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grayhawk
02 Jul 18 21:22
Joined:
Date Joined: 05 Oct 06
| Topic/replies: 29,275 | Blogger: grayhawk's blog
Well in case  the owld one doesn't  return i'm starting a new one....

Well done Vertonghen backers
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Report grayhawk July 24, 2022 9:19 PM BST
Idris Elba - he's like dog sh1t.... gets fookin everywhere Angry
Report morpteh mackem July 25, 2022 8:38 AM BST

Jul 24, 2022 -- 9:19PM, grayhawk wrote:


Idris Elba - he's like dog sh1t.... gets fookin everywhere


can he play right back ?

Report grayhawk July 25, 2022 10:05 AM BST
Grin...

Not a fan of these early starts M2...taxi booked for 8:30 on Sunday.
Report morpteh mackem July 25, 2022 10:17 AM BST
least you'll be there,  in doubt for me , mrs m's got the lurgy. Sad
Report grayhawk July 25, 2022 12:57 PM BST
Sad...Have you had it before?
Report grayhawk July 25, 2022 12:59 PM BST
Dan Childs in the R.Post pre-season pullout has us down to finish 7th LaughLaughLaughLaugh

He must knar summit i don't.
Report morpteh mackem July 25, 2022 1:16 PM BST

Jul 25, 2022 -- 12:57PM, grayhawk wrote:


...Have you had it before?


nah, still not got any symptoms, had to make me own meals etc Shocked ,  will test mesel on sunday morning.

Report grayhawk July 25, 2022 1:43 PM BST
M2...do you know if Chisholms have a season match bet coupon outside of the premier league teams?
Report morpteh mackem July 25, 2022 2:45 PM BST

Jul 25, 2022 -- 1:43PM, grayhawk wrote:


M2...do you know if Chisholms have a season match bet coupon outside of the premier league teams?


not sure, will be popping in tomorrow. see what can find

Report grayhawk July 25, 2022 3:52 PM BST
Thanks very much...
Report morpteh mackem July 25, 2022 3:59 PM BST
np
Report morpteh mackem July 26, 2022 10:52 AM BST
nowt in shops gray, weekend coupons plus ante-post league ones, didnt even see handicap one.
Report grayhawk July 26, 2022 11:19 AM BST
Cheers...saves me a journey
Report morpteh mackem July 26, 2022 2:25 PM BST

Jul 26, 2022 -- 11:19AM, grayhawk wrote:


Cheers...saves me a journey


will be in later today in morpeth ( was in guide post this morning ) , will check if any out, probs on friday too

Report morpteh mackem July 26, 2022 5:52 PM BST
been in, nowt new.
Report grayhawk July 26, 2022 11:09 PM BST
Thanks...
Report morpteh mackem July 28, 2022 9:37 AM BST
fitness test failed, nee match for me on sundayCry
Report ----you-have-to-laugh--- July 28, 2022 10:03 AM BST
Early season bail oot!


Get well soon Mr and Mrs mm
Report morpteh mackem July 28, 2022 10:23 AM BST

Jul 28, 2022 -- 10:03AM, ----you-have-to-laugh--- wrote:


Early season bail oot!Get well soon Mr and Mrs mm


cheers taGrin

Report grayhawk July 28, 2022 2:46 PM BST
SEB Grin
Report grayhawk July 28, 2022 2:48 PM BST
Do you HAVE to isolate nowadays or do they just advise?
Report morpteh mackem July 28, 2022 3:13 PM BST

Jul 28, 2022 -- 2:48PM, grayhawk wrote:


Do you HAVE to isolate nowadays or do they just advise?


it's just advice ( think its about 5 days recommended ) , i'm free to go to match but think it's not fare on people around me - could pass it on to someone vulnerable- reckon its rife now, be plenty there with it.

Report grayhawk July 28, 2022 3:50 PM BST
Well done M2..you never know you might test negative on Sunday morning.
Report morpteh mackem July 28, 2022 3:59 PM BST

Jul 28, 2022 -- 3:50PM, grayhawk wrote:


Well done M2..you never know you might test negative on Sunday morning.


doubt it, came up git big thick red line after 10 seconds Laugh

Report grayhawk July 28, 2022 5:53 PM BST
Don't think that display will be what they're expecting on Sunday....asking all fans to be in their seat by 11:45 for a 12:00pm KO  - it's the first game of the season and there's invariably season card teething problems and majority of the pubs have arny been opened since 10am....good luck with that Grin
Report morpteh mackem July 28, 2022 7:52 PM BST

Jul 28, 2022 -- 5:53PM, grayhawk wrote:


Don't think that display will be what they're expecting on Sunday....asking all fans to be in their seat by 11:45 for a 12:00pm KO

Report morpteh mackem July 28, 2022 7:53 PM BST
ko delayed judging by comments on smb
Report grayhawk July 28, 2022 8:46 PM BST
Grin The ghost of Jimmy Silly
Report Poppydog. July 29, 2022 10:19 AM BST
Big...... almost epic article on The Athletic today. Should be able to post it here
Report Poppydog. July 29, 2022 11:15 AM BST
How Alex Neil has got Sunderland back on the up: ‘We’re having a real go, just differently’

By Michael Walker
6h ago
Report Poppydog. July 29, 2022 11:28 AM BST
On the last Saturday in January, Sunderland travelled to Bolton Wanderers for a League One game that, if won, could have taken them top of the table and seemingly set to contend for automatic promotion.

