Malcolm Dawson writes…….there was no Northern League today. A light dusting of snow early morning and a whole heap of surface water all around the North East ensured the Bank Holiday Monday morning fixtures had no chance of going ahead. There were cash turnstiles at the Stadium of Light so was I tempted to go. I hate to say it but no I wasn’t. I hadn’t let Friday’s result fill me with optimism. I was moved, if that’s the right word, by the manager’s appeal to fans to get behind the team and the club’s willingness to put it so prominently on the website. Perhaps after years of treating us with disdain, those who have been charged with struggling to keep the club as a going concern, are trying to limit the damage which is the result of a clueless and now absentee and disinterested landlord. I take no pride in what some will see as a desertion, but sometimes I feel you have to acknowledge that when a relationship has lost its lustre it’s time to walk away.

Pete Sixsmith though was there and his report does nothing to convince me that I should have been there too. 

Sixer proving that fine words butter no parsnips

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY (HOME)

And that, as they say, is it! We hoped that our time in the Championship would be short and it most certainly has been. This latest defeat is the killer and the one that puts us down. Should a resurgent Birmingham City win at Bolton tonight (Tuesday) we can order the sackcloth and ashes safe in the knowledge that they will be donned at Fulham and at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

This was by no means our worst performance of this dismal season. The players were up for it, they looked comfortable and confident for the first hour or so and they played some decent football. Cattermole and McNair were in control of the midfield, Honeyman and Gooch scampered around as only they know how and there was some threat from McGeady. After a shaky start, Wilson settled in and along with O’Shea we looked solid at the back against a Wednesday side that seemed to play everything through Barry Bannon.

But we didn’t score. Love put one over the bar, the keeper made a smart save from a McGeady free kick and there were a couple of occasions when the ball bounced around in their box. We needed to take the lead and put them firmly on the back foot. The longer it went goalless, the more worried I got and it came as no surprise when our defence collapsed in the face of three crosses and conceded three goals, goals that we are oh so familiar with.

The Sunderland back 4 don’t like crosses

Ball knocked into the box, ball either headed straight into the net or laid off for an unmarked opponent to slide it into the net. Goalkeeper looks at defenders. Defenders look at goalkeeper. Crowd groans and thinks about what they might be having for tea.

We did equalise through Honeyman and straight from the restart as well. That gave us a foothold in a game that we simply had to win and I thought that Chris Coleman missed a trick here. Matthews for Oviedo was like for like (Oviedo was injured) but a change from five in midfield to three and two up front might just have paid dividends.

As it was, Gooch, the man likeliest to come off, gave away a needless free kick from which The Owls scored. Despite Cattermole hitting the post and referee Simon Hooper (how did he pass his fitness test? He looked fatter than me….) turning down what looked like a very strong penalty appeal, they closed the game out when the Kosovan giant Atdhe Nuhiu headed in to bang yet another nail in the coffin.

To be honest dear reader, I am getting sick and tired of droning on about the same old deficiencies week in and week out. No doubt you are equally s and t of reading them. I shall go to Leeds on Saturday and will take in the Norwich and Burton home games. Reading and Fulham are off the agenda and, should we be down (99% certain), I shall probably not bother with the Wolves game.

I had hoped for a season in the middle of the Championship to consolidate under Simon Grayson but like most supporters, had no idea of the real state that the club was/is in. Two managers, both with decent reputations, have utterly failed to halt the slide of a famous old club that represents a passionate part of the footballing world but is now laughed and sniggered at by those who think themselves our betters.

I have renewed my ticket for next year, principally because I would not know what to do on a Saturday afternoon. But it could well be my final year as I have great fears that the slide is not over and there may well be worse ignominies to come.

I think we went on Monday half expecting to kick on – and half expecting to slip back. As usual it was the latter. Burton, Barnsley and ourselves will be the three to drop into The Land of the Checkatrade Trophy. For the two B’s it is not unknown territory. For us it is. We could be playing in it for a long, long time.

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Born in Hetton le Hole, deputy editor Malcolm Dawson's first game at Roker Park was the three all draw with Leicester City at the beginning of the 64-65 season. Having spent more than thirty years living in the East Midlands, he was Chairman and Information Officer of the Heart of England Branch of the Supporters' Association but has now returned to live in County Durham.

