It’s almost time for the second season of Sunderland ‘Til I Die.
The first season documented the 2017-18 campaign, during which Sunderland was demoted from the league – with all the repercussions for the club and community.
The second season gives access to the club during the 2018-19 season. With new owners and a new manager, Sunderland is looking to reinvent itself and get promotion from League One.
The series follows key people within the club and some local people for whom Sunderland means everything.
Here are some things to expect.
Warning: it contains spoilers!
Charlie Methven is an incredible character
Get ready for the pure public relations force of nature that is Sunderland’s new CEO, Charlie Methven.
Dressed in pastel-colored shirts and pink chinos, with fluttering hair like Shrek’s Lord Farquaad and speaking somewhat like Bob Mortimer’s Train Guy character, Methven rides around town in episode 1, ready to drag Sunderland into a new Sunrise.
It is a rather cursed new dawn. Addressing his new marketing team, he outlines the club’s finances in the kind of lies-laden language that Malcolm Tucker of The Thick of It would be proud of.
In addition to effing and jeffing, there are MANY business management talks and we love it for it.
Two of our favorite lines:
“My role is to imagine things, to feel things and therefore to express those things”.
“They [his team] I need to see myself do things. They have to understand and see what it looks like. “
He is a demanding leader, but one of the series’ convincing subtexts is to look at how, against all wisdom, this great south manages to connect with some of the Sunderland faithful.
He also seems genuinely passionate about the club and the city.
One of his goals is to attract the largest home crowd in League One history, which he does in episode three.
The stage of light becomes “balearic”
One of the brightest moments in the series comes in episode one, when Methven describes how he wants to update the soundtrack at the Stadium of Light.
For years, the Black Cats have walked to Profokiev’s Dance of the Knights. Like you, you probably know it better as The Apprentice’s themed melody.
Methven’s suggestion for a change: the semi-noble 30s of Tiesto, the tranger who defines the genus Adagio for Strings.
You have to watch it alone, but the point where Methven plays through his laptop to a confused marketing team in a suit and tie, pumping air like he’s in Amnesia, is one of the best pieces of television we’ve seen for some time.
See also: he describes to the announcer of the day how he wants to create an atmosphere in the Stadium of Light that is “a little Ibiza” … a little “Balearic”.
Let’s do it.
There is certainly still enough heartache to keep you absorbed
Everyone loves a day out in Wembley, right? Well, maybe not if you’re a Sunderland fan.
In this series, we can see the Mackem not exceed one, but two absolutely heartbreaking trips to the capital.
First, there is the disappointment of the defeat of the 2019 EFL Trophy in Portsmouth. Then the final defeat for the play-offs at Charlton Athletic.
Sunderland’s complete inability to defend an advantage conspires frustration.
Poor Joyce – one of the club’s chefs, who also appeared in the first season – travels to see them live only for the second time in 21 years, only to see Sunderland bring an advantage in the first half of the trophy final.
Assuming that you are not a fan of Pompeo – or perhaps a Geordie – you could very well get away from this series by feeling an animosity, perhaps unwarranted, towards Portsmouth Football Club as one of the funniest subplots is how they always seem to spoil the Sunderland party.
The January transfer window is just as chaotic as you think
Very often these days, it may seem that the January transfer window is failing to offer real drama – at least in the Premier League. When was the last time a big club properly purged a load of cash for an 11th hour panic purchase?
Fortunately, we can see a lot of drama here: the documentary filmmakers who give access to the nerve center of Sunderland during the 2019 winter window.
There we see new owner Stewart Donald walking into his office in the last hours of the winter window of 2019, cursing his phone, caught in a poker game with Wigan Athletic, before spending £ 4m on attacker Will Grigg in the ‘last hour. Not long ago, his offer had been about four times less.
This is the kind of cat and mouse drama we live for.
Stewart Donald looks like a really nice guy
It may not be the most original observation, but the owner Stewart Donald looks like a genuinely standing guy.
Perhaps it is the West Country accent that softens him, we are not sure, but he seems invested and he also seems an “adequate football man”. Maybe we are naive, but his description of going to see Oxford United in the top division with his father and “the smell of cigarettes and hamburgers” evokes a strange nostalgia – even if, for some, it is a moment in which they made it survive.
Subsequently, the scenes of him celebrating with his family during the game give us the feeling.
There is much more to appreciate in the series too.
For those who don’t like changes, you will be glad to see some familiar faces return, including Joyce and Peter Farrer, the taxi driver in possession of the subscription, who may be the saltiest guy on earth that we have ever seen on the screen, constantly providing philosophical observations on the life and community of the working class, through the prism of football. “Besides my family, Sunderland is my first love.”
They also stuck with the same melody and titles of the same theme. So it’s cute.
We don’t see any fans siding with the new manager Jack Ross – an incredible scene in the first season involving Chris Coleman – and we don’t see any player being drunk with the candid camera – a season of Darron Gibson – but there is a lot of drama from dive here.
The second season of Sunderland ‘Til I Die will be launched on Netflix on Wednesday 1st April