Sunderland lost. Six-nil.

It was arguably the worst result in the club’s 143-year history, though some think the FA Cup exit away to non-League Yeovil Town in 1949 retains that distinction.

Sunderland were a top-tier club back then, whereas six months ago they were into a numbing fourth season in England’s third tier. Their diminished status, allied to the scale of Bolton’s victory, meant that result felt like a rupture. Twenty-four hours later, head coach Lee Johnson was removed.

Sunderland may still have appeared viable promotion candidates, but they had played four more games than the club a point above them in second place, Wigan Athletic, and two more than Rotherham United, the new leaders.

Moreover, Sunderland’s form was dipping — one (unconvincing) win in five. Plus, there had been other heavy losses — 4-0 away to Portsmouth, 5-1 at Rotherham, 3-0 at Sheffield Wednesday. Johnson’s team were the division’s top scorers but they had conceded more goals than Lincoln City, who were 18th.

And after Bolton, things got worse.

By the time Johnson was succeeded by Alex Neil on February 11, the form was one win in seven and, after a home defeat to MK Dons a week later, they dropped out of the play-off places. Their poor form would stretch to one win in 10 before a cathartic victory at Wigan in the final match of February.

Yet out of this recession, less than four months after that trip to Bolton, Sunderland won promotion.

An unbeaten 16-game run culminated in a play-off final triumph over Wycombe Wanderers at Wembley. Sunderland have not lost since that MK Dons match in mid-February.


It all means that on Sunday, against Coventry City, Sunderland play their first Championship fixture since May 2018. There will be a 35,000-plus attendance at the Stadium of Light.

Tentative optimism has replaced angry disillusion. There are worries not enough experience and goalscorers have been recruited since Wembley, but a general feeling on Wearside is that Sunderland have bottomed out.

There is fresh clarity in the ownership — Kyril Louis-Dreyfus now has a 51 per cent controlling shareholding — and while “sustainability” remains the key word inside the club, there has been investment on and off the pitch.

The Athletic sat down exclusively with five significant figures at the club — manager Neil, chief operating officer and board member Steve Davison, sporting director Kristjaan Speakman and players Elliot Embleton and Alex Pritchard (together) — to discuss how the club went from the historic low of Bolton to promotion in 16 weeks, and what comes next…


How was your Bolton experience and how do you explain that result?

Davison: “It was an awful day. When we got there, we weren’t confident in what our performance would be, though that clearly isn’t part of my remit. But we were concerned.

“It came after beating Portsmouth 1-0 and I wasn’t at that, but I watched it on TV and we didn’t play well. We’d had a couple of difficult performances in the lead-up to that game.

“There were elements of the performance that were disappointing beyond the result. We’d seen traces of them previously — the Portsmouth, Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday games were a cause for concern. We could be really good or really bad and that’s what the data suggested as well, so there was little consistency. Despite the fact we’d been winning some games, there’d been a deterioration over some time.”

Pritchard: “It was a sour moment. In football, these things happen. You go from winning 1-0 and being second in the league to getting beat 6-0.

“There were times when we could win 5-0. We could have gone to Bolton and won 3-0, like we did at Wigan, but then we could go to Rotherham and lose 5-1, or to Portsmouth and lose 4-0. So Bolton was one of them. It was maybe about getting the balance.”

Embleton: “Yeah, it felt like there was never an in-between. In the dressing room, some lads were fuming. A few lads said their bit. The manager and staff had their say. We’d had a bit of a bad spell, win 1-0, and then the next week get beat by six.”

Pritchard: “A few things were thrown around. It’s a high-stakes environment. High pressure, jobs and careers on the line, people who’ve only got a one-year contract. There are people fighting for their lives, you know? When you’re winning, it’s all good, but when you get beaten heavily, things happen.

“And you question yourself, don’t you? What are you bringing to a team that’s losing 6-0? We all play a part in it. I came on at 3-0, we lost 6-0. So…

“You have to learn quickly. You can’t dwell on it. We were second in the league, it was still in our hands.”

Neil: “I don’t remember where I was that day!

“What I remember is when I saw the result, it’s not the type of result big clubs get against them. Everybody had seen the demise of Sunderland over a period of years, but you know it’s not going to go down well. Yet Sunderland were doing well in the league, so it stood out.”

Did you expect the club to change manager? Did the club expect to change manager?

Pritchard: “I didn’t see it coming, especially where we were.

“We were still second in the league and going for automatic promotion. The others had games in hand, but then in seasons before we’ve had games in hand and not been able to capitalise. It’s not a given.”

Davison: “I don’t think it was the scoreline that was the issue, it was the performance, and other performances. You look beyond the scoreline. We weren’t seeing improvement and Bolton was ample demonstration of that.”

Neil: “I didn’t expect a job to become available. Then it did, and I enquired. Naturally, when you’re out of work you’re keeping tabs on what might change. ‘Is that particular club a good fit for me and do I have an appetite to go and work there?’. Equally, you need to find out what they’re thinking. I hadn’t fully made my mind up, I just wanted to speak to them. I imagine they did it with me and four or five other people.”

Pritchard: “It’s difficult. He (Johnson) brought me here. But football… what can you do? I gave him my all, it didn’t work out. Someone else comes in, and you go again. That’s just football. It’s hard.”

You had two games without a manager and lost both — at home to Doncaster Rovers (who were bottom of the table) and away to Cheltenham Town (17th of 24). Did the absence of a manager affect the team?

