It’s been a season of BBC buyouts, celebrity guests and unfortunate puns.
Another year, another rollercoaster of a season. It’s hard to believe 2018 is over already.
Thanks to the new-manager-boost, Sunderland are finally cooking with petrol and targeting promotion in the new year. I for one couldn’t be more excited and can’t wait to see The Lads back in the Championship.
The BBC’s decision to buy the Sunderland AFC over the summer raised a few eyebrows at the time, but looking back it made a lot of sense. Ellis Short was keen to sell, BBC One was desperate for something with a bit more “drama”, and the club needed someone to bankroll Jack Rodwell’s wages.
Naturally, there’ve been a few teething problems. . .
The company’s decision to dismiss Chris Coleman in favour of a Have I Got News For You style format where the manager changes every week was unfair on the Welshman. Still, Cookie’s a world-class manager and deserves bigger and better things. He should do well at Dundee United.
Managers who’ve taken part so far have ranged from Robbie Stockdale (“We’ve embraced the direction the club was heading in”) to Tim Sherwood (“It’s just banter, really”) to Alexander Armstrong (“This is beyond Pointless”).
The first eleven creatively worked around the BBC’s no-advert rule by removing shirt sponsors altogether and endorsed a series of products on ITV instead.
Personal favourites include Honeyman’s Sugar Puffs, McNairylea Dunkers and Donald Love’s Nutella partnership: Spread The Love.
Actually, maybe “favourites” is a bit strong.
The club’s transfer policy was also affected by the takeover. Particular scrutiny was given John O’Shea who handed himself a contract extension, and Brendan Rodgers who brought in Kolo Toure.
Hats off to Gary Lineker, mind. Mark Lawrenson at False Nine was a revelation.
But it’s not just current managers who’ve stolen the headlines. Even with West Ham in the relegation zone, I was gutted when I heard about David Moyes’ sacking.
In fairness, it wasn’t *really* his fault. He said so. And he was there and everything.
So that’s that. Best of luck to him as he lines up his application for the Leicester job.
Duncan Watmore’s return to first team action was everything we knew it would be – providing five goals in as many games before being recalled with faulty suspension.
Every fan on Wearside knew Lamine Kone’s potential when committed, so I’m sure everyone will join me in congratulating him in his dream move to Everton. Their bench has never looked so warm.
2018 also saw us wave goodbye to the Stadium of Light while important renovations take place (reseeding the turf with four-leaf clovers and topping up the pipes with holy water).
Instead the club opened up the decision to a Twitter poll to move to the National Glass Centre because "it's dead warm" and "it looks sound on TripAdvisor." Sunderland’s hierarchy also light-heartedly joked that this would “improve transparency within the club”. The FA are less convinced and have subsequently launched a disciplinary investigation with the Financial Services Authority.
In a season of bizarre twists and unlikely turns, it hard to imagine a club more out of sorts.
But still... at least we look more stable than last year.