COMMENT: Sunderland fan of 30 years says put politics aside – it's only the results
Graeme Down, Sunderland Fan Of 30 Years
12:35 GMT, 1 April 2013
13:12 GMT, 1 April 2013
I was at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and witnessed Manchester United beat us fairly comfortably. We were very poor in the first half and just before the break I tweeted: ‘Half-time approaching. 1-0 United. #SAFC #Spineless #Depressing #Championship.’
I think my mood summed up the thoughts of the 40,000 Sunderland fans at the Stadium of Light. Everything our supporters demand from the players — passion, hunger and desire — was missing.
Then the news came through later that evening that life-long Sunderland supporter Martin O’Neill had been sacked.
Experienced Paolo Di Canio has played for Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham and Charlton in the Premier League
For some weeks, I have noticed along with friends of mine that O’Neill’s body language left a lot to be desired. As a fan, we’d like our manager to immerse himself in the North East, the great footballing tradition of the region, and above all, be proud of managing a great club.
And we are a great football club.
League position aside, we have an average home attendance of just over 40,000 fans, we have a state of the art academy in place, and we have a wonderful football history.
But our club — as many are these days — is run by a foreign owner, Texan billionaire Ellis Short.
With seven games left to go and sitting just a point above the relegation zone, appointing a new manager, let alone one without Premier league pedigree, has left supporters feeling extremely nervous.
Sacked: Martin O'Neill was dismissed after losing to Manchester United
Poor: Sunderland were again outplayed against Manchester United on Saturday
I expected us to secure a top 10 finish this season. We have spent 30million in three transfer windows, but our squad simply have not been good enough so far. Yes, we have injury problems but with games coming up, starting with Chelsea on Saturday, then the small event of a Tyne-Wear derby against our noisy neighbours Newcastle in less than two weeks’ time, it is a tough start by anyone’s standard.
Di Canio is potentially a good appointment, but this seems to me like another knee-jerk reaction to try and stay in the Premier league. There is of course the detail of another 60million of TV money at stake next season, and which owner would want to miss out on that
Then there’s his ‘facist’ political stance. How will the hard-working fans of the city take to his appointment, particularly given the club’s working-class heritage, never mind the sponsors of the club
Warning: A Sunderland supporters group said they expect Paolo Di Canio to be sacked if he expresses any fascist views
Club colours: One thing that cannot be questioned is Di Canio's passion
Personally, I have no opinion on his politics. Ultimately he has been appointed to get results and keep Sunderland in the Premier League — for supporters of the football club that is what fundamentally counts.
This a huge gamble by our board. For sure, l like his enthusiasm but does he really have the experience at this level The man we’ve just sacked had the experience, and as a motivator he was up there with the best. We all remember what happened to our ‘friends’ 10 miles up the road when Alan Shearer took over with eight games to go don’t we…
Time will tell. His appointment by Ellis Short is either a complete masterstroke, or a monumental catastrophe.