Sunderland supporter Michael Bowers (@MichaelBowers15) was kind enough to pen his thoughts on the current state of play at The Stadium of Light prior to the Canaries encounter with the Black Cats. A huge thank you to Michael.

Firstly, I want to say that I am a huge fan of the channel and have read articles on the website. I think the content that Jack, Chris, Connor etc. produce every week is top draw and the TNC podcast in particular is the only non-Sunderland podcast I listen to. The guests have been stellar and even when it is just Jack & Chris, the conversation just naturally flows and they seem genuine. In general, keep up the good work!

I remember feeling extremely low when Norwich last came up to the Stadium of Light and beat us 3-1. Let get this straight: Norwich should have won by more really and 3-1 was a flattering score to Sunderland. But I’d like to point out a comment Jack made after your loss at Millwall which was it was humiliating to watch your team get comfortably beat by a team who finished sixth in League One the previous season.

Norwich didn’t even finish in the top two when promoted to the Premier League in 2015 so the feeling was a bit similar to: ‘we’ve lost comfortably to a team who couldn’t even go up automatically’. But that’s no disrespect to Norwich by the way and they’re definitely ahead of us on and off the pitch at this point in time.

With players like Timm Klose, James Maddison and Nelson Oliveria amongst others, I fully expected your lot to at least challenge for a top six place this season, despite the change in style of football. For me, Norwich underperformed last season and, with Daniel Farke having had a transition period under his belt, there’s really no excuse to not be challenging next season.

Watching Leicester win the league was horrible for me because it was a real kick in the stomach. A club who needed a great escape themselves the previous year to avoid relegation go on to win the league in their second season while Sunderland, who were in the league for nine years that season are STILL accepting survival and not actively trying to do better.

As for this season, while I definitely didn’t think we’d be challenging to go straight back to the Premier League, I certainly did not expect us to be where we are.

I’ll quickly touch on our managers before I look to the game. Simon Grayson was appointed in the summer after he left Preston and he lasted until the very end of October where he was sacked after a 3-3 draw with newly-promoted Bolton Wanderers. I felt Grayson was out of his depth on Wearside as, with all due respect, the expectation level would have probably been higher at Sunderland than at Preston at the start of the season. Chris Coleman is obviously here now & I’m not going to lie I would have hoped for more points by this stage of the season and certainly would’ve hoped to be out or clear of the bottom three by now but I do firmly believe he is the right man to take us forward, whatever league we’re in.

If the worst case scenario happens and we are relegated, he should be the difference in the type of player we can sign. I was fairly lenient with my expectations this season as there were a good number of teams who were in a better position than us to get promoted.

In general, the state at Sunderland doesn’t look too healthy right now and supporters have become disenchanted. We’ve seen constant thrashings at home in the last few seasons off the likes of Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Southampton and have toothlessly lost at home to Hull, QPR, Swansea, Stoke, Brentford, Sheff Utd, Ipswich, Preston etc. We’ve only won 25 league matches out of 114 since the start of the 2012-13 season.

Players have either given up when going behind or not put the required effort in the first place. On top of that our financial situation isn’t very good and our owner, Ellis Short, has completely lost interest.

In their title-winning season, our dearest and nearest Newcastle spent over £50m to get back up at the first attempt and ended up walking to promotion really. We only spent £1.25m upon relegation, which even with our current state, is really poor. You also need to show some level of ambition to get back to the Premier League, which is where I feel a club the size of Sunderland, with its stadium, resources and fanbase should be.

I’m not trying to suggest we automatically deserve to be there but it is poor that we are facing the extremely likely prospect of being in the third tier of English football just over a year after we got relegated from the Premier League. Given all of that, the mood around Sunderland is completely killed and that’s primarily down to Short. Until he goes, we stand very little chance of progressing as a club.

In League One, there are really no excuses for me. While I’m not saying I definitely think we’d bounce straight back, I’d personally count anything less than getting straight back to the Championship as a failure.

The point to all of this is to inform fans of opposing teams that the Stadium of Light will more than likely be half-empty when you come calling.

So what I’d ask you to bare in mind is: when Norwich are 3-0 up by the hour mark and Sunderland have no chance of getting anything, please don’t judge the fans for leaving but our fans really are good. It’s just they’ve become tired of seeing no progress from the club.

So with the exception of the result, I hope those Norwich fans that make the long trip to Sunderland in midweek game enjoy themselves. Hope we win obviously as we badly need the three points but after that, good luck for the rest of the season.

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