An expensive and poorly assembled squad of players that needs whittling down and re imagining to suit the needs of a new coach, an ultra rich owner who wants things run according to a strict financial diktat and a general sense that the club has been drifting aimlessly toward the rocks with nobody positioned on deck to spot the impending crash.
The Netflix documentary series “Sunderland ‘Til I Die” should probably carry some kind of trigger warning for supporters of the Vancouver Whitecaps or, at the very least, details of a phone number to call “if you have been affected by the issues raised in this program”.
Not that the circumstances are exactly the same of course.
The Whitecaps aren’t faced with the prospect of crippling relegation after relegation and they’re not quite living in the same cutthroat, dog eat dog, financially insane system as Sunderland inhabit but the series does give a chilling insight into how difficult it is to turn a club around once it has set sail on the wrong course.
And that’s why (no matter how welcome it might sound) the pledge by Marc Dos Santos that he will build “a model or identity for Vancouver” amounts to little or nothing.
Actually, let’s rewind that for a moment because I don’t think we’ve really taken into account how weird it is that the Whitecaps don’t already have a “model” or “identity”.
After seven years in MLS Dos Santos doesn’t think the model needs to change, he thinks there actually needs to be one established.
It’s hard to know how that can happen.
Either it’s failed to get on the agenda for countless Front Office meetings because nobody even considered it a requirement or it has made it to the agenda and subsequently been voted down.
“Those in favour of instituting a consistent working practice?” (No hands raised).
“Those against?” (Carried unanimously).
So Dos Santos needs to accept that he is facing a near impossible task if he wants to change the root and branch of the club because the root and branch of the club is planted firmly in the “whichever way the wind blows” philosophy of management.
Appoint somebody, let them take the praise and the blame and then move on to whoever is next and give them the freedom to do whatever they want in an endless cycle of diminishing returns and badly spent cash and goodwill.
Good football and good results will paper over the cracks for a while (and the signs are at least positive that Dos Santos has an intelligently thought through idea of how to achieve both of those) but “Sunderland ‘Til I Die” is a litany of good people being shackled by a bad environment and, while Vancouver aren’t quite at the irredeemable stage just yet, next season does feel like the last chance to get things right before there’s just no turning back at all.