The plan with Sunderland was to take them to the Premier League and to establish them as a top tier team. The steps were very simple:
- Get out of League 1
- Whilst in League 1 use the opportunity to develop young talent, by giving them first team football.
- Use the big transfer budget to sign as many young players as possible – they were going to form the backbone of the club finances and playing side for years to come.
As plans go, those three steps were very simple and I certainly made good progress on the second two points.
I made several mistakes. Some of the players wanted more first team football. In my usual manner I appeased them, where possible. This introduced inconsistency to our performances and results – we could never stay in the top six for more than a game at a time.
I dropped these players, which made them more unhappy and the moral around the club dwindled. The fans still liked me though, which was weird.
Then came the dreaded message. Five games to get ten points. This was in January, I’d strengthened the team with mid-fielders and was confident.
We went out and immediately lost 1-0. We then drew 0-0, won one and then I was sacked.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t actually think this would happen. I’m not sure what I expected, I thought the owner was bluffing – oh how naive of me.
I’m not very good at Football Manager. I have nothing more. They tore my heart out and stamped on it. They set my soul on fire and then pissed on it.
I’m not at all bitter.