Dear Roker Report,
The game against Charlton could easily have gone the wrong way if the pattern of play in the first 20 minutes had continued.
The defence was flat footed and slow early on, but then Donald Love went off injured and Bryan Oviedo came on. I was right on the halfway line in the East stand and within seconds of coming on Oviedo bullied their winger off the ball - and you could see the determination in his face.
For me that was the moment the game changed.
Bryan Oviedo doesn’t want to play third tier football and has the talent to play in the Premier League.
He has just returned from playing in the World Cup and, like other players, could have opted to drop out of the first team set up or could have just refused to come back.
For me Bryan Oviedo epitomises what a real professional footballer should be. He came back, wanted to be involved, trained hard and was a huge part our victory.
I have always liked him at Sunderland and would love him to stay. Sadly I’m sure he will move on during this transfer window, but what he will leave behind is a great example to all other players.
You might not like the fact that you are contracted to a league one team but they pay your wages so it is your responsibility to come to work and put in a shift.
Bryan Oviedo I salute you and wish you the very best in your future either here or elsewhere.
Ed’s Note [JN]: I also think he will be off sooner rather than later, but his attitude must be applauded. Every year he sounds out to his native Costa Rican press that he would like to leave, but he still gets on with his job and plays to the best of his ability and effort. He is a real professional.
His introduction really aided change the game, balancing out our side nicely. I was surprised by how sharp he looked, considering he hasn’t played any football in over a month - despite going to the World Cup.
Despite his lofty wages, I think he would be the most welcomed of the six big-name and big-wage players who were on the clubs’ books at the start of the off-season.
Dear Roker Report,
I couldn’t agree more with James Nickels that Jack Ross and George Honeyman deserve the backing of us all in Jack’s selection of George as captain. I too am at a loss as to why anyone would want to be negative about the move.
Sadly, the negative comments and theories from a few - and I’m sure they are only a few - are possibly amplified by the ability of the malcontents to sound off straight away on internet message boards and social media.
Perhaps it’s part of Stewart Donald’s learning curve too that openness with supporters is welcome but some discussion/speculation regarding agents and players can muddy the waters! There will sadly always be a few who think it’s easier to make an impact with unpleasantness than to be optimistic and look forward to better times ahead!
Ed’s Note [JN]: I think Donald is learning the hard way about the sheer difference in size of non-league Eastleigh to Sunderland. Maybe he was hasty to announce the news regarding Honeyman, but the lad himself has never looked anything less than committed and it was all agent talk. That’s just the game, unfortunately.
I was impressed by his leadership on the pitch, being seen communicating and taking cahrge throughout the ninety minutes. Hopefully here is too much more of the same from the Prudhoe Pele (winces).
Dear Roker Report,
Well, that was just the start we needed, and I have to say that generally speaking, I was rather impressed with the result and performance.
OK, the performance wasn’t 100% perfect, but overall it was still rather encouraging. I guess when we fell behind to that penalty early on, that quite a few folk were probably thinking “oh no, here we go again”, for in all truth, Charlton did have the better of the first period, whereas we didn’t really get going at all. Perhaps this was to be expected.
But Jack Ross’ half-time team talk obviously did the trick, for in the second period we saw a rather notable transformation, a much more assured, workmanlike, organised performance, with the side also showing great character, all qualities which have so often been absent in the past, and as such I felt we deserved our success. And what perhaps made it all the more welcome, was the fact it was achieved by a virtually brand new group of players, still getting to know each other, “bedding in”, and performing as a team on the League 1 stage for the first time ever. All quite a contrast then, to some of the some of the disjointed rubbish which has tended to be the norm in the last few years, and with a bit more luck we’d have been looking at a bigger margin of victory, which certainly wouldn’t have flattered us, such was the way we controlled the game in the second period.
Still, it would be unwise to get too carried away on the basis of one good result, for “one swallow doesn’t make a summer” as the saying goes. Forty-five more League games (perhaps in some cases big tests/“cup finals”) lie ahead of us, League One has always been tough & competitive, certainly regarding the promotion stakes, and this season will surely be no exception. I reckon that by the end of this opening month we’ll have a better idea of just how we’ll shape up in 2018/19.
It’s also my guess that apart from ourselves, Saturday’s opponents Charlton, also Peterborough, Portsmouth & our relegation counterparts Barnsley, perhaps stand out as likely candidates to make the step up to The Championship come next May, with the latter in particular having underlined their intentions for a swift return “upstairs“, what with that 4-0 win v Oxford in their opening game.
However, our own encouraging performance/win has certainly given us a solid platform on which to build, and has hopefully set a benchmark of sorts for the rest of the season. So it’s a matter now of trying to achieve consistency in both performances and results, though it may be a case of being patient, as the new-look side develops into what we all hope will be an efficient unit and ultimately successful unit. So taking an optimistic view, once the first-team starts to really knit together/really “click” in terms of performances/results, and the crowds in turn respond/possibly make The Stadium Of Light a “fortress” once again, then who knows, we may well see “1987-88 the sequel”. Heres then hoping for just that.
Keep up the promising work then lads.
Ed’s Note [JN]: Agreed. Ross really changed the game at half-time, actively spotting our weaknesses and reacting to counter them perfectly. Charlton themselves flew out the traps too fast and were tiring even before half-time, but nevertheless Ross reacted well.
As did the Lads, who followed his instructions excellently and deserved the late goal.
In terms of promotion rivals, I agree. However, I think the spanner in the works is Luton. Their side last season was much better than League Two, and Nathan Jones is one of the best upcoming, young managers in England.
They’ll be bouncing from promotion still and arguably this Saturday is our biggest early test of our real long-term credentials. I’d be happy with a draw at this stage, but we will have a few more key players back and can really challenge.
These key players would strengthen our side dramatically, making it the most talented in the league - to get such a vital victory out the bag so early with so many injuries was one of the most pleasing aspects of Saturday’s game. Bring on League One.