Pritchard: “It did have an effect. You can easily say that we should do it for ourselves as a team, stuff like that, but it’s difficult not having someone there to be the voice of the group.”

Kristjaan Speakman: “We try to be evidence-based in our approach — some of that is data, some of it isn’t — to try to have a clear picture on where we are and where we want to be and what the forecast is looking like. We just felt the forecast was not as positive as we wanted it to be. We called a board meeting and had a really good discussion over a number of hours.

“We’ve got a tracking process for coaches we feel are future coaches for Sunderland. It’s not something we spend a huge amount of time on, but intermittently it’s something we update and have data on. We had that in place, but out of respect for the coach we hadn’t made an approach to anyone before making a change. Naturally, that will draw criticism because the expectation is you should have a new coach ready to go the next day.

“We wanted to take stock and run a diligent process. It took 11, 12 days, but we felt it was really important to get the right person. When you see how things panned out, you could say it was the right process. When you explain it in depth to supporters, they understand.”

The appointment of Neil came the morning before AFC Wimbledon away. Why him, and what was his impact?

Speakman: “We were fixed on the fact that an upturn in our points-per-game ratio was our best way of navigating the play-offs. Alex was the best fit. He understood our head-coach model and how it was operating.

“Alex is a very aspirational coach and I don’t think he would have gone to League One for any other club. Had we stayed in League One, there’d be a question over whether he would have wanted to continue at that level. He’s a Championship coach, at a minimum.

“We knew he was a really good on-field coach and he was able to make an instant impact with the players, to demonstrate to his staff with clarity what he wanted. When players are in a period of uncertainty, people seek clarity and quick understanding. Alex was able to provide that. It gave him a footing to then implement more detailed ideas. The team evolved into top-two form.”


Embleton: “When a new manager comes in, there’s a different style of work. The lads bought into it pretty quickly. Our confidence still wasn’t sky-high, we had to work on that. We drew with Wimbledon, got beat by MK Dons (the following weekend) and drew with Burton (three days later), but our performances were starting to get better. Defensively, out of possession, we’d more of a solid base.”

Neil: “I made a presentation, what I’d done elsewhere, how I’d done it. It showed what I thought their shortcomings were and what I’d need to fix.

“They were conceding too many goals. The club regarded themselves as a pressing team, which I disagreed with — they were 16th in the league for pressing the ball. In the subsequent 20 games, they were No 1.

“Coming away from Wimbledon, there was a lot of work to do. No disrespect to Wimbledon, but they got relegated. I could see the work we’d done with the players wasn’t coming naturally. But it’s like anything, it’s a process and it would take time.

“At Wimbledon, the team was a bit young — our average age was 21-something; the average age of promoted teams is between 27 and 29. I knew some of the younger boys were burnt out, some of the older ones weren’t fit enough and some of the new signings hadn’t played much football. There were a lot of variables. In the meantime, you’ve to get results.

“In that period, playing at home was difficult. My first home game was MK Dons (a 2-1 defeat which is the last time Sunderland lost). The fans were unsettled, to say the least. In that first month, we spoke a lot about controlling the crowd. That was a big topic of conversation at half-time, before games, about how we get the crowd in our favour. The matchday fans have more influence than any other club I’ve been at. That’s how much of an asset it can be.

“We took control of it, that’s the big thing. Fans react to what they see and when they see it’s positive, they’ll respond in kind. Going to Wembley, seeing the support and the atmosphere they created for us, it was huge in helping us.”

By late February, Sunderland had fallen to sixth, 10 points off Wigan, who were second with games in hand. None of Neil’s first three games had been won. Next was Wigan away. Sunderland won 3-0.

Pritchard: “If you lose that game, it could be decisive.”

Embleton: “I thought we could win it, definitely. We’d beaten them twice in the season (including a Carabao Cup tie).”

Davison: “Interesting. As with Bolton, I was in the car, with my wife and Kristjaan. We could feel significant changes were being made by Alex even if the results weren’t showing. We were confident in that.

“And we’d played Wigan twice and won. So I went with a decent amount of optimism. We got an early goal, which was massive, and it turned into a pivotal point in our season.

“No matter what business, if you have a good outcome, which is what the Wigan result was, then it gives everybody confidence that we’re doing the right thing. All credit to Alex and the players for the run they went on as, importantly, it gave people confidence in the rest of the business.”

Neil: “I was confident we could go and win. We played differently against Wigan than against any other team all season. We sunk into a 4-4-2 mid-block.

“I don’t think vindication entered my mind. There were two things: belief for the players in the messages I give them; and for the fans.”

Pritchard: “The manager said we didn’t have to press ridiculously, didn’t have to leave our slots. We had Rosco (Ross Stewart) up front running and he’d to show defenders into certain areas. That’s what we did, they played long and down the line and we ate it up. We had space to break but we scored three goals from three set pieces, they weren’t open-play goals.”


Embleton: “To go and beat them 3-0 when they’re up there going for automatic promotion, it gave us confidence that maybe we’d not had before. It was a massive difference from Bolton. Around the place, coming into training, the lads were buzzing.”

Speakman: “What I’ll say about our playing group is that they have been second to none in their conduct and application. They were excellent around the change.

“Were they nervous, distressed? Of course. But their professionalism and quality told. They did so well in that period where we didn’t get the win, it gave us a platform once we got that victory and Alex had his feet under the table. But there wasn’t anything off the pitch that Alex had to fix in terms of the culture of the group. They deserve credit for that.

