After getting beaten 5-0 by Scottish champions Celtic on their own turf, the last thing Sunderland football club would have wanted to see the following day would have been one of their players in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Unfortunately, Republic of Ireland international Darron Gibson made a few poor decisions and found himself bringing unwanted press to the club for things he said about his teammates in a tetchy and uncomfortable interaction with a number of disgruntled fans.
Sunderland came out and said that they would be dealing with the matter internally, and there was speculation that the Derry man may be in trouble ahead of the new season, but Gibson has been named in the squad to face Derby as the Championship season kicks off on Friday, and manager Simon Grayson has outlined why.
Speaking to the media ahead of the Derby game, Grayson openly admitted that the club is not in a position to let experienced players go, and after speaking to the player he was confident that there was no bigger issue that needed to be tackled.
We’re probably not in a position where we can move people out of the squad, because we don’t have the strength in depth.
It is not a situation you encourage for any player to be drinking before a game. That is down to their responsibility. I can’t be with them 24/7. Ultimately, it’s going to cost him a lot of money and his reputation is in tatters to a certain degree.
From an experienced player, making a mistake like that, it’s disappointing. The comments weren’t ideal given we are starting a new season.
But he has apologised to every relevant party and been reprimanded by the club. Now we move forward with the football and he’ll be under consideration.
That is a very reasonable stance to take, and while the club may have reacted differently if they were in a better state, it ultimately is a fair course of action.
It would have made for a very awkward few days on the training pitch for Gibson, but at the end of the day, as inappropriately as it may have been delivered, the message that he put out there was that he cares about the club, and does not want to accept a lack of care from those who are tasked with getting the club back to the top flight.
The best thing Darron Gibson can do now is play his socks off on Friday night, and he would want to be very, very careful any time he decides to socialise during the course of the season, but it does seems that, at least at Sunderland, the matter is in the past.