79 Arsenal are champions.
The other side to Peter Reid is his undoubted inability to control his players, brought about by an overwhelming desire to do so. Thomas Helmer a proven German international came to the club, admittedly past his best but a league above what we had, as a veteran he noticed the poor standard of training at the club and mentioned this to Reid, he barely played for the club. Steffan Schwartz, only this season made a similar comment and was cast out of the team, only playing after November when injuries dictated and has barely played since. The same is also true for Julio Arca, he stated he was disappointed with the way his career has progressed at the club and due to poor training methods had not become a better player since joining.
These incidents, where Reid's ability has been questioned have resulted in valuable players being discarded. This was most visible in the case of Chris Makin, a player who without question was the first choice right back and one of the few players guaranteed a place in the team. Sold to Ipswich for around £1.2m-for a player who was a guaranteed first team player this is unacceptable. The replacement was the aforementioned Bernt Haas who quite simply is a bad player.
Although we can't spend huge amounts of money we do have some to spend but the fear of making a bad buy, fear of signing another player who (with experience and ability) will question Reid's ability (as have Helmer, Jan Errikson and Schwartz) and his intertwined objectives with the board mean he won't sign a good player. Whilst in Div 1 you could buy a Phillips and give him time to settle in the team in the Premiership this is not the case, yet Reid still signs people like Varga and Haas. Where as we had a spine of decent British players we now are littered with poor foreigners. Where we had quality, not only have Sunderland not gone forward we have gone rapidly backwards. Selling Hutchison and Makin have been the final nails in this coffin, and out of all his bargain signings only Phillips and Sorenson have proved to be major assets. We are now the lowest scoring team in the league yet we all know Reid will not go out and sign the players we need, the fact Quinn plays more now than he has in previous two seasons is symptomatic of this. We deserve to go down this season, the fans have known how bad we are for some time now, but the media's attitude of look where you were and fan's expectations are too high have been the standard response to this.
I would suggest that the new stadium and playing in front of up to 48 000 people, having the third highest average attendance for five seasons (behind Man Utd and Liverpool then Man Utd and Newcastle) may have had some positive affect upon the team's performance also and as long as Peter Reid wastes money and falls out with players the club will only slide further backwards and be relegated next season. We need an overhaul of the backroom staff and the players. Reid won't fire his drinking buddies Heath and Saxton, and seems to either not know what good players are or be willing to take second best. I don't expect to win the league (or anything) but I do expect Sunderland to improve, Newcastle have shown that adding just a few quality players can have a drastic effect on performances and ability but I can never see Reid going out and buying three players who would walk in to our first team (who anybody would have heard of) and turn things around. We have needed a right winger for two seasons now, he hasn't come up with that, as more positions need strengthening there seems no evidence that Peter Reid can or will buy the quality required.
I don't expect trophies, to sign Ronaldo but just to improve. Under Reid this will never happen. Not least now due to his reputation for being pig-headed, a poor coach and our current predicament. A fresh start, via a new manager would make it easier for the club to attract decent players; regardless of Reid's failings he has reached a point where he won't be able to turn things around.
With a one-nil victory at Old Trafford, Arsene Wenger's team has swept to a third league and FA Cup double and twelfth league championship. Why have Arsenal dominated the English Premiership and yet failed to make a significant impact in Europe.
Compare and contrast, Arsenal building a very British team with spirit, battling players and sprinkled with some of Europe's best players. This is the kind of team that should win the title. Three league defeats in 37 games, six European defeats in twelve games. A British not a European force.
Whereas Manchester United sideline battling British style players like Stam, Butt and Cole in order to bring in players that can bring an extra dimension in Europe in Blanc, Veron and van Nistelrooy. Nine league defeats in 37 games, 2 European defeats in 16 games. A European not a British force.
Simply put Alex Ferguson has sacrificed the league in order to improve his chances in Europe. Arsene Wenger, by contrast, has always targeted the league title and has built a team that is ill equipped to compete in Europe – but is capable of scoring in every game and avoiding defeat in every away game domestically.
Arsenal appear to be where Manchester United were in 1994, brilliant at home but lousy in Europe. Whether Arsene Wenger is now willing to risk his new found pre-eminence at home to convert Arsenal into a European Cup challenging side is very doubtful. This Arsenal side will not dominate Europe.
The future, domestically at least, for Arsenal is very bright. The only weak areas in the side are in the ageing defenders, who were poor in Europe this season, and in a support striker for Henry because Bergkamp's Indian summer can't last forever. However Wenger has already addressed most of the problems in the side. Out will go Dixon, Keown, Adams and Seaman and in already are Lauren, Campbell and Wright.
Arsenal therefore only need another centre half to partner Sol Campbell, a long-term partner for Thierry Henry and a fourth midfielder to add to Vieira, Ljungberg and Pires. If Arsenal can make these additions, which ironically, are the same additions that Alex Ferguson made at the start of this season to so little effect, then Arsenal could well defend their title
English football is at a crossroads. Manchester United are not the force they were, Liverpool are improving with every season and Arsenal have now the confidence to go with undoubted ability. Next season is a conundrum. Can United come good again, will Arsenal relax following their triumphs and will Liverpool break their 13 season league championship drought. Will Leeds, Chelsea or Newcastle break through or will there be a challenge from nowhere. Some people say that the Premiership is less exciting than it was, what do they know?