“I always feel momentum has a big part to play. When you’re struggling to get a win and then you do get the win, confidence comes back in. Momentum then starts to roll and becomes unstoppable. After Wigan, the team was able to enjoy those moments.”

Embleton: “The last-minute goals changed things.”

In three consecutive games in early April, against Gillingham, Oxford United and Shrewsbury Town, Sunderland scored winners in the 89th minute or added time. They were a changing team — goals conceded dropped from 1.3 per game under Johnson to 0.7 under Neil; pressing stats showed Sunderland were allowing opponents approximately four passes before an interception when it had been around eight. Wearside’s mood was changing, too.

Pritchard: “Oxford was massive, wasn’t it?”

Embleton: “Shrewsbury: we’re 2-0 up in the first half, have a wobble, but we score again in the last minute — 3-2. From then on the lads felt… dunno, we just kept going. When you score those late goals more than once, you feel like you have an edge. It’s in your head.”

Pritchard: “And the other team look at it. I always looked at Wigan — they scored after the 75th minute every week. So you become, ‘Wigan will score. Wigan will score’. And maybe people became, ‘Sunderland will score’. Towards the end, it was a bit like that. It gets to the fans as well — it’s never over and they like that feeling: Never give up.”

Neil: “A big turning point for me was Oxford, because we didn’t play particularly well. Oxford had worked together for three or four years and were very good at what they did.

“We had grit, determination, structure and discipline to see us over the line. I don’t think we’d have been able to do that initially. If you can play poorly and win… that’s what promoted teams do. I’ve watched a lot of Rotherham and Wigan (the two sides who went up automatically) and they didn’t play well in every game. But they did enough.

“Every team I’ve had has been different and I’ve coached them differently because of that. My Preston group, we focused on not having the ball — a lot. Here, I focus on us not having the ball about 10 per cent of the time. So 90 per cent of our work is on how we play to win the game. Against Oxford, we weren’t quite ready to dominate.

“In that spell, and this is probably going to sound patronising and I don’t mean it to be, I probably over-estimated the league. I’d been used to setting up against Championship teams. What I learned was I needed the opposition to come out and have spells in the game to attack us, so they would leave the space for us to hurt them. That was new to me. I had to adjust.

“The second thing was that in nearly every game we won, we altered the shape of the personnel during the match. I’ll opt for the skill set that best suits a game. We played Gillingham and I brought Danny Batth back in because Gillingham are physical and he’s 6ft 4in (193cm) and wins headers.

“The squad then feel so important and that creates a healthy team spirit. The group had a selflessness about them by then. The players knew a particular game might be suited to them but maybe not the next week. Jack Clarke, for example, had done his job against Sheffield Wednesday (in both legs of the play-off semi-final). I dropped Jack out for the final and brought Elliot Embleton back in. I felt we were going to play inside Wycombe’s shape and we’d need ‘inside’ players.

“Selflessness is rare. It comes from success, doesn’t it? It worked so often and it allowed the message to get stronger. It creates a belief and togetherness that’s hard to manufacture.”

Speakman: “We’ve seen teams such as Man United in Fergie Time being renowned for having a resolve to win a game at any cost, at any stage, and we had that feeling about the group. The group looked as if it couldn’t lose. That’s hard work, great coaching, great preparation, the players being in a good spot and never giving up. We showed Championship qualities in those last 15, 16 games.”

Sunderland finished fifth, six points off automatic promotion. They faced Wednesday in the play-offs and 45,000 were at the first leg at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland won 1-0 but should have scored more. How did it feel?

Pritchard: “We had chances to win 2-0 or 3-0 and it would have been about shutting up shop at their gaff. But 1-0, you’re going ‘Oh, ****!’ — and a bit more. I knew what was coming in the second leg. I’ve been to their gaff and it’s not nice. We’d lost 3-0 at Wednesday earlier in the season.”


Watch the 2nd leg of Sheffield Wednesday vs Sunderland (0-1) on SS Football at 7:30pm
Report Poppydog. July 29, 2022 11:28 AM BST
That was a lot of formatting for this forum.
Report Poppydog. July 29, 2022 11:30 AM BST
Just noticed it didn't copy and paste it all. There must be a word character limit.
Good job I copied it before posting. The rest now..........
Report Poppydog. July 29, 2022 11:31 AM BST
Sunderland finished fifth, six points off automatic promotion. They faced Wednesday in the play-offs and 45,000 were at the first leg at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland won 1-0 but should have scored more. How did it feel?

Pritchard: “We had chances to win 2-0 or 3-0 and it would have been about shutting up shop at their gaff. But 1-0, you’re going ‘Oh, ****!’ — and a bit more. I knew what was coming in the second leg. I’ve been to their gaff and it’s not nice. We’d lost 3-0 at Wednesday earlier in the season.”


Watch the 2nd leg of Sheffield Wednesday vs Sunderland (0-1) on SS Football at 7:30pm
Report Poppydog. July 29, 2022 11:32 AM BST
Not working
Report Poppydog. July 29, 2022 11:34 AM BST
Sunderland finished fifth, six points off automatic promotion. They faced Wednesday in the play-offs and 45,000 were at the first leg at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland won 1-0 but should have scored more. How did it feel?

Pritchard: “We had chances to win 2-0 or 3-0 and it would have been about shutting up shop at their gaff. But 1-0, you’re going ‘Oh, ****!’ — and a bit more. I knew what was coming in the second leg. I’ve been to their gaff and it’s not nice. We’d lost 3-0 at Wednesday earlier in the season.”

Watch the 2nd leg of Sheffield Wednesday vs Sunderland (0-1) on SS Football at 7:30pm  pic.twitter.com/QnvT2It6U4

Davison: “Wednesday at home was important, because it really demonstrated to all the owners — Kyril and his family and the new board of directors we’ve had in place — what the club can be. It gave them a vision of what we could become. That maybe goes unsaid.

“I’ve been a (Sunderland) fan all my life and I’ve been to many games like that, but the fact is we’ve been in League One all the time Kyril has owned the club. So this was special, very special. I said at the time it will go down as one of the great games in Sunderland’s history… as long as you get through the second leg and win the final. That’s how it will be perceived.”

At Hillsborough three days later, Wednesday scored in the 74th minute to make it 1-1 on aggregate. Then Patrick Roberts scored in the third minute of added time to equalise on the night and take Sunderland to Wembley.

Is that the goal that sends Sunderland to Wembley?!  pic.twitter.com/hAll7n1qfe

Embleton: “Another late goal.”

Pritchard: “Before the game, the manager said we were going to attack and go to win it, which was probably the best.”

Neil: “I love the big games, the big occasions. The key moment was when I went from being concerned but confident to knowing we’d done it — Sheffield Wednesday away. When we conceded, at that point, questions naturally get asked. How much grit do we have? It was tested to the full. Everything was in their favour, their crowd was up. But our reaction was a defining moment for me, we showed a lot of character. It’s easy to give up at that point. That was the moment.”

Victory over Wednesday meant the League One play-off final against Wycombe, who beat MK Dons in the other tie. If Sunderland lost at Wembley, there would be a fifth dismal season in the third tier and an understandable drop-off of fans and interest. But Embleton, who had played on loan for Blackpool as they won the previous year’s League One final, scored an early opener, with Stewart doubling the lead on 79 minutes. It finished 2-0 in front of 50,000 supporters from Wearside.

Should Stockdale have done better? #SUNvWYC pic.twitter.com/80tL3Jl1Ma

Embleton: “Winning at Wembley the year before meant I’d good memories of being there, so I was buzzing like. I was ready.”

Pritchard: “Don’t think they (Wycombe) weren’t ready as well, though. They’d played all season for this one. So they were ready. I don’t think you can say we wanted it more than them. No chance. We just played the better stuff and scored two goals.”

Embleton: “We had become a different team because we went 16 games unbeaten when, before that, we’d won one in 10. The way the manager set us up game-to-game, tactically, was brilliant.”

Pritchard: “As much as you might not like it when you’re not playing, he’s doing what he’s doing for the betterment of the team. Against Rotherham, I didn’t play and I was a bit, ‘Aww…’ then you realise why you didn’t play.”

Embleton: “You’ve got to trust him.”

Pritchard: “We’ve both been through it, not playing. But you buy into it and things happen. You earn it together. That was the biggest thing.”

Davison: “Wembley was a special weekend. I was more confident about this visit than any other of the half-dozen I’ve been to. My mum, Millie, is 90, she’s been a Sunderland supporter all her life — my grandad was the person who really got me into football. He’d walk to Roker Park in the 1920s.

“I was determined to get my mum to the game, so we got her a taxi there and back from Cambridge. She’d a great day. She has difficulty seeing but she loved the atmosphere. She was overwhelmed. That was special.”

Sunday marks Sunderland’s return to the Championship. Only Embleton, then 19, featured in the club’s previous game in the second tier, a 3-0 home win over Wolves on May 6, 2018. This summer window has brought some new faces, but Sunderland have not and will not spend lavishly under the Louis-Dreyfus board. Sustainability and consolidation are the key words. Externally, however, some think Sunderland are not having ‘a real go’ in the transfer market.

Davison: “Can I just interrupt you there. We are having a real go. I do think that’s something that needs to be understood. We’re just not doing it the way everybody else is doing it.

“A real go is what we do in the long-term, not the short-term. You could have an owner who throws millions at it and that could be considered ‘having a real go’, but unless you sustain those millions of pounds, what actually have you achieved? And we’ve done that before at this club.

“What people need to understand is that in the model we’re adopting, you go through incremental progression based on financial sustainability. We have an absolute ambition to never put the club at risk through inappropriate spending.

“We want to invest in players we can add value to. There may well be times when we have to sell, but we will re-invest. We will always be re-investing in the football side. That has to keep progressing year on year; we’re not going to throw money at it. Many of our comparator clubs are spending more than 100 per cent of their revenue on wages and that is not a model we will follow.

“Realistically, we would be delighted with a top-half finish. Consolidation is the key word. That would be our ambition — for this year only. We have got to be respectful of the fact, let’s be honest, that we haven’t competed in the Championship for — I would argue — 17 years. Because the year we were in it, when we went straight down, we didn’t compete. There are many more clubs suited to the rigours of the league than us. We’ve to adapt. In our minds, we’d do a little bit better each year to get into the Premier League.”

Neil: “The big picture is that as a club we’ve got to understand where we have been for the last four or five years. That’s really important. All people need to do is look at how much our squads have cost in the past five years and how much it’s declined year-on-year. We needed to do that for the club to get anywhere near being sustainable.

