Dear Roker Report,
I mostly agree with Andrew Cockburn’s letter in yesterday’s edition of Fan Letters on your website. I heard Dean Richards (the guy in charge of Newcastle Falcons) on the radio a while back and when asked why there was a turnaround in their form he said something along the lines of ‘the lads have become a proper team. They know each other they play for each other and having been through adversity are fighting for each other’.
Since we were promoted to the Premier League about 10 years ago the only time we ever had this at Sunderland was under Steve Bruce, who was really unlucky the way things happened with Bent and Gyan. We’ve had a new manager practically every season since with new methods, new tactics and crucially, new players. It’s unfair to completely blame this on Ellis Short - some of the sackings had to happen or we would’ve gone down sooner and we’ve been so unlucky at times as well.
But, the net result is we still haven’t got a ‘team’. The players we do have thought the Championship would be easy but once they started losing, confidence disappeared and they can’t get it back, despite the odd morale raising draw.
We are going down. Miracles do happen, witness the last few seasons before the inevitable, especially Poyet’s time here but realistically it’s League One for us next season. Forget loan players. We have some very good under 23’s, some of whom were destined to play Premier league football and with a good manager in Chris Coleman - and some much needed consistency - a ‘team’ can be welded together. Once they start winning in League One they will come back.
Once back the odd judicial loan signing - and I’m talking one or two at most - will see us established as a Championship club with a genuine team. As the debts slowly clear and new owners (please, someone with an eye for an investment and who knows something about football) this team could be added to, as Wolves have done this season and suddenly we are back in the daylight of the Premier league with a team and manager who know what they are doing and are fighting for each other. If Chris Hughton and Brighton can do it so can we.
Every tunnel does have light at the end of it and given a consistent approach we can reach that light.
PS I saw the debacle of the 86/87 season and with one or two exceptions the players we have now are better than the players we had then but lost confidence means lost games and the general standard of football across the whole country is higher now than it was in the eighties. Nevertheless the players we had then became a team in division 3 and that is what has to happen again.
Ed’s note: Fair comment, Peter, I agree we need to blood the youngsters, and find that team spirit you’re suggesting has been missing for so long. I hope you’re correct in your assertions that Coleman will hang around and bring us back up into the Championship thanks to the exploits of our younger charges. Fingers crossed they take any opportunity presented to them.
Dear Roker Report,
In the summer when Simon Grayson took over and fans said ‘we are going down again’ I laughed and dismissed it. And now, well - don’t I look stupid.
With nine games left and us needing to win five of them it doesn’t look like we will see a miracle this year, and we will more than likely be playing Accrington Stanley next season. And I have it on good authority (I live in Southampton) that Portsmouth is wonderful this time of year!
Yes, looking at the table we are only 4 points from safety, but the issue is: where are those 4 points going to come from?
Our remaining 9 fixtures are:
1. Preston (H)
2. Derby (A)
3. Sheffield Wednesday (H)
4. Leeds (A)
5. Norwich (H)
6. Reading (A)
7. Burton (H)
8. Fulham (A)
9. Wolves (H)
Looking that, ideally the games we should (probably won’t) get points from are Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds, Norwich, Reading and Burton.
It is a sad state of affairs we have found ourselves in. When we went up under Roy Keane, how many of us thought ‘this is it, we can be a stable and attractive Premier League club for years to come’, with potential trips to Europe down the line?
Now it’s trips to Bristol Rovers, Bradford City (our “local rivals “for next season) and Oxford United.
How have we fallen so far so quickly? How are players like O’Shea, Cattermole and Jones getting an easy ride? Why and what is the point of Ashley Fletcher? Why can’t Jack Rodwell just disappear?
Twenty years ago this May I went to my first ever Sunderland game, at the old Wembley, to see the Playoff final against Charlton (who, coincidentally. we will be playing again next season) and after that match I was told that things would get easier supporting Sunderland.
I’m still waiting on that!
I find it amazing how fans of other clubs seem to think that the demise of Sunderland is humorous, and are lapping it up. It’s so awful to see any football club these days suffer due to poor ownership and leadership. It could easily happen to their club, so why laugh?
Ed’s note: You’re right, Hannah, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to find the points needed in order to stay up. It seemingly never gets any easier supporting this manic club, but it’s a marriage that’s impossible to walk away from. In the summer, I don’t think many saw a season of such abject failure on the horizon; I just hope we can keep hold of Coleman, find the team spirit Peter mentioned in the above letter, and sort out this toxic ownership situation... not a lot to ask for, then.