Dear Roker Report,
It appears our disciplinary record and in particular Max Power’s record could in the eyes of certain analysts be the barometer that may cost us promotion.
Lets put things into perspective here with a short history lesson.
Not very long ago the adjectives, lacklustre, spineless, inept, toothless, to name a few, seemed to be used at at twenty to five every Saturday, and rightly so.
Turning to the here and now, this regime, and this squad of players are literally going to have to kick their way out of this league.
Footballing our way to promotion is not going to happen, simply because the teams in this league will not allow us to.
What Jack Ross and his staff are creating with this squad is an ethos of no quarter given and none asked for. Every ball needs to be scrapped for and won from the first minute to the last.
The very basics of how to win a football game.
Certainly not pretty, but very hard to do week-in week-out, and with games coming thick and fast you are going to see more bookings and unfortunately more reds, simply because of the intensity levels Ross demands from those who cross the white line in every area of the pitch.
So to my point.
To start analysing and singling out players’ disciplinary records especially at this stage of the season - who at the end of the day are only showing they are committed to the cause - is not only damaging to the players’ self-confidence but counter-productive to what it’s going to take to get out this league.
By letting teams know that Sunderland AFC are no longer an easy touch both on and off the field has been a long time coming.
Ed’s Note [JN]: I am a firm believer that two of Power’s red cards were not red card challenges, but nevertheless only one was overturned. Yet, there is more to aggression and giving 100% than rushing into dangerous positions. Though the tackle offence on each case wasn’t a clear-cut decision, the two (and the impetuous red at Bradford) all involved Power putting himself in a needless position, forcing the red to make a decision.
I do agree in principle with your point, but discipline is likewise as important as showing passion and giving no quarter. Lee Cattermole once had a terrible disciplinary record, but with experience he has managed to channel his aggressive nature in the correct way.
This is vital as the season draws on and long. Power himself alluded to a change of style on Saturday evening, and while he will return to his regular ways over time, caution must always be ushered.
One part I do agree with is hordes of fans needlessly attacking the players on social media - and they certainly do pay attention to their social media timelines and notifications.
Power is one of the most talented midfielders in the squad, and hopefully he is learning to cope with the pressure cooker of playing for Sunderland while still finding the balance to channel aggression and give no quarter.
Dear Roker Report,
I have seen speculation about why people with no connection to Sunderland become fans of the Black Cats. My first recollection of Premier League games in the U.S. on NBCSN was during the 2012/13 season.
Looking for a team to support, I thought of Alf Wight (A.K.A. James Herriot), since I have enjoyed the All Creatures Great and Small books and TV series. Though raised in Glasgow, Mr. Wight was born in Sunderland and followed his father as a Black Cats supporter. He often drove the 50-odd miles from his veterinary practice in Thirsk to Roker Park, and he enjoyed both of Sunderland’s F.A. Cup triumphs. So I chose Sunderland, too.
I don’t think I was much aware of the great escape in 2014, but I did follow Advocaat and Big Sam’s additional escapes very closely. After that, I suffered through the relegation seasons.
For 2018/19, I paid SAFC the £110 (nearly $150) to stream games and listen to Nick [Barnes] and Benno (with a delay of a few seconds). Besides the success under the new owners and manager, I am also enjoying many of the Roker Rapport Podcasts. Re-watching the All Creatures shows, I just found a reference to Sunderland in episode seven of the 6th series.
While tuberculin testing with a farmer’s son, Herriot is frustrated by the lad’s inattention to the work at hand, while blithering non-stop about Newcastle United. Finally, James says, “If you have to talk while you’re working, talk about Sunderland, eh?” That remark went completely over my head back in the late 1980s.
Malcolm (Mac) Craig
Ed’s Note [JN]: Welcome to the Sunderland madhouse, and I’m delighted you are enjoying the podcasts so much!
Welcome also to the inevitable suffering. Let’s just enjoy this magic carpet ride in the third tier, as being a Sunderland fan arguably wont be as pure and honest as this - if we are looking up. Promotion begets success, but also a changing culture. If we need to learn from anything this year is to keep hold of this for as long as possible.
On the quote in the show, get used to mentioning love for Sunderland and hatred for Newcastle in the same breath. We all do it and will relish the opportunity we again get til finally meet them in a Wear-Tyne Derby.