Niall Quinn: Sunderland owner Ellis Short has put heart and soul into club

Niall Quinn alongside Ellis Short
Niall Quinn alongside Ellis Short

Ellis Short has put his “heart and soul” into trying to improve the fortunes of Sunderland and should command more respect, believes club legend Niall Quinn.

The former Black Cats player, manager and chairman has leapt to the defence of the club’s American owner after Short came under fierce criticism in the first few weeks of the season.

He’s put things in place that haven’t always worked out.

Fans chanted “Are you watching Ellis Short?” during the 3-1 defeat to Norwich City in mid-August, while ex-defender Michael Gray also hit out at the club’s modest summer spending - though he quickly apologised.

Since then Sunderland have signed Fabio Borini in a move worth up to £10million, with Short also sanctioning the loan signings of Swedish international Ola Toivonen and Spurs full-back DeAndre Yedlin.

And Quinn believes the criticism of Short’s Sunderland reign to date is unjust and unfair.

“I think it’s very unfair (Short’s criticism),” said Quinn.

“I think he came in at a critical time in the club’s history.

“This man came in a stranger to the area, and he’s put more than just a pile of money into it, he’s put his heart and soul into it at times.

“He’s put things in place that haven’t always worked out.

“But he has spent money to do that and I think it’s most unfair that he gets that.

“He needs a break and I’d love to see Dick (Advocaat) get this team rolling, because he will go and sign a player or two when it’s right,” added Quinn, who worked with Short when he was chairman.

Ahead of the 1-1 draw with Swansea City, Short used his programme notes to defend his record, ambition and commitment to the Black Cats - adding that he covers every annual shortfall that Sunderland make in their budget.

The squad has since been boosted with the trio’s arrival and Quinn saw enough from his former side in the 1-0 defeat to Spurs to remain upbeat.

Quinn, a former Republic of Ireland international turned respected television pundit at Sky Sports, was at the Stadium of Light on Sunday, while Short was watching on from the director’s box.

Quinn, who scored 61 goals in 203 Sunderland appearances between 1996 and 2002, added: “They had two great chances and hit the woodwork twice.

“A big plus for Sunderland was that Kaboul looked fitter and was excellent. I thought he had a really good game.

“As a centre-half he picks out Rodwell [for his effort off the bar], looks to have done everything right, and I think in commentary they said ‘Dick Advocaat will be thinking it’s not his day’, and it’s not when that happens, because that’s ever such good play.

“You can’t blame him [Rodwell] for not scoring there. That’s a great effort that’s hit the bar, and I think that was the moment that fans started to leave and said ‘that’s it, it’s just not our day’.

“But there was so many positive things there for them.

“Kaboul as I said, (Yann) M’Vila in midfield and Toivonen as well.

“Toivonen looks a player who can really help. (Fabio) Borini had his debut too.”