Dear Roker Report,
I’m sitting in the sunshine in a reflective mood, wondering how it all went so wrong.
Ellis Short was championed as the big player who dwarfed Mike Ashley’s fortune and was going to turn Sunderland into a true international force. Fast forward ten years and he is being lauded in most quarters for his generous gift of writing off the club debt, a not insubstantial gesture by the way.
Ellis Short in my opinion made three major errors during his tenure:
1) Letting Niall Quinn depart for the rich rewards on offer from Sky. Quinn knew football inside out and would not have allowed the subsequent hire and fire mentality develop.
2) Sacking Martin O’Neill, a passionate Sunderland supporter who’s football nous is well respected throughout the game.
3) Hiring Paolo di Canio, and the subsequent fallout from placing trust in Roberto De Fanti.
After that it became a merry go round. ‘Hands up... who can keep us up?’
Short had one major piece of bad luck when Sam Allardyce departed for England, but to be honest whether he would have stayed anyway given the mess was open to debate.
We now find the club burdened by financial fair play regulations. Until the large earners are removed from the wage bill we will be unable to comply with the rule that only 60 percent of income can be spent on wages. This will be worse again next season whether promotion is achieved or not, as the parachute payment reduces again.
The solution is exactly what the current regime are trying to achieve. Bring in or through young, hungry players that if they are successful can help the team achieve and then hopefully be moved on for good profit.
Sorry - l know that in the eyes of true fans Sunderland should be the only place to play football, but in reality it doesn’t happen. Our two academy graduates plying their trade at the World Cup are unashamedly red and white but neither gave us a second thought when a so called bigger club came along.
This will enable sound principles akin to other much smaller clubs like Burnley and Bournemouth.
So, let us give this new regime time to build. The signing so far are players who are known to the manager, so we must hope that his judgement is sound. Get some of the mercenaries off the wage bill and l am sure there will be some more signings to excite the fans.
Onwards and upwards!
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Ellis Short made many big mistakes, but the one that I feel exceeds them all is the fact he was an absent owner. In the end it became apparent that Ellis’ failure to be hands on at the club is what led to the many smaller issues we experienced during his time.
To own a club this size and run it properly you have to commit yourself to it, and throughout his time as owner he simply didn’t. He placed faith in others and kept paying the bills but it meant that his money was badly managed, and that is why we are in the position that we are in now.
Thankfully the new owners appear to have a completely opposite approach and, fingers crossed, it should mean that we see a more transparent version of Sunderland that the fans can feel genuinely part of.
Dear Roker Report,
I am writing this in view of concerns that had steadily been arising since the new ownership team came in. I have been filled with excitement and a new belief that finally, after all these years, we were going to make the most of a bad time in our history to change things around and a have fresh start.
I understand we need to be frugal with our funds and buy the right calibre of player with not only the right attitude and desire, but also the ability to play at this level and beyond.
Now my concern is not the fact that the players we have brought are all freebies, but that having sold Borini, Lens, McNair, taken Rodwell, O’Shea, Steele, Wilson and others including loan players off the payroll, we are still being told that we need to get rid of more before anyone can come in.
Is the club in such a mess still that our budget to match a championship side is even less than last year?
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Paul, I advise you listen to Stewart Donald talk about this on our Podcast with him a couple of weeks back. He explained in detail why the club are operating the way that they are, and it made perfect sense.
Essentially we are paying out an absolute fortune on players that have no future here. Donald said a good wage for a League One player is around £3-5k a week - now consider what we are paying the likes of Bryan Oviedo, Lamine Kone, Lee Cattermole for example. It’s sensible business to ensure you rid yourself of these players before aiming to recruit, and I applaud them for that.
Throwing money around isn’t essential in trying to achieve promotion from this league. Our business so far has been in the free agent market because you’ve got to move quick to get the best players, and I feel that in the acquisitions of Jon McLaughlin and Dylan McGeouch in particular we’ve done very well to attract them here. Had they commanded a fee we’d have been looking at close to £1m for each, and we got them for nothing.
There’s also plenty of time left in this window and we still have plenty of signings left to make.
Let’s just let the new owners and the recruitment team get on with their jobs before speculating and questioning about the way things are going. The time to panic would be on deadline day if we haven’t adequately strengthened, but for now lets just be patient.
Dear Roker Report,
This is Adarsh again from India.
This summer a real sense of optimism has engulfed the club. This should continue till the very end of the season. Even if the early results don’t go our way, the fans attending the games should never leave the stadium before full-time.
The players should have a self belief of turning a match around, even at the final whistle, and for that they need the fans calling out even for the very impossible of the results.
You’ve already seen what a passionate set of fans do to a very, very average team like Iceland. Mocking a teams performance on social media are no big things, and if it’s possible go watch the match at the stadium and bark out at the lazy players if there are any.
Another thing I saw was a guy from Cape Town claiming he is the only supporter from the area. Can I do a similar one from India?
Ed’s Note [Gav]: It’s always good to hear from you Adarsh! I hope you’re right and that the newfound enthusiasm amongst the fanbase continues right across the season - we all seem to be on the same page again and if the team can start with a few good results, who knows what might happen? I’m excited!