Sunderland 'Til I Die season two - five things to look out for

Oxford lad Stewart Donald
Stewart Donald completed his takeover of Sunderland in May 2018

It's almost time for season two of Sunderland 'Til I Die.

Season one documented the 2017-18 campaign, during which Sunderland were relegated from the Championship - with all of the repercussions for the club and community that meant.

Season two gives access to the club during the 2018-19 season. With new owners and a new manager, Sunderland are looking to reinvent themselves and gain promotion from League One.

The series follows the key people inside the club and some of the local people for whom Sunderland means everything.

Here are some things to expect.

Warning: contains spoilers!

Charlie Methven is an incredible character

Get ready for the pure PR force of nature that is Sunderland's new managing director Charlie Methven.

Clad in pastel shirts and pink chinos, with his hair flapping like Lord Farquaad from Shrek and talking a bit like Bob Mortimer's Train Guy character, Methven rides into town in episode one, ready to drag Sunderland into a new dawn.

It's quite a sweary new dawn. Addressing his new marketing team, he outlines the finances of the club in the kind of expletive-laden language that Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It would be proud of.

Aside from the effing and jeffing, there’s A LOT of business-management speak and we low-key love him for it.

Two of our favourite lines:

"My role is to imagine things, to feel things and then to express those things."

"They [his team] need to see me doing things. They need to understand and see what good looks like."

He's a demanding leader, but one of the compelling subtexts of the series is watching how, against all wisdom, this big southerner manages to connect with some of the Sunderland faithful.

He also seems genuinely passionate about the club and city.

One of his aims is to draw the biggest home crowd in League One history, which he does in episode three.

The Stadium of Light goes 'Balearic'

One of the most brilliant 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 been walking out to Profokiev's Dance of the Knights. You, like us, probably know it better as The Apprentice theme tune.

Methven's suggestion for a change: Tiesto's seminal mid-noughties, genre-defining trance banger Adagio for Strings.

You kind of have to watch it for yourselves, but the bit where Methven plays this through his laptop to a bemused marketing team in suits, air pumping like he's in Amnesia, is one of the best bits of television we've seen in some time.

See also: him describing to the matchday announcer how he wants to create an atmosphere in the Stadium of Light that is "a bit Ibiza" ... a bit "Balearic".

Let's have it.

There is definitely still enough heartache to keep you engrossed

Everyone loves a day out at Wembley, don't they? Well, perhaps not if you're a Sunderland fan.

In this series, we get to watch the Mackems put themselves through not one, but two absolutely heartbreaking trips to the capital.

First, there's the disappointment of the 2019 EFL Trophy defeat by Portsmouth. Then the play-off final loss to Charlton Athletic.

Sunderland's complete inability to defend a lead conspires to frustrate.

Poor Joyce - one of the chefs at the club, who also appeared in season one - travels to watch them live for only the second time in 21 years only to see Sunderland blow a first-half lead in the trophy final.

Assuming you're not a Pompey fan - or maybe a Geordie - you may well come away from this series feeling a, perhaps unjustified, animosity towards Portsmouth Football Club as one of the most entertaining subplots is how they always seem to spoil Sunderland's party.

The January transfer window is every bit as chaotic as you think

More often than not these days, it can feel like the January transfer window fails to deliver real drama – at least in the Premier League. When was the last time a big club properly splurged a load of money on an 11th-hour panic buy?

Luckily, we get to see plenty of drama here - the documentary-makers giving inside access to the nerve-centre at Sunderland during the 2019 winter window.

There we see new owner Stewart Donald pacing around his office in the final hours of the 2019 winter window, swearing at his phone, caught in a game of poker with Wigan Athletic, before eventually spending £4m on striker Will Grigg in the last hour. Not long before that, his offer had been roughly four times less.

This is the kind of cat-and-mouse drama we live for.

Stewart Donald seems like a genuinely nice guy

Perhaps not the most original observation, but owner Stewart Donald seems like a genuinely stand-up bloke.

Perhaps it's the West Country accent that softens him, we're not sure, but he seems invested and also seems like a 'proper football man'. Maybe we're naive, but his description of going to watch Oxford United in the top division with his dad and "the smell of the cigarettes and the burgers" evokes some strange nostalgia - even if, for some, it's a time they didn't live through.

Subsequently, the scenes of him celebrating with his family at the match get us in the feels.

There's plenty more to enjoy about the series too.

For those who don't like too much change, you'll be glad we see some familiar faces return, including Joyce and Peter Farrer the season-ticket holding taxi driver, who may be the most salt-of-the-earth guy we've ever witnessed on screen, constantly delivering philosophical observations about working-class life and community, through the prism of football. "Beyond my family, Sunderland's my first love."

They've also stuck with the same theme tune and titles. So that's nice.

We don't see any fans squaring up to new manager Jack Ross - a la that incredible scene in season one involving Chris Coleman - and we don't see any players getting boozed up on candid camera - a la Darron Gibson season one - but there is lots and lots of drama to soak up here.

Good stuff.

Sunderland 'Til I Die season two launches on Netflix on Wednesday, 1 April

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