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Fan Letters: “My kids don’t want to go to games anymore - and it’s breaking my heart”

In today’s FL we’ve received an email from concerned dad Mark Gradwell, who fears that the club will lose an entire generation of supporters if results at the Stadium of Light don’t improve soon.

Sunderland v Swansea City - Premier League Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

As a season ticket holder for a number of years, and a Dad who takes his kids, its heart breaking to see my children turn to me and say that they don't want to be there anymore.

This is what a calendar year of no wins to shout about has done.

Its slowly turning off the younger generation from supporting the club. The very heartbeat and future of this club.

There will always be loyal base of hardcore fans but its those children (like mine) who have no allegiances to the city other than to support the team their father has supported that will slowly dwindle away.

My children endure a lot of teasing at school coming from a predominantly Newcastle supporting area and it makes it a little easier when the team is doing well. Is it too much to ask to have a team playing their hardest with heart and passion every home game?

I am trying to teach my children recent history about the club and it was really good to see the club put a compilation of good times on the big screen at this weekend’s game. It gave fans like me some nostalgia and for a brief moment it really raised a small amount of feel good factor, along with the hope that a new manager like Chris Coleman might just bring some of these good times back.

Unfortunately, as many fans have already stated, its the hope we can't stand when there seems to be none.

Sunderland v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

This weekend’s game was horrible to watch. To see us continue to play in the style of an away team, sitting deep in our own half and looking to counter, without really having the personnel to play that way effectively was infuriating.

Watching Reading play keep ball without pressing when we were 1-0 down was devastating, but I do understand that with ten men it was difficult as the second goal would be crucial to the outcome of the game. The lack of pressing with eleven men on the pitch, however, was not acceptable.

I know Chris Coleman understands his task, and I know he wants to build on getting the defence compact and difficult to break down, but unfortunately we need to be more positive in our play at home.

Confidence and morale is low but I’d have hoped (there is that word again) that we would be able to build on the Burton result.

Someone at Sunderland AFC did not buy a peg from the Gypsy, because this continuous streak of bad luck at home this season is starting to become really boring now.

Saturday was no exception, starting with McNair's injury, then the sending off and then the injury to Oviedo (who was one of the few bright sparks of the team).

Sunderland v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Granted, McManaman and Cattermole’s yellow cards were avoidable, so no complaints with the fact that the referee had no option but to send Callum off, but its just one thing after another.

The bad luck only extends to our embarrassing situation, such as numerous ex-Sunderland players who were once deemed surplus to requirements coming back to haunt us this season by either scoring against us, managing a team that have beaten us (Heckingbottom at Barnsley) or players having a big impact in games.

This was further demonstrated when Paul McShane was given the freedom of the SoL to do his best Lothar Matthaus impression, bringing the ball out from the back on various occasions on Saturday.

It was a new all time low, one that could only be beaten if Milton Nunez or Jozy Altidore were to come back and score a hat-trick against us.

There was a confirmation about Saturday for me - not a sudden realisation, but a confirmation! A confirmation that the older, so-called more experienced players simply do not have the legs for this division or how we all want our beloved Sunderland to play the game going forward in the future.

Its time to say thank you and goodbye to John O'Shea and Lee Cattermole - they have unfortunately been part of the problem for a long time now and no matter how hard they try or how many decent games they have had in the past, they are too old and too one-dimensional to fit in with a new way of playing.

We need to make the SoL a fortress again, a place where the opposition fear to visit.

We don't care if we don't play expansive free-flowing football as long as we see grit, heart, determination and effort above all else.

The people behind the scenes at Black Cats House are lovely. Chris Waters is a great Liaison officer for the club and, in fairness, the likes of Monty, Bally and the injured players do their bit for supporters on match days. Its is far from a perfect experience, with litter throughout the city, stadium and the stench of cigarettes in every toilet (nothing is ever done) but off the field the club tries hard to keep the experience a good one, with fan fests and alike.

This is a business that is determined by what happens on the pitch and it is the first team and the top-level management that are letting the fans down at present.

I really hope for the good of this club we see some major investment and support for Chris Coleman because we need to get rid of deadwood, rip the team apart and rebuild with players who can at least produce the basics.

Mark Gradwell (a disappointed Sunderland fan)

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