch us," Murray argued.
"We want to be a national club, a household name, perhaps everyone's second favourite team." He was not far wrong. Sunderland had the third highest average attendance in English football that season behind Manchester United and Liverpool, drawing bigger crowds than reigning champions Arsenal - and they weren't even in the Premier League.
Almost 20 years on and the kids who took advantage of the free tickets to go to the Stadium of Light for that reserve game against Liverpool should be the club's vocal driving force. Instead, they have seen only decline. Sunderland finally succumbed to relegation last season. Now they are bottom of the Championship. The downward spiral continues. sbo128
They go to Derby County on Friday evening on a run of 10 games without a win, only takeover talk providing a semblance of hope. Burton Albion, a mid-table side in the Southern Division two decades ago, are the one side that Sunderland are within four points of catching and Chris Coleman's men will need to overhaul two more if they are to prevent the seemingly inevitable.
The story of where it went wrong is a long and unhappy one. Many are unwilling to let David Moyes off the hook so easily for the season that saw Sunderland surrender their Premier League status without a fight. Others point to a deeper malaise that has prevented any real sense of progress for years and was summed up by Gus Poyet in his 'rotten core' speech.
"I think there is something wrong in the football club and it is not an excuse," said Poyet. "I need to find that. If I do not find it we have got a problem." Something was lost. Peter Reid's team had embodied the spirit of the region, but empathy and understanding disappeared. Sunderland became bloated but empty - a husk of what a club should be. Toxic even.
Jack Rodwell and Darron Gibson have come to symbolise the excess. The former sitting on a £70,000 per week contract but lacking the ability to justify it or the ambition to seek success elsewhere. The latter charged with drink-driving on the morning of the club's 2-0 home defeat to Preston. Sunderland were at least quick to suspend Gibson for his actions.
All of which does nothing to heal that ever-growing sense of disconnect between the club and its supporters. It is that most vicious of cycles, a club with an absent owner in Ellis Short seemingly locked in a nightmare of its own making. Are they losing games because they do not care enough? Or do they not care enough because they are losing games? sbo128