Dear Roker Report,
In one episode of the TV comedy “Fools and Horses” Del and Rodney get lost in the country and wind up at a great mansion. They knock on the door to get directions, and the Butler says, “are you the men who have come to clean the chandeliers?”. Del does a double-take and very quickly they are on the job, although they have no idea of how to clean chandeliers or what’s expected.
That Fools and Horses episode is a parable describing what happened when Stewart Donald came calling at the Stadium of Light. Ellis Short was trying to get out by any means available to him and Mr Donald arrived at the door “looking for directions” after failing to buy Oxford United. It’s a parable explaining how Sunderland’s greatness has been hi-jacked for a pittance by a non-league Journeyman and his sweet talking “Executive Director”.
Experience and a very strong financial base are required if you are going to run a successful team. You also need to be strong enough take financial risks, and those who ‘play it safe” get nowhere and muddle along in the lower divisions. Mr Donald clearly has plans to make a fortune from his purchase. The problem is he wants to make that fortune without making any significant investment himself and without taking any risk. This was evident with MSD wherein he reportedly tried to personally secure a multi-millions post-deal payment when we got back to the Championship, and thence the Premier League.
Regrettably no investor is going to put up the necessary funds for our recovery in the small hands of Messrs. Donald and Methven. Mr Methven’s recent statements clearly indicate a “play it safe” attitude by the current ownership. We all know the club’s finances were in poor shape when they took over, but his comments clearly show we are not going to go anywhere soon. In fact, Mr Methven seems to think we are doing well!
We should not be surprised if their recent investments have been small-minded - they made a bid for Oxford United who saw through them, and they were trumped by the current Owner. So, they went looking for directions, and when they knocked on our door someone (probably Martin Bain) let them into our great club.
There have reportedly been at least two takeover negotiations which have failed because Donald and Methven won’t get out of the way. The MSD loan is “peanuts” in the overall scheme of things. $10m will buy us two good League One players at best or only a very small fraction of a Premier League player. The deal is also a little weird because the funds have been placed with Mr Donald’s company – not with the club. Mr Donald claims he and Mr Sartori together can easily cover $10 million if things go wrong. In fact, he makes a virtue of it!
Unfortunately, we need a lot more than $10 million to make it back to the Premier League. In 1988 we got up out of Div. 3 in one year. Our team was not stripped of its best assets, to make a quick buck, and no economies were made for “good financial practice”. By the end of last season Josh Maja was still our top scorer even though he left in January so Mr Donald could make a quick buck. There’s every reason to believe we would have gone up last season if Maja had stayed. The only way we are going to get adequate incoming financial investment is if an Investor believes we have experienced management, or if he/she can bring in an experienced management team in to run things in the best interest of SAFC.
We desperately need a strong manager but Mr Donald will never appoint a strong manager because (a) such a manager will want good money, and (b) Mr Donald will not want to hear “the truth” from a strong manager. Our Savior needs to be courted from his current good job in a higher division, but no manager (of the type we need) is going to take a risk on Mr Donald. We are going to stay in the lower divisions (hopefully of the EFL) while we have small minds and inadequate resources at the top of the organization.
In conclusion, please watch the episode of Fools and Horses on YouTube – it’s very funny until you think about the parable of Sunderland. Spoiler Alert - our season has come crashing down because the job has been left in the hands of people who are not competent to run a great team like Sunderland.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Whilst I don’t fully agree with what you’ve said, that analogy is funny. I actually think that the values our owners hold for how a club ‘should’ be ran are, in most cases, admirable and align with my own. I do however believe that the footballing side of the operation should be led by people who are experienced in their field.
Stewart and Charlie should have minimal input when it comes to footballing decisions. We should have a Director of Football, and should have had one as far back as the summer. Someone overseeing the entire operation that isn’t Tony Coton, basically. Your chief scout should be receiving directions from someone above them, as should your Head of Footballing Operations, Academy Manager, First Team Manager and U23s manager.
If they did that, and then focused their efforts solely on running the business side of the club, I think people would have a lot more time for them. They’d be less stretched and they’d be able to focus on what they are good at.
Dear Roker Report,
Where do I start.
I whole heartedly apologise for ever saying we could do worse than Jack Ross because with Phil Parkinson at the helm, it’s Howard Wilkinson 2.0.
My concerns were voiced across several fan forums via the wonderful world of social media only to be laughed at when I said and I quote, “Parkinson is a journeyman manager with no proven track record and will only put Ross’ efforts in reverse”. Well? Where are all the naysayers now? Statistically across 700+ games from Championship to League 2, he had a 38.9% win percentage. How on earth was he ever going to better this stat AND better our league position under Ross? Ross’ record across 75 league & cup games was 50.67%, lead us to Wembley twice and galvonised a sinking ship. From day dot, he was a step backwards. He even took (what I can only see as the reason we walloped Tranmere 5-0) John Potter with him and you know what, good luck to them both!
I know I wasn’t the only one bleating for Pearson & Phillips as the dynamic duo to lead us to promotion. I do sincerely feel sorry for Jack Ross as it’s now apparent he was doing a damn good job with the squad we had and I do wish we’d only waited for this £9M loan to come in (will save my concerns about that for later in terms of the charges that have been placed across the stadium & academy) to build a squad in January. Categorically and obvious to all, Ross had no Plan B when it came to turning games around... PARKINSON DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A PLAN A AT KICK OFF! He is so tactically inept as a manager that I honestly don’t believe he’s even qualified by the FA.
Please, Mr Donald, