Last week I reacted in the strongest possible terms to the mealy-mouthed post-relegation statement from the Sunderland AFC hierarchy, and I’m delighted to learn that my blog post directly led to owner Ellis Short giving the club away for free to a consortium led by Eastleigh chairman Stewart Donald.
As I’m clearly on a roll influence-wise, I thought I should knock out a ten-point plan for the new owners to use as a kind of ‘bible’ as they look to rebuild my broken, beloved club…
Remove Martin Bain at once
The current CEO has been nothing more than a yes man for Ellis Short’s endgame strategy of starving the club of money in order to service the debt caused by years of shoddy management. The fact that they were arrogant enough to think we would thrive in the Championship with a transfer fund of just £1.2m still staggers me.
If Bain had actually made some kind of silk purse from the sow’s ear he was given to recruit players with, there might be a reason for keeping him.
But no – along with the departing Short (thanks for clearing the debt but don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out, Ellis), Bain needs to be sent packing and consigned to the darkest chapter of Sunderland’s history.
Appoint a manager now
Every minute counts – there’s the distraction of a World Cup coming up and the transfer window has been shortened from this summer, with deadline day on August 9th.
It took us weeks to persuade a manager to come to Wearside last summer and when Simon Grayson was finally unveiled as the ‘lucky winner’, there was hardly any time left for him to do any significant business.
The new regime needs to be more pro-active.
Deploy a bit of swagger
No offence to the rest of League One, but a new ownership needs to bring in a new, brasher attitude – we need to be giving the message that we’re not prepared to stick around in the third tier for long.
We need to hark back to Fulham’s 1998-99 campaign, when they acted like a club that didn’t belong there, with Kevin Keegan bringing in a string of signings from the two leagues above – something we should also be doing when it comes to summer recruitment.
We should be setting up a roadblock across the M6 stopping Steven Gerrard from getting up to Glasgow. Make an ambitious managerial appointment that makes a statement instead of seeking out a pragmatic boss who we think will construct a solid, efficient team for the level we’re at.
Our stadium and infrastructure is Premier League and that’s where we need to heading back to, as soon as possible.
Reward the loyal fans
It would take a few minutes to create a spreadsheet list of everyone who has bought a season ticket for the past two years of relegation hell.
And if they’ve already renewed for the coming season, give them their money back as a reward for the horror they’ve witnessed.
Get rid of Jack Rodwell
Whether it be by fair means or foul, get this feeble, £70k a week leech as far away from our club as possible.
I have some very detailed ideas as to how this could be actioned, but the PaddyPower lawyers have told me that I cannot include them in this piece.
Or, for that matter, say them out loud in public.
Ensure the academy is bolstered
The youth facilities at the Academy of Light are state of the art, but Jordan Henderson and Pickford aside, we haven’t produced enough decent graduates to justify its existence.
There’s a smattering of our recent successful under-23 crop coming into the first time now, but that’s more about the level we’ve sunk to than the standard of players we’re producing.
The new owners need to invest further in the academy and make it a long-term strategy, but understand that it could take another decade to come to fruition.
Strengthen the ties with the community
The football club is deeply embedded in the lives of the people of Sunderland, and the club needs to do more to respect that – and not just when things are going well.
This means more engagement with supporters groups, more public talk-in events and more players getting out into the schools.
There’s a lost generation of Sunderland fans out there as a result of years of dog-rotten football and we need them back if the club isn’t going to wither.
Make sure next season’s kit isn’t awful
This season’s candy-stripe atrocity may have its roots in the formative years of the club but it looks f***ing ridiculous.
Stop trying to be clever and get back to basics with the simple, classic red and white design.
Oh, and make it affordable for kids
That thing about the lost generation again. Last season’s home shirt was £50 for a tent-sized XXXL and a ridiculous £40 for one that would fit a seven-year-old.
The former needs abouy three times as much cloth to make as the latter, so top obsessing over profit and sell the kids’ shirts for £15 each.
Admittedly the young ‘uns will need a larger size for match days as they’ll have to wear the shirts over three layers of clothing to help cope with the freezing North East coast climate.
Give me a job
Obviously, all of the above ideas are guaranteed to succeed, but I also have three more, which are secret and which I am calling the ‘golden ideas’.
If you’re reading this, Stewart Douglas, simply put me on Jack Rodwell’s contract and those ideas could be yours.