“We’re not taking massive leaps to get to the top, we’re taking small, gradual steps. It’ll take time and patience. Not just because they’re the first game of the season, but one of the best ones you can look at, given where they were and are now, is Coventry. A few seasons ago, Coventry didn’t have a stadium or a training ground, not many assets in the team (Coventry were a League Two side as recently as 2017-18). Slowly and surely, they’ve improved year on year. They’ll be looking to finish in the top 10 this season.

“But this is how difficult the Championship is — in the last four seasons, the teams that won the League One play-off final, three of them were relegated (a year later). The only one to survive was Blackpool. That isn’t opinion, it’s fact.

“Our squad last year was the cheapest squad we’ve ever had. It wasn’t short on talent, but in terms of finance, we had to get some decent order. We’re still short. That’s the fact of the matter and I’ve said it. I’m not sure people want to hear it. You want to be optimistic — you don’t want to be a killjoy — and we’ve got some really good, talented players. Equally, we have a lot of players, maybe three-quarters of the squad, who haven’t played in the Championship. A lot are young, some have just had their first full season and some are about to have theirs.”

Speakman: “When I was installed, it was to try to create a playing identity that was going to be interesting to watch for fans and spectators. A lot of the feedback I’d received was that in the previous two years, Sunderland had tried to draw games or nick a win and that wasn’t palatable to the support. So we made a decision to settle on an identity based around creative, industrious, bold football, which resonated with the community, and it must resonate with the community.

“Therefore you’ve to play controlled, attacking football and you’ve got to have the players to do that. We felt that if we had everything correct we would achieve promotion.

“We didn’t want a high turnover of players, potentially changing the style of play. There are statistics that show certain types of teams stay in the Championship. We’ve now a team rolled over from League One that’s retained nearly 70 per cent of its playing minutes and retaining a group of players who we believe can play at that level is also a huge factor, rather than having huge change.

“At the same time, we’re trying to recruit players on the up. You have to keep evolving the squad, but we’re really happy with the squad. We are working hard to add some points of difference to it.

“What we don’t want is to sacrifice the main task, which is staying in the league — for the evolution of the business and the club. After that, we can assess where we need to deploy resources and how we chart our way to the top of the league because, with all due respect, it’s Sunderland Football Club, we’re not here just to take part.

“While we might have to swallow that to a degree in the first season, it won’t take too long for ourselves to work out how to get out of the league. For that, we will have to out-perform clubs with (Premier League) parachute payments. We’re holding a different economic position, but we’re holding it because we think it will be successful in the longer term.”

Pritchard: “It’s exciting, I feel I’m back where I belong. I’m buzzing. You look at the games, the clubs, the stadiums and crowds you’re going to get in the Championship. You can’t rest, there’s big games every week. There’s five subs, so we’ve all got to be ready.”

Embleton: “The club’s had a few tough years. I was around the place when we were in the Premier League, then when we got relegated, then when we got relegated from the Championship. League One, we struggled to get out of it. Then, eventually we do it.

“Now everyone’s buzzing and it’s not as if there’s a relegation hanging over us, like there was when we came down from the Premier League. We’ve been promoted. We’ve been winning. We’re on the way up.”
Report Poppydog. July 29, 2022 11:36 AM BST
Finally (plus comments)
Nick G.

4h ago

1 like


Like
1


Reply
Interesting read! I expect Sunderland’s wish for consolidation will be achieved - a good start will be imperative in my opinion, especially getting that first win. The Championship is absolutely bonkers which is fantastic for the neutral, and I think there’s always some teams who end up having a nightmare campaign, which will also aid Sunderland’s progress.

Johannes R.

3h ago


Some awesome quotes in there (especially from Alex Neil) but what is this nonsense? 'We were fixed on the fact that an upturn in our points-per-game ratio was our best way of navigating the play-offs.' That's something for the Football Cliches podcast.

Charles M.

1h ago


Yes, Speakman has a tendency to sound like a sub-standard middle-management textbook. He’s done a pretty good job, though. I think what he was trying to say is that Neil’s appointment was a question of head, not heart, when most of the fans were rooting for Roy Keane.

Martin G.

2h ago


I do find it interesting that the staying in the league target and being pleased with top half stuff is being said after 32,000 season tickets have been sold . In addition the off field investment may seem illusory to those supporters who have paid for season tickets three months ago and haven’t received them and are now being asked to queue for them 48 hours before a game . The narrative of sustainability is a powerful one but does allow them to drift in a division that we win often when we are in it

Charles M.

48m ago


Excellent article. Especially encouraging to hear the players talk about the positivity within the group and the acceptance that they may not get a game if particular opponents require a different setup.

Also extremely sensible of Neil and the rest of the hierarchy to manage expectations. Despite four years in League One too many of our fans think that anything short of promotion this season will represent failure. But believing we’re too big a club to fail, and chucking money around without a plan, nearly led to extinction. Incremental improvement will do me. Brighton is the example that clubs like Sunderland should be trying to follow.

There’s still a lot to be done to repair the damage done by the Donald/Methven regime. Staffing cuts have left the admin in a shambles, as evidenced by the club’s apparent inability to deal with the demand for season tickets. But that should be easy to fix. Year-on-year improvement on the pitch and everything else follows.
Report morpteh mackem July 29, 2022 11:39 AM BST
good stuff, cheers pd
Report grayhawk July 29, 2022 1:20 PM BST
Aye i'd read it earlier.....interesting points for me are by Neil.



They thought they were a pressing club when actually they were 16th in the league for pressing.....over the the next twenty games they were number one in the league.

