SIR BOB MURRAY has a simple message for Sunderland fans: We’ve got our club back.
Hope is finally in the Wearside air following what supporters see as the dark days under unpopular owners Ellis Short and Stewart Donald.
Billionaire Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, 23, is responsible for the new wave of optimism, having ridden to the rescue in February.
Local lad Murray, 74, made his fortune in kitchen manufacturing before holding the Sunderland reins from 1986-2006.
And after meeting Dreyfus and his family for the first time at the Stadium of Light before the last day of the regular season, the former Black Cats chief could not be more buoyant.
Murray told SunSport: “A supporter pulled me outside the ground and said, ‘Have we got it, Bob?’
“I asked what he meant and, crying, he said, ‘Have we got our club back?’
“I told him we have….all of us. Having experienced what I have over the last couple of months, I really am over the moon.
“We had zero hope after all the challenges and setbacks the club has faced over many years.
WIN £50,000! Play Dream Team Euros – our FREE fantasy football game this summer
“Since I spent 20 years doing what I did, it’s been heartbreaking for me and my family.
“Now I am so positive. I’ve had numerous conversations and met Kyril and the family last weekend. In North-East language – they get it.”
Murray is so optimistic that he is even excited about a fourth season in League One if the Black Cats don’t win the play-offs.
Lee Johnson’s side were on course for automatic promotion before a stuttering end left them fourth and up against Lincoln.
Sunderland are yet to win the play-offs in five attempts, despite being promoted in 1990 having lost the final to Swindon after the Robins were denied a place in the old First Division because of financial irregularities.
But Murray, who now lives in Jersey, bullishly declared he will be at the final – and reckons they can end their hoodoo and return to the Premier League in no time.
He added: “We’re not very good at the play-offs, it’s not our thing.
“But records are there to be broken. We hadn’t won at Wembley in 50 years before we won the Papa John’s Trophy in March.
“The last time we were in the third tier in 1987/88 we were promoted straight away and had one year in the old Division Two before winning promotion again.
“Sadly we struggled to sustain the team having come from that low. But with these gentlemen’s experience and wealth, it’s different.
“We fell from the Premier League to League One in two years, so why couldn’t we go up in three?
“But I’m excited about next season whatever division we are in because I know we’ve got a future.”
Swiss-French businessman Dreyfus inherited his fortune after his father, Robert – the former owner of Marseille- died in 2009.
The club is now finally debt free after his £40million takeover, and work to turn Sunderland back into a tour de force is well underway.
And Murray, who moved the club from Roker Park to the Stadium of Light in 1997, points to the academy as the first order of business.
We have one of the best academies in Britain but it’s like having a factory with no raw materials.It’s ridiculous.
He said: “He’s got to turn the academy around.
“We have Sunderland-born children playing for Newcastle, which says everything.
“When I left we had Jordan Henderson and Jordan Pickford in there.
“We have one of the best academies in Britain but it’s like having a factory with no raw materials. It’s ridiculous.
“That’s their priority. I’ve been introduced to all the backroom staff and the investment will be more like for a Premier League than a League One club.”
Murray recognises it will not be easy to turn the great Sunderland tanker around.
But in Kyril he trusts, pledging his allegiance to the youngster.
He added: “He’s got a massive job on but one of the good things is that the previous owners got us to such a low base that it can only go one way.
“They’re not here to make a quick buck.
“Kyril is considered and articulate with knowledge beyond his years – and his English is better than mine.
CASINO SIGN UP OFFER: CLAIM UP TO £800 IN CASINO BONUS CASH
“He even bought me a Sunderland shirt and had my name put on it, which was a lovely gesture.
“His family have a great heritage in football and it was great to see from the outset him taking time to understand the history and heritage of the club, and wanting to engage.
“I’m sure we’ve got our club back – I’ll put my name to that.”
⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
Source: Read Full Article