Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wendy House for the Bee-Wildered; THE MATCH: Brentford 3 Sunderland 3

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wendy House for the Bee-Wildered; THE MATCH: Brentford 3 Sunderland 3

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner at Griffin Park @sturayner

AT full-time on Saturday, the Griffin Park away end said a lot about where Sunderland are right now.

The Brook Road Stand is known to some as "the Wendy House" but it was anything but genteel at the end of the Black Cats' third consecutive draw. Like the appearance of the ground as a whole, it was also rather muddled.

At half-time, the away end was a congregation of delight and encouragement, full of fans overjoyed at the 3-1 lead Lewis Grabban's penalty had just secured. At full-time, it was a real hotch-potch.

Some cheered and clapped the players off as they had an hour earlier, albeit less joyfully, having seen them draw 3-3. There were pockets of boos and strains of "You're not fit to wear the shirt", but only pockets. Others gesticulated anger, some got their heads down and headed for the exits.

That is Sunderland at the moment - so many problems, it is hard to know where to start.

Is it all the fault of the absentee landlord, Ellis Short, not even to be seen when his club was practically on his own doorstep? Do the players not care enough? Are they not good enough? Should the manager carry the can? Is the chief executive at fault? Are the fans to blame? The media? All probably bear some responsibility; the question is of degrees.

Today, the Black Cats are throwing open their doors to supporters in an attempt to repair the increasingly flimsy bond between the two, but only victories will really do that and, as Sunderland were reminded yet again at Brentford, achieving them is easier said than done. The Stadium of Light's key figures understand the best way to success is a united front. Simon Grayson has gone all David Cameron the number of times he has repeated that "We are all in it together," but the supporters cannot even unite against the club, never mind behind it. It illustrates not a failing on their part but the complicated mess they have been presented with by years of mismanagement, bad ideas and half-hearted footballers.

Even those claims were hard to definitively level against Sunderland on Saturday. For the third game running, they conceded the opening goal, yet fought back for a point. Claiming that, when the Bees equalised with 12 minutes plus another five of added time to go showed some character, but they keep giving the opposition head-starts - and their nervy and scrappy opening was not what those behind Jason Steele's goal had hoped for, even less so watching Lee Cattermole get mugged as he chose a bad time to pause for thought. In mitigation, the blustery conditions made it difficult, but on the other hand, Brentford coped better.

While the players look mentally weak in front of understandably critical home fans, they could certainly not complain about the support from the 1,587 in the Wendy House. …

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