Death by a thousand cuts

on Monday, 31 October 2016. Posted in Richard Keys Blog

It was Niall Quinn that said it - 'its like watching a death by a thousand cuts'. You could feel his pain. Quinny is one of the good guys. He's a Sunderland man through and through. Not only was he a fantastic - and as it turned out, irreplaceable centre-forward for the club - he went on to both buy it and then run it.

He came as close as anybody to restoring a grand old club to its rightful place in amongst the big boys. Well, when I say he did, both he and Steve Bruce did. They delivered Sunderland's only top ten finish since Peter Reid kept finishing seventh. That was quite a useful habit!

Quinny's managerial career wasn't quite as successful. His one game in charge ended in embarrassment when the Super Sky Blues tanned their arses at High field Road - ironically managed by Peter Reid! I'm half joking - it wasn't a s bad as I'm making out - but it was a defeat - and a rare enjoyable win for us!

Bruce filled the Stadium of Light and delivered for Quinn, by now Chairman, like no one else has done since.

And so back to the slow death that Quinny described after watching Sunderland being taken apart by Arsenal. It's sad to see them in such a mess. It's been a dreadful start for David Moyes, who now has the unenviable record of having delivered the worst ever P Lge start to any club's season. Cast your minds back a season and Sunderland won their tenth game of that campaign, beating Newcastle. That result gave them six points from their opening ten games and Big Sam went on to do what Big Sam does - he got performances from a team well beyond their capabilities. And, of course, he kept them up. Now Sunderland have just two points. They're going down. And not before time.

I don't say that to be unkind, but it's actually the only way they can go forward. They've got to replicate what Newcastle are doing. There is no more to get out of a tired squad of bang ordinary players. They're shot (I could've used an 'i' there!). They're well passed their sell by date. They're a collection of mis-fits and somebody else's poor buys. They're done. They're hopeless.

None of this is Moyes fault, although I do sometimes think that he could get on the front foot a little more. Sunderland fans knew, but didn't want to be told after half a dozen games, that they were in a relegation fight.

So who do we blame? We can only blame Ellis Short. It had to be Short that nodded through the appointment of Paolo di Canio in 2013.  Worse - DI Canio and his director of football Roberto De Fanti?  Di Canio then brought in a small army of backroom assistants and 14 duffers onto the playing staff. The outcome was as predictable as it was disastrous. Let's not forget that DI Canio replaced Martin O'Neill, who Short had sacked. Brilliant.

Gus Poyet inherited a mess and another relegation battle.  So did Dick Advocaat. So did Big Sam. So did David Moyes. There's a theme here isn't there? Enough. It's time for a remedy. Sticking plaster won't do anymore.

I wrote, before a ball was kicked, that I'd be worried about this season if I was a Sunderland fan. Granted, that was hardly a bold prediction!  But do you remember why I said that? It was because of Martin Glenn's arrogant belief that there was 'no rush' to appoint Roy Hodgson's successor. Really? Sunderland fans knew there was. We all knew Big Sam would get the job but Glenn and the FA couldn't see that while they dragged their heels a transfer window was passing and Sam's successor at Sunderland was going to have no time to work in it. It didn't help that when the FA finally made their minds up Short=

held out for unrealistic compensation. He got his money in the end - but it 's going to be the most expensive compensation in history. The protracted discussions are partly the reason why I believe Sunderland will go down this time.

So what should Short do next? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. David Moyes is the right man to sort things out. Sunderland need to do what Newcastle have done - as much as it will hurt Mackems to read that. Short has to back away - give Moyes the reigns and let him get on with it. If they start preparing for the drop in January - and subsequent recovery - there's no reason why they can't be top of the Championship and heading back to the big time a year from now.

If somehow Moyes keeps them up we'll be re-visiting this same subject next season. Like Villa - eventually it will catch them out. My solution?  A clear out. Get the lot out. Start again. And give Sunderland fans what they want -a bit of pride back in their team.

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