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Fan Letters: Delving deeper into Sunderland’s problems; is an independent investigation needed?

“Is an independent investigation into Sunderland’s chronic mismanagement needed in order to ensure that this never happens again?” asks RR reader Jeffrey. Got something to say? Email us: - we’ll include your message in the next edition.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Well, I guess that could realistically be it, for it looks as if its just about all over bar the shouting, as far as us long-suffering Sunderland fans are concerned. Monday’s latest embarrassing (but perhaps not totally surprising) home collapse v Sheffield Wednesday, coupled with Birmingham’s win at Bolton now leaves us eight points adrift of safety with just six games to play including “easy” affairs v Champions-elect Wolves and play-off contenders Fulham.

The Burton home game did look as one stage as if it may be a vital six-pointer, but now it may well be pretty much academic, who knows, maybe for both clubs, the only real “spice” to the occasion being that it will be Burton’s first-ever visit to The SOL, a test for next season, which will likely see them visit Wearside for the first time in the third tier.

I don’t think theres any need for any real maths, calculators, etc., for we’re surely now more or less past the point of redemption. It does appear quite clear-cut, with a MINIMUM of three wins now needed (and that’s adding into the equation the assumption that the likes of Barnsley and Birmingham drop points, which does seem quite unlikely).

If we’re to have even now it seems, a faint chance of survival. In other words, its going to take the miracle of all miracles if the inevitable is not to become harsh reality, and I’m sorry, but on the evidence of the the rather pitiful surrender v Wednesday, it just isn’t going to happen.

Perhaps it may be a good thing for us to be put out of our misery sooner rather later, and maybe we should get the maps out now, and start looking up directions for a first-ever visit to Accrington in 2018/19, while maybe Chris Coleman needs to do the wise thing and experiment a little, what in order to assess his options (what few he has) for next season. All very sad maybe, but we can’t say it hasn’t been coming.

Andrew Cockburn

Ed's note [JN]: Agreed, Andrew. I'd love to see us pull off the incredible, but to ask for at least three wins in six games does seem impossible.

Maybe we will be better off rebuilding in League One, as painful as that is to admit. Personally, I'd start now. Let's get s core of players in the team who will likely be here next season and build our side around them; George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch, Josh Maja, Ethan Robson, Max Stryjek et al.

I'd love to put Joel Asoro in that bracket too, but surely interest from the Premier League and Championship will be swirling and quite frankly, I can't see us turning down any offer - despite how inevitably undervalued that my be.

Let's just hope Jack Rodwell and company never play in our red and white again, eh?

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Rather than repeat the well worn list of complaints and accusations, I will fire my concerns at you for comment.

1. At the end of each season, numerous players either on loan or out of contract leave the club, so where will the money come from for any replacements of any quality?

2. Why, despite regularly changing managers have we consistently recruited poor, poor footballers; are those responsible still there?

3. Are the trainers/coaches who have consistently failed to produce quality on the pitch being retained, and why?

4. As with all divisions, there is little difference between the bottom of one and the top of the lower, so why does anyone think we can’t get relegated again?

5. Why aren’t the legal’s using employment law, rather than PFA, to get rid of our £70k per-week carbuncle, or play him regardless?

6. Above all, our meteoric descent into crisis DEMANDS an independent investigation, for the club and it’s supporters, via a team of respected, experienced football and financial experts. To understand what has happened, apportion blame and create a map for recovery; this should never happen again.

Jeffrey Ledger

Ed’s note [JN]: Cheers Jeffrey, I’ll address these one at a time.

  1. There will essentially be a “free firesale” at the end of the season; don’t expect to see any of the current crop of loanees back at the club, and the same goes with those out of contract. We will naturally raise money through agreed loan moves being made permanent; Lens, Borini, Khazri, Djilobodji et al. Furthermore through sales of players such as Oviedo, Kone, Asoro and others. However, our meagre budget of this year is exactly what one should expect to spend in the summer; of all League One sides, only Blackburn and Wigan spent more than we did.
  2. Poor recruitment has killed us more than anything else. Simon Wilson was Chief Football Officer at the club for a short while after a very successful period as City Brand (Man City, New York City, Melbourne City and Yokohama City) Sporting Director. He failed here, and recently claimed in a Totally Football Show podcast that we rely way too heavily on agent talk and do not carry out due diligence. Scouting is poor, analytics is negligible. Hence the huge agent fees we saw announced just yesterday. That stems at the very top - for years Short has been left to run the rule with absolutely zero footballing nous.
  3. Well the managers, by large no. The senior backroom staff generally changes whenever a new man at the top comes in, but there have been a few ever-presents; Robbie Stockdale, Adrian Tucker, Peter Brand, Craig Russell, John Cooke but to name a few. Interestingly Coleman has brought in a few fresh faces such as Luis Boa Morte on a temporary basis - but the buck stops much higher than here. Men like Cookey have been at the club for years and play a vital role in the players “getting it”.
  4. Finances. We’ve reached our level now. The sh*t (money) trickles down, and League One has yet to have bore the fruits of the riches of the Premier League like the Championship has. Look at Wolves this year and Newcastle last year; each spent over £60m to fire themselves to the top flight.
  5. Unfortunately Captain Carbuncle has arguably the most watertight contract the club has ever seen. Football lives in a bubble - it doesn’t work in the real world or in real terms. Since Jean-Marc Bosman the players hold all the cards. Cheers for that, Lee Congerton!
  6. It shouldn’t. But it will. Give it maybe another 31 years though as with last time. Football is cyclical. I’d absolutely love for this investigation to go forwards; but once you’re out of the Premier League nobody else really cares about you, unfortunately. Numerous clubs are being held to ransom by their owners; Blackpool, Charlton, Hull, ourselves just to name a few, yet just this week the EFL are investigating Accrington Stanley owner Andy Holt for rewarding his players with McDonalds after a win. Their rise is meteoric and on absolute pennies. This man has done wonders for his club, town and region and is being investigated for it all while the Duchalaet’s, Oyston’s, Allem’s an Short’s of this world are allowed to do what they want. Disgrace.

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