Has Mackem Murray gone mad?

Last updated : 21 October 2002 By Martyn Elliott

Going down
The Mackems have won only five league matches during 2002, managing to hit the net only 17 times in 28 games. A spectacular fall from grace for a side that finished seventh two seasons running.

Their problems seem to stem from indecision and mismanagement at the top.

Why did Bob Murray allow Peter Reid to spend over £22million on players in the past year and then not allow him time to work with the players?

Why has he appointed a manager out of the game for six years and fond of tactics from the Dark Ages?

Does Murray actually have any say in running the club or is he just a puppet of the plc board?

It has emerged now that Howard Wilkinson was not the first choice to replace Peter Reid as claimed. Apparently Murray called Wilkinson to ask his advice on who should replace Reid and received the reply that Wilko himself was the best choice.

This is the man who signed Vinny Jones, Carlton Palmer and Thomas Brolin for Leeds, but sold Eric Cantona in a cut-price deal to Manchester United.

He is also the man that England players laughed at during training for the game in Finland, because his ideas and manner were so old-fashioned.

But apparently this is the man who will lead Sunderland to success, although the dire performance against West Ham suggests that things will get worse before they get better.

If it is true that it was the plc board who ordered Murray to sack Reid, what will they have made of Wilkinson’s appointment?

The reasons for Sunderland’s on field troubles are simple, the fans and Niall Quinn.

The Mackem fans now expect too much, Reid transformed the club during his seven years in charge but that did not stop the fans moaning and calling for his head. They wanted the Champions League and top quality football.

But it was Reid’s change of tactics combined with Niall Quinn coming to the end of his career that sparked Sunderland’s demise.

During Reid’s successful season’s Sunderland had relied on the simple tactics of the full-backs hitting long balls up to Quinn, and Kevin Phillips feeding on the knock downs.

But a change of tactics and Quinn’s increasing injury problems keeping him out of more and more games, saw Sunderland begin to slide.

Quinn however has proved impossible to replace, largely because top teams don’t play the long ball game anymore, and Sunderland now look relegation certainties.

The signings of Flo, Piper, Wright and Stewart have landed the Wearsiders in desperate financial trouble, and it appears that Wilkinson isn’t too keen on record signing Flo. It is even rumoured that he will replace the ex-Rangers man with Jon Dahl Tomasson, if the Norwegian can be sold on.

It seems that the new manager is sure to take the Mackems into the Nationwide League, which is in many ways a cause for celebration, but the man to blame will be Murray.

The appointment of Wilkinson after allowing Reid to spend all the club’s money was just madness.

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