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Fan Letters: “Nothing but promotion will do for Sunderland - failure will seal our owner’s fate”

“Right now, Sunderland fans won’t settle for anything less than promotion. If we miss out again this season, the owner’s position is untenable” writes RR editor Damian Brown. Got something to say? Email us:!

Dear Roker Report,

Every day I am becoming increasingly alarmed and upset about the very damaging negativity that is seeping out of some (so-called) SAFC supporters and even some journalists. I agree that everyone is entitled to express an opinion but it needs to be constructive and certainly neither abusive nor pure bile.

We know things need to quickly improve to achieve the success we all crave, but lambasting owners, management and players at every opportunity is not the way to go, it is so de-motivating and demoralising. Would you have the desire to work your socks off for a group of people who railed against you constantly when the going gets tough? We are in real danger of creating a Sunderland pandemic from which there is no recovery. I am already, sadly, beginning to feel a less uplifting atmosphere at games. It’s hard to keep being positive when things aren’t perfect, and I should know as have been doing it for almost 60 years now!! But that is what we have to continue doing if we are all to come out the other end with smiles on our faces again (oh how I long for the joyous”Cheer up Peter Reid” days).

There is no safety net left if we mess this one up and in the process chase away the people who, I genuinely believe, are trying their very best to get us up and running again and competing at the top level.

I have been very impressed of late at all the positivity that surrounds the Ladies Team. They are motivated, grounded and becoming very successful again after what was a potentially disastrous situation they found themselves in. They are a credit to themselves and us. Let’s take a leaf out of their book.

I want all of SAFC to be highly successful, I want to be celebrating victories, I want to be a deliriously happy Sunderland supporter week in week out and I don’t want to be part of anything that potentially stops that from happening. So please, please, please let’s all try our best to be more forgiving, positive and supportive. After all my glass is still half full and I fully intend to keep it that way.

Ann Coldwell

Ed’s Note [Damian]: Sadly, the habits you’ve described are becoming increasingly common and seemingly hard to kill. There’s no simple answer because it’s such a complex situation, and one could argue that the reason it’s so hard to kill off is because precious few involved understand the true depths of their feelings on the matter.

Of course, everyone knows that they’re hacked off after years of disappointment and even neglect. One might think this is an example of unreasonable impatience considering we changed owners and survived what could have been a nuclear meltdown of the whole organisation, but I think it’s something akin to the resurgence of a disease; the symptoms (pessimism and negativity) of the disease (a mismanaged club) were alleviated with the injection of fresh optimism under a new regime, but it transpires that the new regime alone isn’t enough to be a cure. The disease adapts to fight the medicine, and the next case is that much more extreme as a result. Promising the world and delivering very little has led to this cumulative pessimism that’s been building up, barely held in check by regular cash injections and staff turnover, and it now washes over us all like a wave.

The simple fact of the matter is that I can’t blame Sunderland fans for feeling pessimistic. We’re fast becoming used to the idea that we have no right to be in an elite division because we can barely stay afloat two below it. Losing the play-off as a second loss at Wembley was a savage blow that, frankly, broke the camel’s back.

Right now, Sunderland fans won’t settle for anything less than promotion. If we miss out again this season, the owner’s position is untenable. The only thing that keeps people like you and I sane is the belief that things must get better, and the tiny hints of progress you can make out with eyes that want to see them.

I do wonder if the reason the Ladies have a more positive and upbeat following is partly due to their loss of status and the only way now being up, and partly to do with the ongoing efforts to ensure that negativity doesn’t follow on from the Men’s game. Women’s football has been unfairly criticised for far too long but we’re seeing a change in attitudes within the sport, and as a result those that follow the Ladies go into that atmosphere willing to be optimistic to a fault. As a fan of the Lads, it almost feels like your God-given privilege to whinge about them.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

New manager same old sh*te, there should be bit a of spark there but no we seem to have gone backwards not improving. Tactics are the same as Ross were too many backward passes - it’s just to negative.

