Jordans signpost new SAFC direction whilst Rodders wears 'ExPro'

Sunderland have spent a long time in the doldrums. Too long. But there has been lots to be proud of as it finally feels like it's slowly turning around.

by Matt_Crighton Thursday, 19 July 2018 07:13 PM Comments


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Like a learner driver attempting a three point turn for the first time, it's going to take a few shunts and bumps against the League One kerb, but it is starting to feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Our vibe is changing.

I remember writing words similar to this back before we even kicked a ball last season when we had Simon Grayson in charge. I also wrote a piece where I said I was concerned the likes of Barnet away were looming. Unfortunately for us, that didn't end up being too far from the truth. But me, I don't feel to disheartened. There are things to be proud of and excited as a Sunderland fan. Honestly, there really is.

The performance of the two Jordans, Pickford and Henderson, in the World Cup in Russia gave me the sort of glow of pride parents must get when they see their kids in their first nativity play, standing on a stage dressed up as a star.

From a footballing perspective, it was outstanding to see two academy products in the England starting 11 at a World Cup. Not just starting either. Excelling. I don't think I will forget the the saves Jordan Pickford made at the World Cup. It's only now that people are saying what Sunderland and more recently, Everton fans have been saying all along. The lad is an absolute class act. It is a credit to him that we are seeing the likes of German giants Bayern Munich linked with him although I reckon he could do a lot worse than to stay at Everton for a bit longer.

Same can be said for Henderson. Starting for England and being widely regarded as one of England's better performers in an England team which defied many peoples expectations.

Closer to home, with Stewart Donald in charge, we have a chairman with a refreshing outlook with a desire to communicate openly with fans of our club. I can't help but think that communication with your clubs fans shouldn't be a refreshing outlook. It should be a given. Nobody expects to be told every last detail about the club, but all we ask is to be kept in the loop of what's going on. Mr Donald is good at it.

The only other chairman who can be commended on such communication is fellow League One chairman Darragh MacAnthony of Peterborough United, who can also be seen using social media to talk to fans of the Posh regularly.

In Jack Ross, we have a young manager who has picked up accolades for his achievements in Scotland before he headed south and took control of SAFC. He is a manager who has joined us with his career on the upward trajectory, who knows what the club needs and, importantly for me, has a belief in youth and trying to bring our kids through.

We have some great young players at the minute and I think it's so important to nurture those, get them involved in the first team and hopefully Jack Ross is the man to do that. Our alleged pursuit of highly rated Liverpool forward Liam Millar is a good thing too. Hopefully this is the start of SAFC using their category one academy to their advantage.

The signing of Dylan McGeough was seen as a coup by many and the feeling by some was that he was a player who shouldn't be moving to a club in League One. He was a player good enough for the Championship so to get him here in a red and white shirt is a massive pat on the back to the club. If we end up getting Mo Eisa from Cheltenham Town, Charlie Wyke from Bradford City,  George Evans from Reading and Billy Sharp from Sheffield United, those are going to be five good players for this level. Sharp's experience and goalscoring abilities at this level could be massive.

The high earners are slowly leaving the club. Jack Rodwell has departed and has been spotted training with Premier League side Watford. I did have a little chuckle at the irony though of seeing him in the Watford training gear with the words 'ExPro' on the front. Khazri has joined St Etienne on a permanent basis, Papy Djilobodji has not returned to training but we're not paying him anyway and Lamine Kone will likely find a suitor sooner rather than later. The quicker we see the back of those, the better.

And there is one more thing which I must mention. The kit. Thank the lord that we have a kit that actually looks like Sunderland again. It is amazing how much a difference the kit can make. It really didn't feel like it was Sunderland in that butchers apron tosh that we wore last season. I remember Roy Keane coming to SAFC and one of the first things he wants to do was change the kit, with the attitude of 'look the part, be the part' and I fully agree.

It may not be a straightforward journey, but it seems we're getting there. Things are slowly changing for the better.

We're on our way...


Stewart Donald, Jack Ross, jordan-pickford, jack-rodwell, Jordan Henderson