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Sunderland legend admits ‘everybody knows where it’s gone wrong’ as experience point made

As fifth all-time Sunderland appearance maker with more than 350 games to his name, Gary Bennett MBE has a view on where the club went wrong this season.

The former Black Cats hero and current BBC Radio Newcastle co-commentator, who was North East Personality of the Year for 2023, believes there wasn’t enough experience in the side this term. The club have slumped away from the Championship play-off places in the past two months.

Bennett was speaking at the launch of a Sunderland limited edition bottle of Jameson whiskey. Partnering with Classic Football Shirts, the bottle features Sunderland’s 1992 away shirt, paying homage to Sunderland’s iconic cup final season.

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He said: “I think everybody knows where it’s gone wrong. We’ve got some very good young players but you need that blend and a bit of experience and I think if we had that we wouldn’t be too far away. You look at the model, the so-called model, you’ve got to say at times it has worked but there’s other times when you’re thinking ‘if we did have one or two experienced players maybe that might have been able to help us over the line.”

He reckons the club overachieved last season and added: “You look at last season and think ‘did we overachieve?’ I think so, nobody was really expecting us to be where we were.

“To get to the play-offs and maybe with a little bit of luck go up or get promoted. People talk about whether you are ready or not, but you take it and then deal with it when you’re in the Premier League. You look at Ipswich and say ‘have they overachieved’ and yes they have but they aren’t going to say they aren’t going to take it.”

Bennett doesn’t have a preference for a new head coach and added: “I have seen coaches and managers come in, experienced international managers come in at a football club and struggle. It’s not a case of getting Joe Bloggs in and we are going to be winning week in, week out and we are going to play this attractive football. Whoever comes in the supporters and the club are going to be right behind that manager and as long as he gets results, I’m happy. It’s when you don’t get results or the football is not attractive enough, then you are thinking well, we’ve got problems.

“You look at the foundations and the foundations are there. We are an attractive club. We’ve got some very talented young players and now we’ve just got to get that blend, that mix, and if we can get that balance right then who knows maybe we can expect a good season next season.”

Bennett loved his time as a player and reflected: “As a player I was lucky. As a player everyone wants to pull on a red-and-white shirt. I was able to do that and my debut was one of those memorable games where after a couple of minutes you score a goal and you are thinking, ‘wow, is this what it’s all about?’.

“You soon find out it’s not. But obviously playing for Sunderland I was able to play at the top level and also play in a League Cup and FA Cup final as well. So I would say it’s a ticked box. Not many players get to achieve that at one club.

“And I had a testimonial as well against Glasgow Rangers. When you start playing for Sunderland you don’t expect to be at the club for 11 and a half years. But time flies when you are having fun. Obviously on the punditry side it’s a great position to be in where you go and watch the team and can pass comment on the team and it’s part and parcel of your heart as well. To see them get promoted and to go and do the commentary at Wembley, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/sunderland-legend-admits-everybody-knows-29059067

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