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Fan Letters: Reasons for concern - are Sunderland supporters right to be worried or not?

After the departure of Josh Maja and a small run of indifferent performances, some supporters are worried as time dwindles down in the transfer window. Are people right to be concerned? Email us: - we’ll include your message in the next edition!

Danny Roberts |

Dear Roker Report,

Sunderland supporters are brilliant says Andy Dunn (the Mirror. 30/11/2018).

We all know that. What I cannot understand is some of the negative and nasty comments by some of our supporters.

Stewart Donald has came in and been open and honest with our supporters, yet some people are still not happy. I bet any other football fan would love their chairman to be as forthright as ours.

Jack Ross has came in and done a great job with limited resources. Some supporters need to realise what division we are in and he is putting together a team to get us out of this division. Every team we play are going to up their game and try beat us because we are the prize scalp of the division. We must be more savvy and not let teams bully us, we have the players with the experience and skill to do this.

Do you think it possible the swines up at St James Park could be posting some of the unhelpful comments on your letters page?


Ed’s Note [Gav]: People are just worried, which is understandable because we’re in a bit of a rut and have lost our top scorer. Thankfully, we will sign some new players in the coming days and that should perk us up again - as would a nice win over Wimbledon next weekend.

Sunderland AFC

Dear Roker Report,

Our current League position in League 1 is still rather encouraging, and (hopefully) we will make it back to The Championship at the first time of asking come next May. However, had it not been for the loss of several points over the course of the last few games, then matters could possibly be looking even better, i.e. we’d surely now be occupying one of the two automatic promotion spots/be top of the table. And with this in mind, I’d like to bring up one or two concerns, which, if they go unaddressed/unchecked, could well lead to our efforts so far ultimately going to waste.

First of all, four out of our last five League games have ended in draws, and while those v promotion rivals Charlton & Luton were probably popular choices to end all-square, we surely should have taken a six-point haul from Shrewsbury & Scunthorpe. But winning games, and ultimately achieving success, is largely down to an ability to hit the back of the net regularly, and at the same time prevent your opponents from doing so. And re the matter of goalscoring, the fact that we’ve managed just one goal in each of our last seven League games is a bit of a worrying stat. A bit of a contrast say, to Luton, who at the weekend hit four without reply v Peterborough, another side with Championship ambitions, and one who managed to peg us back not once but twice when they visited The Stadium Of Light last October. Which leads onto the matter of defending, and being able to keep a clean sheet/see a game out/close it down, something we’ve failed do with rather alarming regularity of late, hence the loss of potential winning leads v Shrewsbury, Luton, Charlton & Scunthorpe, while the lack of creativity needed to break down opposition sides also seems to have surfaced.

It would surely be true to say then, that the aforementioned/unwanted habits & stats are not really associated with a side who has genuine promotion ambitions, and indeed, I seem to have lost count of the number of times such deficiencies have proved to have been our undoing in the past, so I just hope that the points lost in recent games do not prove to be too costly come the business end of the season.

We now of course face a break before our next League engagement, a first-ever home meeting v AFC Wimbledon, in which case our inactivity next weekend could well see us fall further into arrears points-wise, and possibly even drop a place or two in the League 1 table, in view of the fact that one or two of our promotion rivals are in action, whereas a better points return from recent games may have proved to be a “safeguard” of sorts against such possibilities.

I guess the manager himself also comes into the equation, for while I’ve no desire to unjustly criticise Jack Ross, who has generally speaking done a sound job so far, some of his decision-making re tactical changes and team selections/substitutions have appeared a bit questionable at times.

As I said previously, we’re still handily placed in the League 1 table, but the fortnight’s break seems rather an opportune time in which to try and address the various issues which have reared their heads, so we can hopefully tackle what will surely be a challenging last three months or so of 2018-19 in better shape.

And one rather pressing priority is surely the upgrading of the first-team squad, with defence, central midfield and the forward department (particularly in view of the Josh Maja situation) the areas seemingly in need of most urgent attention, particularly as the end of the current transfer window is on the horizon.

In which case, its surely time to take stock/re-assess, and as such the next two weeks may prove to be pivotal, if our dreams and hopes for this season are to be fulfilled.

Andrew Cockburn

Ed’s Note [Gav]: Good summary of the current state of play Andrew. My opinion is that, despite time running out, now is not the time to judge the owners on this transfer window. Stewart Donald promised he’d bring in three players on Twitter, and whilst that’s a bold statement we now have to have faith that he’ll meet that expectation.

PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I believe Sunderland will get back to the Premier League relatively soon, i.e., within the next 5 years. However, I desperately hope and desire as Sunderland reach the Championship and beyond, they do not forget the lessons of their previous tenure.

I also hope we as fans do not forget the lessons we have learned.

Sunderland should be a club that accepts and centers itself around its location, not a club that views itself as out of the way and simply throws money at foreign players in order to attract them away from larger, metropolitan, cities, overpaying as a form of recompense for having to live their.

Sunderland should follow Bournemouth’s example, and concentrate on young British talent that appreciates the country away from London and is happy to live and play there.

This may mean Sunderland will have to pay premiums for young players, and they may be projects, but the excitement of young talent and the future compensation from selling on, offsets to some degree this consideration.

Why do I mention this - because sometimes fans, when their club becomes comfortable in the Premier League, forget all the struggles that led to that point. They view their club as a Premier League team, that will never be anything other, and they want signings and players that are exciting and exotic, and they place pressure on the club to fulfill that desire.

Only when that strategy fails, as one can see in our case or in the case of Stoke City, who heavily pursued this policy, does one recognize the issues that arise from pursuing complete mercenaries, meaning players that only move to a place they do not like because of compensation.

This is not to say that foreign players from X,Y, or Z cannot come to Sunderland for the right reasons, they certainly can, and they should be welcomed. But as fans, we should not view always the exotic as more exciting, nor the experienced as superior just for the sake of exoticism or experience.

Who knows, with the right finances in 10 years, Sunderland could stop emulating Bournemouth and start emulating Tottenham, and become known as a bastion of young talented British players.

Colter Lasley

Ed’s Note [Gav]: Absolutely bang on, Colter. I believe Sunderland fans need to start thinking along these lines, recognising what it was that got us into this mess. There’s a huge pool of fantastic young talent outside of the Premier League, and it’s about investing and believing in a recruitment team who can identify the players that can really make a difference as we continue to rise up the leagues.

Just think of the money we’ve spent in recent years on poor players who never amounted to anything at Sunderland. To name but a few: Djilobodji, Ndong, Lens, Alvarez.

In the future I’d rather see us spend the money we’ve got on players who not only stand a chance of succeeding here, but also stand a chance of making us some money should they do well and move on to bigger things.

Swansea City v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

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