Rob: a much-travelled Mackem

Rob Hutchison sees Sunderland away games a lot, a fact of life for many exiled down south. This is how he rated the season, ending lamely but exceeding his expectations after successive relegations. Check out best away days of the season as nominated by Rob’s son Louis and daughter Olivia at this link

Four fifty five pm on Sunday and it was done.

The season faded away in a whimper that was oh so Sunderland, snatching a defeat from the jaws of hope and optimism. I shut down social media and left the moment the whistle sounded, could not get out of there quick enough. Cut to an hour later on a train back to Ruislip filled with mixed supporters.

We were dire on the day and bottled it, lots of effort, huff and puff, but not much else. No quality, no one brave enough to stand up and be bold and take the game by the scruff of its neck and assert some authority. Everyone was awol on duty and we have more trips to places like Bury and Lincoln to look forward to.

Funnily enough, this season on the whole has been full of joy and fun. Living in the smoke, away days have been plentiful and enjoyable,visiting proper grounds steeped in history and tradition and going into every game with the expectation that we have a good chance of winning. There have been stinkers, Burton, Wycombe, Southend (so I’m told), and some rippers, Gillingham, Bristol Rovers, Pompey (playoff), and its been really enjoyable.

The team. Now then. 7/10 probably is nowhere near good enough for automatic promotion and that’s what what I’d score them. We lost four in 42 league games and then half of the last four, and it was that final furlong that did for us. Running out of steam and ideas. Ross probably gets a 7/10 for me too, inherited an horrific situation and did incredibly well to get us to Christmas there or thereabouts, but a rotten transfer window didn’t help us.

Will Grigg has been 70% fit since he arrived and we don’t know where to play him. The centre back pairings have been our undoing, just not good enough. Midfield is all industry and not enough guile or pace and without McGeady we looked insipid. Many of the elements are there, but it was a huge ask to overhaul the squad we had and get an automatic spot out of it.

The stigma of another season is League One is hard to swallow, but that’s where we’re good enough to play at the moment so it is what it is; there’s no god given right to anything better, and Ross deserves the opportunity to build on the foundations he’s laid. The owners have done a remarkable job in turning the ship around and get us to where we are off the pitch, cap doffed, and we should be in a healthy position for the coming season. The fans. Quite incredible. Average league attendance of 32,157. 12th best in the country, better than all but two Championship teams, and better than 11 (eleven) Premiership teams. Away atmosphere has been cracking everywhere we’ve been, it’s been enjoyable.

Has it been a success, well that’s debatable, no-promotion can be seen as a failure I guess, but all things considered, I’d probably have settled for it in August.

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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.

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