The more you read about him you can see he's a very deep thinker about how he sets up his team for each INDIVIDUAL game.
Report morpteh mackem July 29, 2022 1:36 PM BST

Jul 29, 2022 -- 1:20PM, grayhawk wrote:


Aye i'd read it earlier.....interesting points for me are by Neil.They thought they were a pressing club when actually they were 16th in the league for pressing.....over the the next twenty games they were number one in the league.The more you read about him you can see he's a very deep thinker about how he sets up his team for each INDIVIDUAL game.


Thats what like about him its horses for courses, people accuse him of overthinking and that's possibly true ( rotherham at home ?  ) , but i'd rather someone overthought  than underthought . There's plenty of those managers about.

Report grayhawk July 30, 2022 6:23 PM BST
Been watching  some of the first coupla live Championship games....constantly googling players to see who they are ....the majority i've never even heard of Blush since we dropped outta Prem.....both Boros wingbacks and the Aussie in midfield are some for starters
Report morpteh mackem July 30, 2022 6:56 PM BST

Jul 30, 2022 -- 6:23PM, grayhawk wrote:


Been watching

Report morpteh mackem July 30, 2022 7:01 PM BST
ffs, meant to say not many gurls in champ  today, continuation from last season perhaps.
Report Trackman July 30, 2022 7:12 PM BST
Aye but there was knee Ross StewartLove in this league last season
Report Trackman July 30, 2022 7:16 PM BST
Six more weeks Grayhawk.....lets go !
Report grayhawk July 30, 2022 7:27 PM BST
Tracker knars...GrinWink
...is everyone unloading on the Bills Grin
Report grayhawk July 30, 2022 7:28 PM BST
Be goals tomorrow M2...unfortunately i fancy the Sky Blues to score at least two.
Report morpteh mackem July 30, 2022 7:47 PM BST

Jul 30, 2022 -- 7:28PM, grayhawk wrote:


Be goals tomorrow M2...unfortunately i fancy the Sky Blues to score at least two.


will start off well,  1 nowt up, cov equalise just before ht, finish game strongly, class gap will tell and will score late on.

Report grayhawk July 30, 2022 7:55 PM BST
Think we'll struggle in the full back positions and central midfield in this league....also think we'll struggle for goals.

Goalie is promising but his decision making when the balls in the air needs to improve....( only a bairn so has plenty of time on his side  )

Apart from that we'll be right as rain Grin



But saying all that isn't it great to be outta that league below HappyHappyHappy
Report grayhawk August 3, 2022 11:49 AM BST
See that photo on the Mick Harford thread on RTG...St Josephs under 13 school team...Micky Hazard,Mick Harford and Kevin Dillon all on the same team....fancy being in the opposition team and saying afore the game " oh we'll wopp these today " LaughLaughLaugh
Report morpteh mackem August 3, 2022 1:44 PM BST
didnt see it, thats some line-up
Report morpteh mackem August 3, 2022 6:11 PM BST
fund it, also  lad in back row called paul mariner.
Report grayhawk August 3, 2022 6:56 PM BST
Aye saw that anall Grin
Report Poppydog. August 6, 2022 4:59 PM BST
What a great result.

Looked to struggle either side of half-time, but we were brilliant from 60-80mins.
Simms looked decent - their keeper made some decent saves.

Block from Ballard at the end was vital - sure it was going in.
Report grayhawk August 6, 2022 5:45 PM BST
Haven't seen it bit cracking result....at least we're showing we can compete Happy..with players still to come in
Report grayhawk August 6, 2022 5:46 PM BST
* but cracking
Report SontaranStratagem August 6, 2022 5:56 PM BST
4 points from 2 and been decent by the sounds of it.

Top 6 a chance with 1 or 2 shrewd signings
Report grayhawk August 6, 2022 6:30 PM BST
No chance for me SS....just give me a season free from relegation worries and i'll be happy.

A welcome to the big league day for your lads today?

We had one of them in our first game back after Peter Reids second promotion....Chelsea thumped us 4-0 away....turned out a good season in the end.
Report SontaranStratagem August 6, 2022 11:14 PM BST
Oh for sure

Shows the gulf in class from the champ to the prem, its a massive jump and our lads looked way of it today

i think its made us reflect and survival would be a great season
Report grayhawk August 8, 2022 9:13 PM BST
Like the look of West Brom...about two levels above us
Report morpteh mackem August 9, 2022 9:35 AM BST

Aug 8, 2022 -- 9:13PM, grayhawk wrote:


Like the look of West Brom...about two levels above us


bruce be sacked in november

Report grayhawk August 9, 2022 11:10 AM BST
Think so....was impressed with West Brom....look like a promotion side on last nights performance
Report morpteh mackem August 9, 2022 12:40 PM BST

Aug 9, 2022 -- 11:10AM, grayhawk wrote:


Think so....was impressed with West Brom....look like a promotion side on last nights performance


difficult to tell tbh, dont look packed full of gurls.

Report grayhawk August 10, 2022 7:04 PM BST
Looking at sides Sheff Wed look a decent price @ 2.36
Report grayhawk August 10, 2022 7:38 PM BST
Absolutely Micky Gray....
Report morpteh mackem August 10, 2022 7:45 PM BST

Aug 10, 2022 -- 7:04PM, grayhawk wrote:


Looking at sides Sheff Wed look a decent price @ 2.36


aye,  think we will be quite disjointed tonight.