7 Responses to “Sixer’s Soapbox: Sheffield Wednesday make for a depressing Bank Holiday Monday” Subscribe

  1. Mick Goulding April 3, 2018 at 2:14 am #

    Short, Bain, Moyes, Grayson, Coleman. They’ve all contributed in varying degrees to a sad demise, which may have started earlier, but certainly kicked in at the moment of Allardyce’s departure. Some of them have caused it, while others have been incapable of doing anything about it.
    I haven’t been hard on Coleman, because of the desperate hand he was dealt. But his record here is as poor as any other poor manager we’ve ever had. As a former defender, he doesn’t know how to sort out our rubbish defence; and he brought in a goalkeeper who’s as bad (if not worse) as the two clowns he was supposed to replace. The inexplicable substitutions Pete refers to, playing one up front in a must-win home game, the inability to maintain any kind of consistency in his players….these have characterised his time for months now.
    Anyway, it doesn’t really matter now. The season is dead, and nothing will look the same in a few months. We could buy Lionel Messi and he’d end up playing like Danny Graham. The one constant in my whole life about watching Sunderland (I’m 65 and have been going since 1962), is that they will ALWAYS let you down.

    • malcolm April 3, 2018 at 8:02 am #

      The only point I’d contest Mick is that the demise started when Allardyce left. For me it started when Short decided that either he knew better than Niall Quinn how to run the club or that he would take the reins because he had paid good money for it so could do what he liked.

      The advisers he appointed gave him nothing but poor advice. The directors of football/coaches model he introduced brought in a mixture of players that the coaches didn’t want or overpaid those average players that they asked for on contracts that had to be honoured when the next poor sod walked through the manager’s (sorry coach’s) door.

      The pre-season trip to the States was a marketing exercise rather than a sensible way to prepare the team for the upcoming season.

      Allardyce, remember took his time to get results but that he did was down to his insistence that he be allowed to manage the playing side of the club. After his great escape I’m left wondering if Short then decided he had to reassert his authority because Sam’s hopes to consolidate the side were dashed even before Euro 2016. The failure to sign Yedlin and M’Vila who were key players in the revival Big Sam was looking to start would indicate that.

      I could go on.

  2. Drummer April 3, 2018 at 5:33 am #

    This season is over and hopefully ( if ALS are correct ) is Short’s tenure at the helm of our club . Nearly 1/2 a billion spent on wages ,to be statistically the worst team in the whole of the 92 over 10 years will be his legacy . Hopefully we start afresh, building a team of honest local youngsters who want to play for us ,with the aim of becoming a solid , honest Championship side . Yes folks, our ambition will be to get back to square one and it won’t be easy .

  3. Ifos April 3, 2018 at 6:37 am #

    I was, briefly, tempted to go on Monday…but didn’t. We all knew what was going to happen and I dislike being emotionally manipulated, and told how to support SAFC, by PR employees and a man who has been at the club for a few months. I’ll return when I can watch players who give 100% every game, not when they feel like it. I’ll return when my money isn’t paying the likes of Cattermole and O’Shea and McGeady 20 to 30 grand a week to fail, again. I’ll return when the club isn’t the hobby/burden of an absent owner. I’ll return at that point, whether the club is in the Premier or the Northern league, because at that point it will be my club again.

    • malcolm April 3, 2018 at 8:11 am #

      Sums up my feelings Ifos except despite their limitations I would rather have a half dozen O’Sheas and Cattermoles on the pitch than Rodwells and Grabbans.

      Is O’Shea the unsettling presence in the dressing room some would have us believe? I don’t know but he at least tries when he’s picked. Cattermole as we know has been an idiot off the pitch in the past but he seems to have put that behind him though whether he’s still banned from pubs on Teeside I don’t know. And yes sometimes he is still a bit of an idiot on the pitch but at least he gives his all and wants others to do the same.

      But your words “I’ll return at that point because….. it will be my club again” hits the nail on the head.

  4. Mick Goulding April 3, 2018 at 8:42 am #

    Malcolm….yes I too have criticised the Director of Football model throughout Short’s tenure. But the escape under Allardyce left us with a healthy squad, full of confidence and playing good football. I saw them pre-season at Hartlepool, the day he got the England job, and I’ve never seen such a fit, sharp, and raring to go Sunderland team in August. From the moment Moyes arrived that all changed. It was Bain & Moyes who decided not to sign M’Vila – choosing instead to waste £13 million on N’Dong. It was Moyes who refused to play Khazri – one of out most effective players under Allardyce – etc etc. We went to shit and the rest is history.
    Certainly we weren’t great before that, and we failed to learn from any of our previous miracle escapes. But Allardyce left us in good shape. Our demise since the day he left – dropping straight through two divisions – is a remarkable collapse, by any standard.

  5. wrinkly pete April 4, 2018 at 1:10 pm #

    Thank you Pete for the best news this season – you are keeping the faith. One of the hidden gems of following The Lads has been discovering this superb website and your brilliant writing.

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