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FAN LETTERS: Readers give constructive criticism of Jack Ross & Sunderland’s recent performances

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With one eye on tomorrow’s game with Rochdale, Roker Report readers Andrew and Jay offer up some constructive feedback for Jack Ross and the Sunderland players regarding their recent indifferent performances. Email us: RokerReport@yahoo.co.uk - we’ll include your message in a future edition!

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Dear Roker Report,

This is my opinion on the reason we lost against Burton last weekend, and why it will actually help us in the long run.

I think the biggest reason we lost against Burton is mostly down to Jack Ross. We’ve lost a bit of the swagger we started the season with and I think it’s due to the fact that the manager is trying too hard to use his full squad.

I think Jack Ross is just taking a little bit of time to adjust to a new challenge he won’t have faced before. St. Mirren will have never had a large squad and so Ross’ starting eleven probably picked itself week to week. I think that was the same as when he started at Sunderland - some players had extended leave, others were unfit, some injured, others hadn’t even arrived yet when the season kicked off. His starting eleven picked itself for the first few games.

Now however, Ross strikes me as a man with too many choices. I felt, before the game on Saturday, that the lineup lacked a clear formation. We had about six attackers crammed into a team that only really needs three.

I can understand the dilemma - you’ve got Sinclair from Watford who has probably been promised a certain amount of game time, big money signing Wyke now back from injury and can’t really be left on the bench, Maja won’t stop scoring, Maguire is one of our best players, Gooch is playing class, Honeyman is captain. Who do you leave out?

It’s the same in midfield. The return of Cattermole and McGeoch pushed Mumba out, and he was pivotal to our early form. So now we have three players there who play more or less the same role. It seems Power can’t be replaced, so that’s a headache trying to fix that problem.

All in all this will be a tough transition whilst Ross get used to this new style of managing. I do think it shows the depth of our squad though, and at Christmas and during the run in I think our big squad will count for a lot. We should gallop clear with the resources at hand.

Jay Hughes

Ed’s Note [Gav]:That’s an interesting point you make Jay, and not one that I’ve really considered. When you’re trying to keep everyone happy whilst also dealing with playing two games in a week it becomes the easy thing to do in rotating your squad, but the truth of it is that we probably need to settle on a team and attempt to stick by it.

Ross has, of course, had to contend with injuries and that has been half the battle. Perhaps the aim now has to be in trying to keep ‘partnerships’ together - for example, Baldwin-Loovens, McGeouch-Cattermole, Oviedo-Maguire, and so on.

Now that McGeouch and Flanagan are back it means Ross has the opportunity to put a team out there that is strong in every position - it’ll be interesting to see if he finally drops Matthews and goes with a player in Flanagan that is purpose-made for that right-sided central defensive role.

This is of course dependent on a variety of factors, but I reckon the team we’ll see tomorrow against Burton will be the closest thing to a strongest XI we’ll have seen all season.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’ve read/heard with interest some of the recent comments and thoughts regarding the team’s performance to date, the manager etc., and would like to make one or two of my own points in relation to this. And to start with, I have to say that compared to what happened in the previous two campaigns, which were in all truth rather disastrous to say the least, this season to date, although by no means perfect, has, at least in my view, been a bit like a tea party in comparison.

OK, so we’ve gone three League games without a win (including of course our first League defeat of the season), games in which our performances were below-par, certainly from a defensive perspective, and maybe the manager has not been entirely blameless.

But, to look at the overall picture, wasn’t this perhaps to be expected as Jack Ross tries to find his ideal first eleven/experiments with tactics in order to try and find a winning formula? Were our problems really, in all truth, going to be solved/the team’s deficiencies ironed out overnight, or even after the first few games?

It would have been more than welcome, but surely it was not really a realistic proposition!

Consider the facts - we’ve got a new manager at the helm (the first time he’s managed in the English League), and virtually a whole new squad of players. Therefore, surely common sense at least would dictate that it would take a reasonable timescale for the manager to truly get to grips with what has become a bit of a thankless task/succeed where many of his predecessors have failed, and for his players to hopefully gel into an effective unit?

I also seem to recall hearing somewhere that Jack Ross was not felt to be the right man for the job, but surely yet ANOTHER managerial change (I must confess, I’ve lost count now of the number of occupants of The Stadium Of Light “hotseat” in recent years), before the latest incumbent has had a fair chance to try and make his mark be bordering on the ridiculous, if not slightly insane? Has a lack of continuity, including the fact that we’ve had more managers than a local high street store in recent times, not been a contributory factor to us finding ourselves in England’s third tier for only our second time in our history?

The fact is, that in spite of our recent “blip”, we’re still handily placed in League 1. There’s a long way to go yet, and nothing is won and lost in September - in fact, I seem to recall that in our previous taste of third tier football, we were stuck in mid-table around this time following a second successive defeat, this time rather embarrassingly v Chester City at Roker, and just look what followed - an omen then of sorts, and perhaps also proof that there’s no reason for pessimism, at least not yet?

If we need to dip into the transfer market again come January, then so be it, but in the meantime, shouldn’t we all get behind the manager and team 100%? Rome wasn’t build in a day, so surely the same theory applies to our rehabilitation in League 1, so lets keep positive/the faith, after all, the latter can supposedly move, or at least help to move mountains.

Andrew Cockburn

Ed’s Note [Gav]: People always tend to overreact after games. I don’t think anyone seriously believes that we need another new manager - if they do, they’re probably best off ignored!

We can talk about things the manager does wrong though - after all, we give him enough praise when he gets something right so, for balance, you can be constructive when talking about mistakes.

Ross deserves our full support, and he will get it. But as the fella in the letter above yours quite rightly points out, he’s young and inexperienced and will make mistakes. It’s about how he reacts to his errors and how he gets around issues like the one with Wyke, for instance, that will characterise him not only now but for the rest of the season.

Good luck to Jack and the Lads tomorrow - here’s hoping we can get ourselves another three points to really put pressure on the teams at the top!

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images