Last season any half wit could see we needed strength and pace added to the squad has not happened Saturday was men against boys we were bullied knocked off the ball so easy it was embarrassing we have not learned from last season.

The signings this season De Bock too slow, Dobson I’m afraid not good enough passing is woeful we need 10 Oniens the lad gives 100% every game. On Saturday the number of high balls was ridiculous we need to get the ball on the ground and play football, the forwards are getting no service whatsoever when they do they are snatching at the them.

We know Grigg looks disinterested but so would you getting service like he’s getting at the moment, so many times on Saturday runs were made but the play was too slow and players looking for the safe option.

Parkinson has to get ripped into the players who are underperforming week in week out - Maguire, Mcgeady, Grigg, McLaughlin, Power, Watmore - and play attacking football, not this dross we are watching at the moment because his current record at this time is not good enough. People say or wait till January but if we continue to play like this we will not get up players keep saying we have been unlucky the quality is there

Words mean nothing about time they did it on the pitch.

The example of a team who all play for there manager and give 100% is Sheff Utd - so come on Sunderland let’s give 100% till the end of the season, not the 50 or less we are getting at the moment... or I fear it’s another season in league one.

Mark Wild

Ed’s Note [Damian]: Well firstly I feel you’re conflating the squad’s lack of talented/fast players with Parkinson’s very short tenure, Mark, which isn’t going to work since he hasn’t had the opportunity to bring in any players. Also, this idea that’s been doing the rounds since Grigg arrived - that he doesn’t receive service - is a complete fallacy, for my money. If Grigg didn’t regularly receive the ball we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to watch him fail to do anything with it so many times.

What I see when I watch Will Grigg and the service provided to him, is a striker that has to go an extra inch or a yard to receive the ball in a prime position, yet is unwilling to do so. I wouldn’t say that he’s incapable because you don’t get the sort of reputation he had upon arrival if you can’t deliver the goods, so to me it’s abundantly clear that his confidence is shot to bits. Is that anyone’s fault but his own? It could be argued the fans haven’t been endlessly patient with him but they shouldn’t be expected to, and the manager’s certainly are and have been giving him the benefit of the doubt on a weekly basis. Whatever’s wrong with Grigg, it isn’t the lack of service.

I disagree that we’ve seen no improvement, but I find myself doing it more and more these days. Our tactics have shifted to a more aggressive stance, more is expected from individual players, etc. I could go on for ages only for half the fan base to disagree with me, suffice to say my point is that the chief reason behind our relative lack of success in Parkinson’s short time as gaffer seems to be the performances of individual players that I believe, had Parkinson had the benefit of experiencing these recurring, poor performances on the basis that Ross did, wouldn’t be the first names on the team sheet. McGeady and Grigg specifically - both need some time warming the bench until their heads are straight.

I think it’s a matter of patience. Invariably we won’t see the back of Parkinson any time soon, and he should have the opportunity to put his stamp on the squad. I’ve said before - in Parkinson we have someone that has been in and around League One for some time, as opposed to Ross whose only tenable player knowledge came from the Scottish leagues. I have confidence that Parkinson is qualified to fill the gaping holes in the squad with players that fit the bill and hit the ground running as a result.

Sunderland v Gillingham - FA Cup Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Hi, I have been a season ticket holder for many years now and I spot a few areas where safc fanzines could use to their advantage and improve match day experiences. When I first started visiting the stadium of light every week there was a number of pin badge sellers that would stand on the bridge outside the stadium and always have lots of customers. This is only a little thing that seems to be missing nowadays but I feel it’s an area where someone can use to their advantage and bring some sort of match day collectors item back.

Callum Waites

Ed’s Note [Damian]: Loving your enthusiasm Callum but I can’t say Roker Report have any intention of merchandising any time soon. A Love Supreme and the SAFC Supporter’s Club both sell such things from their respective shops, if that’s any good to you. I floated an idea about collectable stickers of Sunderland legends in the match day programme - something I noted at a West Ham game with a friend - but it didn’t take. That sort of thing is great for the kids, and us big kids.

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