Monsieur Salut writes: unfashionable as it is to praise the press or media more generally, I believe local and national writers and broadcasters covering Sunderland by and large do a good job. I think in particular of the Sunderland Echo‘s Phil Smith, the Chronicle‘s James Hunter and The Guardian‘s Louise Taylor but could mention a number of others. And for supporters who cannot get to many games, there is the excellent double act provided by BBC Radio Newcastle, Gary Bennett’s passionate and astute reading of a game complementing Nick Barnes‘s impeccable commentary.

Nick is a West Country man and could even find himself having to report on SAFC against his own Exeter City – currently fifth in League Two but with a game in hand on two clubs above them – next season. But 15 years of covering Sunderland have left their mark (how could they not?) and there’s obvious affection for the club and especially its fans. At Facebook, he generated a lively debate with this heartfelt appeal for a sense of togetherness, an end to understandable but unproductive vitriol.

Not every one of his Facebook ‘friends’ agreed – 89 comments have been posted as I write and range from ‘wake up and smell the bulls*** from the club; it stinks’ to ‘wonderful summation’.

Either way – or some way in between – Nick’s brief thoughts, reproduced with his consent, serve as a useful starting point for the 2017-2018 edition of Salut! Sunderland‘s the end-of-season reviews* …

So the season is all but over. Four matches left and Sunderland’s destination almost certainly League One.

Even if Sunderland pull off a miracle and stay up I for one will be glad for the season to end.

What has saddened me most over the past few months is the steady decline, not just of this great football club, but of the squabbling internecine factions that, rather than all pull together and try and look forward and propose practical and pragmatic ways of rebuilding for the future, have taken greater delight in the blame game.

Players such as John O’Shea and Lee Cattermole have been roundly condemned, only for those players then to lead the way at Derby County for example.

Chris Coleman has been castigated for having no tactical nous, for poor January signings, for an inability to motivate and then condemned on social media for ineptly substituting O’Shea against Norwich – when it turns out he was injured.

I’m not defending the players or Coleman per se – the point I’m making is the problems are so deep rooted and historical that this endless stream of vitriol and often ill informed comment is not only mostly juvenile it is actually damaging the profile of the football club.

The time to judge Coleman is next season when he’s given the tools to work with.

The time to judge the players is when we see who stays and who goes – then we’ll have an idea of who Coleman believes has the character and strength to rebuild Sunderland.

M Salut with Barnes and Benno at half time in a game we actually won, vs Fulham

I’ve heard and read so much that is just wrong I bang my head against the wall in frustration.

Rumour and speculation are as damaging as the rebukes. I understand the anger. I understand the frustration. I understand the hurt. But this fantastic football club needs the fans to pull together not fracture and disintegrate.

* The Salut! Sunderland end-of-season review series is open to all. If you have something about the season to get off your chest, this may be the place. Write to M Salut, if interested, at this e-mail address

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

4 Responses to “Salut! Sunderland’s 2018 end of season reviews: (1) Nick Barnes urges unity” Subscribe

  1. Tom April 16, 2018 at 11:09 am #

    Is the rallying call to fans to turn up and be the 12th man not just a myth in our case? Whereas I agree that in the past with Roker Park or the S.O.L. full and the place rocking, the players seemed to react accordingly and turn in a performance. However in recent times (and I agree it’s been over a few seasons so the current manager and players aren’t the only ones to blame), we are asked to turn up in numbers to lift the team, the team then fail to respond and lo and behold we re then told the S.O.L. is a difficult place to play because of the pressure. Someone, somewhere needs to make their minds up. I m sure like myself most fans after years of mismanagement are disenchanted and bewildered at how the owner and his appointed representatives have got so many things so badly wrong. Again, like me, most of the people still Love SAFC but need to let off a bit of steam because virtually every weekend, for a long time now, has been ruined by our performances and results. That’s how much it means to us the fans, it’s in the blood. We pray for a season when we don’t feel the need to moan and whinge every week. Next season perhaps! Everything crossed, here’s hoping. STID

  2. CSB April 17, 2018 at 1:32 pm #

    I think the majority of fans call it the way they see it. Unfortunately, the Club has chosen a path that largely entails little or no transparency on the inner workings, who is making the decisions and what the ‘Plan’ is.

    Rolling out Bain to set the record straight every six months is not sufficient and at any rate is the wrong person in the first place.
    Mr.Short bleating on about how the press get it wrong every 12 months is not enough, and ironically him and Bain having to do it is where the problem comes from in the first place.

    Its not surprising that wild speculation prevails, But Mr. Barnes’s sentiment is correct, We as a Club are bigger than all that, Short, Bain et al are not Sunderland AFC and never will be because that is the right of the supporters, they come and go with varying degrees of success but the support are the constant.

  3. Geoff Bethell April 17, 2018 at 9:31 pm #

    Difficult to get a perspective from out here in NZ but it seems to me that in the last few games Coleman has given the players a semi-free reign in order to judge them as footballers. The stats and match reports I’ve seen suggest that they have done well. No more of this 30% possession and 1 shot on target.

    Now we need to plug a few leaks and become a little more structured again. Had we gone down this path right from the start of the season we might have stayed up.

    My two biggest fears are that Coleman will leave of his own accord (surely to goodness he won’t be sacked???) and that circumstances outside playing matters will interfere.

  4. Tom Lynn April 20, 2018 at 7:58 pm #

    So utterly naive, Nick. Can I ask you when you finish commentating on SAFC, will you pay to watch the club on a regular basis home and away? Thought not.

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