Dear Roker Report,
I am pleased we are finally off the mark with an emphatic win against Tranmere, and although I have huge doubts about the managerial appointment, I hope I am proven completely wrong.
On the subject of last night’s win, the star of the show was undoubtedly Duncan Watmore. Forums have rightly been singing the praises of his skill and added dimensions to the cause. However, I really don’t wish to pee on anyone’s firework, but we need to look at the overall picture of what a fully firing Duncan Watmore could really mean for us as a club.
I hate to say this, but if he puts a good run together, he is bound to be noticed by other teams again, and this time, his transfer may actually be a definite, rather than speculation as in the past. Rightly so, he has made it clear he wants to play at a much higher level, but we all want us at a higher level, and we want our best players to stay the course with us.
I guess what I am saying is that it would be par for the course for us if we got him fully fit, playing great football, and then lose him in January. Surely we have a right to expect loyalty and payback to the club and the fans for how we have all backed him through the dark days of injury.
I really hope I am wrong with this, but I did hear his Father a while ago talking about transfers and loyalty to clubs etc, and he seemed to put a different marker down about his opinions on it. I am probably jumping the gun, but I would hope that DW looks at what has happened to the likes of Asoro and Maja before thinking the grass is greener.
Granted, it might be for Pickering and Henderson, but these guys were not injury prone, and we were actually in a much healthier situation than we find ourselves in now. I get the feeling Parkinson is looking at building a team around Duncan, so let’s just hope that all these factors are repaid if the worst comes to the worst and teams come knocking.
Ed’s Note [Damian]: Not to take from Duncan’s performance against Tranmere Rovers - an exemplary performance, undeniably - but I don’t think he belongs in the same bracket as Maja, or even Asoro. Not because there’s a marked difference in the ability of those three players (though if we’re honest, Maja is the best of them and Asoro the worst) but because not only is Watmore at an age now when he can’t really be considered a prospect, he has a torrid injury record that would make any potential suitors blanch.
I don’t doubt that if Watmore’s performance was consistently on par with the weekend’s in a season unblemished by his bad luck, he would have had offers that were genuine opportunities to play at least Championship football while we muddle about down here. Whether anyone would be willing to risk money on him depends entirely on his fitness. If he stays fit and emulates his Tranmere performance, I imagine it would be a great loss to our squad after what would surely be a season full of assists and goals; no doubt pivotal, in this hypothetical scenario.
If it comes to the question of “loyalty” to the club - by all accounts Sunderland AFC has done all it can to support him through the amount of time he’s been on the treatment table. But they are contractually obligated to do so, so can it really be considered anything more than protecting an investment you can’t rightly move on? If a suitor had come in for an injured Watmore six months ago, would we have taken the chance to get a high earning, oft-absent player off the books? I look at the likes of Honeyman going out the door for pittance to underline the ‘austerity’ measures put in place under the new owners, and I would think so. Equally, what loyalty should an employee have to their employer? Duncan Watmore didn’t grow up wanting to play for Sunderland. Like most players he doesn’t owe us anything more than what’s demanded of him as a prerequisite to picking up his salary. As grandiose as the job may be, it is still a job after all is said and done. While some individuals fall in love with a club and a city after however much time entrenched in the culture, many more don’t. Beyond that spiritual connection I can’t argue that, based on the foundations of an employer-employee relationship, any loyalty should exist.
In an ideal world, Duncan Watmore goes from strength to strength and realises the potential so many have seen in him. In an ideal world, he doesn’t get hit with a recurring injury and another long-term layoff that sees his good work and Sunderland’s good faith burned back down to square one. In that world all is well and we should be glad to have the trepidation of losing a valuable player because it means we’ll be enjoying the fruits of those performances. I think, though, that if we want to build our hopes around someone, it shouldn’t be someone who the fates have so far been so fickle with. If Watmore becomes a mainstay and a talisman - f*****g good for him, and us, but hoping after one great performance that he’ll be around to make the difference to our overall fortunes feels like setting yourself up to be disappointed.