TV Review: Back of the Netflix - Sunderland 'Til I Die

Tue, Jan 22 2019

Credit: Netflix

With plenty of drone footage from overhead and cameras at pitch level, there is enough training ground action in Netflix’s Sunderland ‘Til I Die documentary to keep even Marcelo Bielsa happy.

The eight-part series is a fascinating look at the remarkable 2017/18 season on Wearside when Sunderland tried to come to terms with their relegation from the Premier League, only to be dragged into a dramatic dog fight in an attempt to stay in the Championship.

It is probably a documentary that Darron Gibson has avoided as the series is bookended by a couple of drink related incidents that certainly have had a knock-on affect on the Irish international’s career.

There is additional Irish interest with John O’Shea as club captain and Aiden McGeady popping up in match footage – even if his only interview in the series is one towards the end of the season when he magnificently puts the boot into the manager!

Sunderland’s Chief Executive Martin Bain plays quite a large role in the show as the Scotsman attempts to deal with a massively decreased budget following the club’s relegation from the top tier of English football and an owner in Ellis Short who has tightened the purse strings even further.

The two episodes that coincide with the transfer windows are the most enlightening, particularly when Bain is keen to get Jack Rodwell – reportedly on £70,000 a week – off his wage bill so he can bring in four players in his place.

The main drawback with the series is that there is no dressing room footage so we don’t get to see manager Simon Grayson go mental as his team get thumped 5-2 by Ipswich Town, but we do get some wonderful fan reaction inside the stadium as the club drops ever closer to relegation.

There are also cameras present when Johnny Williams goes to see the club’s Sports Psychologist, which is quite eye opening.

The stars of the series though are the hard-pressed Sunderland supporters who have to deal with their team staring down the barrel of consecutive relegations.

The strong fan culture is something that League of Ireland fans can recognise from those who go to the games week-in, week-out, home and away.

The Black Cats fans don’t have much to cheer about during the season but the superb comeback from being 3-0 down to Bristol at half-time, watched through the eyes of the supporters in the away section and the fan listening on the radio back home, is what following your local football team is all about.

This is a much watch show for football fans with a Netflix subscription.

So when you finish Sunderland ‘Til I Die, what other football is worth watching on Netflix?

First Team: Juventus – The goings on in Turin with Juve going for their seventh league title in a row and battling in the Champions League is a bit different from Sunderland.

We have Juan Cuadrado jetting off to Paris in a private jet for the opening of Adidas’ new store compared with John O’Shea attending a fans forum in The Clock pub in Sunderland.

There is a very long and tearful goodbye to Gianluigi Buffon in his final season at the club but no mention of his money-grabbing move to Paris for this current season.

Boca Juniors Confidential – Watch the famous Buenos Aires club in pre-season training and as they begin their Copa Liberatores campaign.

It is a pity they didn’t keep the cameras with the club right to the infamous final against River Plate but the show is still worth a watch with Carlos Tevez and the old-school centre forward Ramon ‘Wanchope’ Abila the stars of the show.

Les Blues – While this doesn’t include France’s most recent World Cup victory, this documentary charts French international football over the 20 years from 1996.

The 1998 World Cup win, the Zinedine Zidane headbutt (which never fails to shock when watching on replay!) and the chaotic Raymond Domenech years are all part of the documentary.

Away from the pitch there is plenty politics and discussion on the terrorist attack in the Stade de France in 2015.