For the time in years, Sunderland are starting to find their feet once again. Indeed, while life under Jack Ross in League One has been far from perfect, the Black Cats are starting to resemble something looking like a well run football club for the first time in what seems like an eternity.
No Sunderland fan needs telling of the club’s decline in recent years and there are a myriad of reasons behind it. Financial mismanagement, poor recruitment and even worse managerial appointments are the most obvious, though it was the mess of Euro 2016 that set in motion Sunderland’s sudden slip down the footballing pyramid.
A moment in time: Sam Allardyce’s appointment as England manager
After Roy Hodgson’s team crashed out of the tournament at the hands of Iceland following that infamous night in Nice on the 27th June 2016, the usual cry for a root-and-stem rebuild of English football was made. Despite the fact that the Three Lions were in a transitional period, sewing some of the seeds that blossomed during their run to the World Cup semi-final earlier this year, the manner in which they lost in the round of 16 saw the FA move for a man many are now glad only had one game in charge.
It was a typically rash appointment after such an embarrassment and one that saw perhaps the best manager of Sunderland’s recent history leave just 9 months after penning a two-year-deal on Wearside.
Allardyce may have many successful fire-fighting missions on his impressive CV, though his work with Sunderland was perhaps the standout play. Upon his arrival in October 2015, the club looked as doomed as ever (which is saying something when you consider their previous campaigns, despite their great escapes) and, for once, didn’t hit the ground running.
Well, aside from a 3-0 destruction of bitter rivals Newcastle United in his second game in charge, though that seems to be common practice for the Mackems these days.
However, despite never really getting the new manager bounce usually so crucial in keeping teams afloat during a relegation battle, the former Bolton and Blackburn coach managed to keep the club in the most dramatic of fashions. A late run toward the end of the season after some promising January signings saw them retain their top-flight status at the expense of Newcastle, creating the kind of building blocks from which Allardyce could have taken the club on.
Even if some of the financial mismanagement had come to bite them under his watch, you wouldn’t back against Big Sam steadying the ship and pulling off some coups in the transfer market, as he had done in the January of 2016.
However, then Nice happened.
If England had gone out of the tournament in a more dignified fashion, the FA’s call may never have come. In fact, they’d already overlooked Allardyce for Steve McClaren years before and the backlash that sprung from his eventual appointment shows how poor a fit he was for the national team. Still, after losing in that manner, desperate times called for desperate measures.
After he left, Sunderland were forced to turn to David Moyes in a rather quick-fire appointment. Clearly, the Scot was a poor person to turn to, considering the fact he pretty much resigned the club to a relegation battle as soon as he walked through the door.
Euro 2016 was a nightmarish experience for English football. However, the Three Lions recovered, but Sunderland couldn’t.
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