Report grayhawk August 10, 2022 8:49 PM BST
Struggle to see a more boring 45 than that...cracking goal mind
Report grayhawk August 10, 2022 8:56 PM BST
Shocking this mind..
Report morpteh mackem August 10, 2022 9:44 PM BST
****, and peoples paid good money for that
Report grayhawk August 11, 2022 9:54 PM BST
Aye gotta feel for people shelling out their hard earned for that....

Shows how much work we still gotta do in this window...let's hope there's at least one central midfielder coming in cos a coupla injuries there and we're in a season long relegation battle at best
Report morpteh mackem August 12, 2022 1:40 PM BST

Aug 11, 2022 -- 9:54PM, grayhawk wrote:


Aye gotta feel for people shelling out their hard earned for that....Shows how much work we still gotta do in this window...let's hope there's at least one central midfielder coming in cos a coupla injuries there and we're in a season long relegation battle at best


aye, its our weak spot

Report grayhawk August 12, 2022 3:04 PM BST
Looking forward to your first foray tomorrow M2?......i'm even contemplating discarding the parka afore KO  Silly

Us east standers will be burnt to a crisp come 10 to 5....#scorchio
Report dr . atkins August 12, 2022 3:50 PM BST
hope you are all well,thought 4 from bottom would be a result this season
Report grayhawk August 12, 2022 3:58 PM BST
How do Doc...was just thinking we haven't seen much of you lately.....yep so long as not in relegation fight is a success.

I see your mate has a few trained in this country again.
Report morpteh mackem August 12, 2022 4:47 PM BST

Aug 12, 2022 -- 3:04PM, grayhawk wrote:


Looking forward to your first foray tomorrow M2?......i'm even contemplating discarding the parka afore KO

Report morpteh mackem August 12, 2022 5:48 PM BST
meeting  12 in fitzies, might try roof terrace in cooper rose too , trains on dick van **** the morra northern  ok, lner off.
Report grayhawk August 12, 2022 8:36 PM BST
Aye seen that...mind could dee with resurrecting the old Durham-Sunderland line for us out of towners.....scandalous that in this day and age there isn't a direct link Angry

Should be in Chaplins for 11:15 ...we went in Cooper Rose early for first game but never tried the roof terrace
Report morpteh mackem August 13, 2022 9:01 AM BST
could be a day for shortsMischief
Report grayhawk August 13, 2022 9:10 AM BST
Nah ...i'll just stick to pints ta very much...dinnit wanna get owwer dehydrated
Report morpteh mackem August 13, 2022 9:16 AM BST
meant wearing themLaugh
Report grayhawk August 13, 2022 9:30 AM BST
I knar that man Grin
Report morpteh mackem August 13, 2022 9:44 AM BST
Plain
Report morpteh mackem August 13, 2022 9:45 AM BST
Grin
Report Trackman August 13, 2022 10:44 AM BST
Fkin Smith & Jones these two Cry
Report grayhawk August 13, 2022 10:56 PM BST
Grin
Report grayhawk August 13, 2022 11:03 PM BST
We were that late goal specialists last season....hope it's not gonna be the boot on tother foot this season....Sad

Gotta say i'm enjoying the games so far ( that might all change after two away games this week Grin

Keep the two lads up front fit all season and they could do some damage....not often you come up against two lads as big who are as mobile as they are...can both shift anall
Report grayhawk August 13, 2022 11:03 PM BST
Ballard could be a big miss Sad
Report morpteh mackem August 14, 2022 9:39 AM BST

Aug 13, 2022 -- 11:03PM, grayhawk wrote:


Ballard could be a big miss


didnt look good, cant understand why onien came on when got  2 cds on bench

Report grayhawk August 14, 2022 11:42 AM BST
This is his reasoning M2 ....  https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/alex-neil-expla...
Report morpteh mackem August 14, 2022 4:50 PM BST
cheers gray

the lab up and runningCool
Report grayhawk August 14, 2022 6:09 PM BST
Well done M2....i'm currently in the midst of a terrible run during the worst year i've had for over 15 years CryCryCry
Report grayhawk August 14, 2022 6:11 PM BST
Did Thomas Tuchel pick his sons strides out when getting changed this morning...i knar it's fashionable but any further up he'll be wearing short trousers
Report dr . atkins August 14, 2022 6:35 PM BST
hello grayhawk betfair give me the red card from betting so ne bother coming on anymore but looks like will get ban from forum but dont give a toss but hope you and the rest of the lads on forum doing well
Report morpteh mackem August 14, 2022 6:48 PM BST

Aug 14, 2022 -- 6:35PM, dr . atkins wrote:


hello grayhawk betfair give me the red card from betting so ne bother coming on anymore but looks like will get ban from forum but dont give a toss but hope you and the rest of the lads on forum doing well


stop winningGrin

Report grayhawk August 14, 2022 6:51 PM BST
Cheers Doc...
Report dr . atkins August 14, 2022 6:52 PM BST
21 years on betfair and in profit and they said i could be a problem gambler the worlds gone mad
Report grayhawk August 14, 2022 7:13 PM BST
No way of getting them to change their mind?
Report morpteh mackem August 14, 2022 7:39 PM BST
aye, start losing s hitloads.
Report grayhawk August 14, 2022 8:22 PM BST
Well that system's working for me at the mo CryGrin
Report dr . atkins August 14, 2022 8:51 PM BST
balding got a very nice 2year old first time out running in group 3 weds york its looks a poor race for group 3
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