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Fan Letters: Is promotion on the cards for Sunderland or not? RR readers have their say

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In today’s fan letters, RR readers James and Alfa discuss whether we should resign ourselves to the fact that promotion is unlikely this season, and what formation would get the best out of Parkinson’s men? Email us: RokerReport@Yahoo.co.uk!

Wycombe Wanderers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Should this season be treated as a write-off by fans? Since the club has elected to sack the manager and go in a new direction, surely that is going to cause instability, with ideas of promotion being a falacy?

I’m part of the group of Sunderland fans who’s adulthood has never seen us be good ever. I’d rather we kept what Stewart Donald has been doing, where we build something that goes beyond a manager and have a stable plan for the future. This season to me, requires everyone to just accept promotion this season isn’t on the cards.

James Whale

Ed’s Note [Tom]: Hi James, thanks for writing in! I’ve flirted with the idea as to whether the season is effectively done and dusted. However, I think there’s still plenty of time to climb the table and make a push for promotion.

This time last year Luton had played 14 games, won 6, drawn 4, and lost 4. They sat in 7th place, 11 points away from Pompey in first and 5 away from Peterborough in second. Sunderland at present are 8 points off first-placed Ipswich. I think if Parkinson can get the Lads on the same page and pick up a few results, then a strong second half of the season would see us challenging. It’s all about building momentum - and quickly.

Wycombe Wanderers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Now the dust had settled on Jack Ross’s tenure at Sunderland (and I was reluctantly in favour of his dismissal) I’m sure many a fan can somewhat sympathise with the dilemma Ross undoubtedly wrestled with for much of his time at the club. That issue being what system do I play to maximise the strengths and abilities of the players in our squad.

We saw to good effect Ross’s lopsided Christmas Tree formation early on and then once Maja moved on we tried a few different systems, none of which sadly proved ultimately successful.

Looking at the options available I’m becoming convinced that there’d by merit in experimenting once more with the 3 5 2 system that Ross attempted to introduce earlier this season before dispensing with it rapidly in the aftermath of a couple of poor 1-1 draws.

I think the midfield area is key to reversing our fortunes. A club of our stature should be controlling games for long periods at L1 level and this control is won by dominance in the centre of the pitch. Playing any combination of Power, McGeouch, Leadbitter, Dobson etc in a two just doesn’t give us that control.

In my view we need to put more bodies in this area to ensure that we don’t get overrun, we can dictate the pattern and tempo of games and we relieve the constant pressure on our defence.

Allowing our fitter, quicker players to play wide with the comfort of more cover in the middle gives them greater licence to push forward where they can concentrate on providing balls into the box for two strikers to attack.

Now that Lynch has settled in I’m sure he could play the left sided centre back role in a three which would provide a solid base to work from.

Playing this system would also leave the manager the option to bring players off the bench in the last twenty minutes of games who have the pace and trickery to make a real impact.

I’d like to see a formation something like this.

Burge

Ozturk Willis Lynch

O’Nien Power McGeouch Dobson Hume

McNulty Grigg

Subs

McLaughlin Flanagan De Bok Gooch Maguire McGeady Watmore

Alfa

Ed’s Note [Tom]: Interesting ideas, Alfa, thanks for writing in! I think Parkinson will probably stick with a 4-5-1 that served him well at both Bradford and Bolton. Historically, he’s relied on two wingers looking to get service into the opposition’s box. That might change slightly now that Wyke is to be sidelined for a while, but Grigg and McNulty should thrive on a system that exploits wide areas to create attacking situations as neither of them are adept at playing with their back to goal.

I think your central midfield triumvirate is bang on, and would allow use to control the middle of the park. That being said, I think we need a pacey winger with decent delivery, and another powerful forward to be able to really play the way Parkinson prefers.