Dear Roker Report,
I thought it was time to drop you a line about my thoughts on the state of our club. I don’t even know where to begin. I have mixed emotions about a number of topics and my feelings are all over the place. Here goes:
Will Grigg. It’s just not working is it? It’s not just that he looks like the Lee Camp of strikers, it’s that he doesn’t even look like he wants to play here. I don’t know if that’s due to his insanely low scoring totals affecting his confidence, or if he was forced out of Wigan and just never wanted to be here regardless. Maybe we’ll never know, but the bottom line is it’s just not working. If I could bend Donald’s ear for 5 minutes I’d ask him to bite the bullet, take the huge loss and move Grigg on. No one is going to pay a fraction of what we paid for him, so it will be an immense loss. After the penalty miss yesterday against Oxford, you can feel the fanbase has fully turned on him. Like Jack Ross before him. Sunderland need goals to get out of this league and there’s no room for passengers and at this point, that’s what he has become. He is draining club funds and offering up nothing but dismal performances and fan frustration each time he steps on the pitch. The situation has become untenable I feel, and it’s time to move on. Things are only going to get more toxic with each passing week barring a hot streak of goals the likes of which league one has never seen before. I think we all know by now, that just isn’t going to happen. I wish it hadn’t come to this.
Phil Parkinson. This guy needs our support, not attacks. He’s inherited a squad that’s not his, and has only been in charge 4 games. We are attacking more. The goals will come provided we stop playing Grigg. 3 losses in 4 games looks bad. I understand that, but it’s not Parky’s fault his players are missing tap ins and penalties. Parky was not my choice, I wanted Stendel, but Parky is what we’ve got and we have to get behind him. The attacking football we’ve played under him hasn’t been that bad truth be told.
Missing sitters. One thing Parky can do is dedicate more training to finishing. The players have to stand up and be counted though. They are ultimately responsible for taking control of their own careers and work harder in training. Stay late and work on finishing, or come in early and do it. They are lucky to be playing football professionally and they ultimately have to step up and work on their game. Parkinson can only get them playing in a way that creates chances, which he has. He can’t manage AND score the goals. I demand more of these players. Finish the sitters. Score the tap ins. Pull your socks up and get the job done. Your careers are not going to last forever.
Lastly, Stewart Donald. I’ve been a supporter of his for quite some time now. I believe after righting the ship, he deserves the right to make some money off the club. However, I am beginning to get frustrated with him. I know we can’t really blame him for Grigg being a failure, not living up to his hefty price tag, but the fact remains that Donald blew a lot of dosh on this guy, and he’s been utterly abysmal. What I am frustrated about is his lack of investment. Other than Dobson, everyone we brought in this off-season has been a free. What kind of investment is that? We need investment and we need to stop getting freebies. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind getting free transfers in, they just can’t all be free. That’s not the kind of recruitment that breeds success. Stewart says that we have the money, that he can invest if we need, and then proceeds to bring in all freebies. This will create doubt in the minds of fans regarding the authenticity of his statements. You never listen to someone’s words, you look at their actions. Stewart Donald’s actions, to me, show that he has no money and is telling the fans what they want to hear. All that will do is breed contempt and mistrust. From the outside looking in, the optics show that we gave away our most valuable players and replaced them with free transfers. We are in rough shape as a club at the moment, and it’s time Stewart Donald stood up and was counted for what’s happened to us during his time in charge. He needs to take the bad along with the good he’s done us.
Hopefully the strikers begin putting away the multitude of chances they are getting game after game. Hopefully we begin to turn the corner and put a streak of wins together. We need to get out of this league, and we need to do it now. The alternative is unthinkable.
Sorry for the novel, I’m just passionate about my club and felt the need to express my feelings. Keep up the good work Roker Report.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Cheers for the letter Scott - I’ll address each section individually.
Re: Will Grigg - I wouldn’t say the full fanbase has turned on him. I certainly haven’t. I think that whilst his penalty was poor on Tuesday, so was McNulty’s, and whilst he scored he also missed two sitters. I wouldn’t dwell on it an awful lot - I tend to agree with Parkinson, that fans have remained largely patient and that it’s up to Grigg to re-find his form now. Before Tuesday, Grigg had scored twice in four games - not an entirely terrible return, and I thought he was excellent against Tranmere.
Re: Phil Parkinson - I agree with all of that. I actually think we’ve looked improved in all of the performances since he came in and that in the last two games in particular we’ve had no luck at all. On Tuesday we were denied two blatant penalties and hit the woodwork a number of times, whilst again at Shrewsbury the story was much the same. I think we’ll probably lose more games than we did under Ross, but we’ll also win more because we’re playing a more expansive style that sees us attack freely.
Re: missing sitters - The numbers suggest that McNulty and Maguire are our best forwards, so logically it’d make sense to pair them together going forward. If we can keep them both fit and firing, we might just stumble upon our best attacking combo.
Re: Donald - I know that you submitted this letter before yesterday’s investment announcement surfaced and I’d be interested to see if you feel differently as a result. Feel free to write in again as a follow up!