The second series of Netflix’s Sunderland ‘Til I Die is released on April 1, and details of what will feature in the six episodes are starting to emerge. What should viewers look out for – and what are likely to be the main talking points once the series is aired?


If perma-tanned chief executive Martin Bain was the breakout star of the first series of Sunderland ‘Til I Die, then his successor, Charlie Methven, is at the heart of series two.

The Northern Echo:

Methven, an old Etonian with carefully coiffured hair and a propensity to speak his mind, comes across as Sunderland’s version of David Brent, trying to lead a failing business through a combination of wisecracks and motivational messages.

At one point, Methven speaks about his role at the club: “I’ve inherited a fragmented, disillusioned, disunited team which has been leaderless. They need to see me doing things – they need to see and understand what ‘good’ looks like. Stewart might not admit it, but he looks to me for the big vision.” Rickey Gervais would have been proud.


If Methven is the PR man for Sunderland’s brave new era, Donald is the man alongside him in the owner’s chair. The former Eastleigh chairman is portrayed as someone desperately trying to get to grips with the scale of the challenge he has taken on.

The Northern Echo:

“It’s the biggest mess of a business I have ever seen,” Donald says at one stage. “All these meetings (with the staff) – number of ideas? Zero. Number of follow-throughs? Zero. This is typical Sunderland.”

Donald’s affection for his new club is clear, but he is also increasingly fatalistic as the season unravels.


Methven makes no attempt to hide the scale of the financial mess he and Donald inherited. “This business was planning to lose £30-40m per year,” he screams in a staff meeting at one stage. “It is a failed, f***-ed up business’. And unless you guys understand that, you’ll never make it in this world.”

There are few financial revelations, as Methven in particular was always fairly open about the state of the club’s books. However, one nugget of information jumps out. During one meeting, Donald asks why Sundreland are still spending £100,000-a-year on a cryotherapy chamber that was introduced under Sam Allardyce. He is told that none of the players use it – but that Bain used to go in every and now then to try to ease his bad back.


One of the key passages of series two focuses on transfer deadline day in January 2019. Sunderland had sold Josh Maja to Bordeaux – interestingly, the discussions on camera suggest the initial fee was around £1.25m, whereas the overall package has always been described as a £3.5m deal – and Jack Ross was adamant a replacement was required.

Wigan’s Will Grigg was identified as a potential signing, but as the clock ticked down on deadline day, the Latics stood by their £2m valuation. “He’s not worth any more than the offer you’ve put in,” said manager Jack Ross. “Please don’t go daft, he’s not worth it.”

The Northern Echo:

A couple of hours later, and a panicked Donald is offering Wigan an initial sum of £3m, raising to £4m if a series of clauses are met. It is a new League One transfer record – “it doesn’t make financial sense” admits head of football Richard Hill.

Donald’s desperation to aid Sunderland’s promotion push is obvious, but the recruitment operation appears dysfunctional and chaotic. It doesn’t help, of course, that Grigg has proved so ineffectual since.


On the pitch, the story of Sunderland’s season builds to their two Wembley appearances in the finals of the Checkatrade Trophy and League One play-offs. Both end in disappointment.

The Checkatrade final comes first, and the pre-match scenes in Trafalgar Square underline just how much getting to Wembley meant to the Sunderland fans.

As the game progresses, however, Methven’s frustration at Ross’ tactics becomes clear. “He’s got to change it,” yells Methven from the directors’ box. “This is so us, we cannot f***ing string a good match together.”

The Northern Echo:

Two months later, and Sunderland are back at Wembley for the play-off final against Charlton. The Black Cats are gifted an early goal, but Charlton equalise before claiming a dramatic late winner.

“If you’d scripted that story, you would have sat there and called bull***t,” said executive producer Leo Pearlman, of Fulwell 73 Productions, in an interview with the Daily Mail. “You would have said, ‘That’s way too silly’. But then in typical Sunderland fashion, they delivered last-minute heartbreak.”