Chris Coleman's last act as Sunderland manager was to appeal for platform to take club forward
In the bowels of Fulham's Craven Cottage, in a hospitality suite acting as a makeshift post-match press conference room, Chris Coleman addressed the media.
It was to be his last act as Sunderland manager.
The Black Cats had just suffered their 23rd defeat of the Championship season.
The old adage of the ‘league table doesn’t lie’ is true.
Sunderland, the worst team in the league, are League One-bound and deservedly so. Shipping goals for fun – 80 this season so far – not scoring enough, no identity or consistency in team selection.
Persistent injury problems and poor form led to Coleman and predecessor Simon Grayson having to constantly chop and change.
Coleman was exasperated as he spoke, not because he was disappointed with his players, more that he was fuming with the officials.
Rightly so. Sunderland should have been awarded a penalty and Aleksandar Mitrovic’s winning header shouldn’t have counted.
Whether a different result against Fulham would have been enough to save his job is unlikely.
Stewart Donald and his international consortium seem clear that they wanted a new direction. Coleman wasn’t even given the chance to put forward his case.
Coleman admitted he hadn’t pulled up any trees on Wearside. Despite the ongoing uncertainty above him and the dire financial picture that restricted him to a freebie and four loan signings in January, the Welshman had backed himself to keep Sunderland up.
He failed on that front. The players have failed. Martin Bain has made mistakes, Ellis Short countless mistakes.
A catalogue of failings over recent seasons have led to this point.
Long-suffering fans, who again backed their team in numbers at a rain-lashed Craven Cottage, will hope this is the club bottoming out.
Coleman remained adamant he wanted to stay and lead Sunderland back to the Championship and the majority of fans wanted him to remain too, judging by the reaction to his sacking.
They know he was not responsible for this relegation. The problems stemmed much deeper than him.
Once Coleman had finished venting at referee Peter Bankes and his team of officials, he again stressed the need for clarity.
For Coleman, what was key was to have a “plan, a vision, creating an identity and an environment where it is vibrant, full of players who want to work hard and fight for each other over 46 games, then we have a chance to do something.”
He insisted he was the right man for the job: “I know I can create that platform. I have created it before but I need some tools and some help, we all do.
“We can’t do anything until we know what is happening above us.”
Well, now he knows
It’s just a shame that the one manager in recent years who seems to have ‘got’ Sunderland and connected with the fanbase won’t be around to see the job through.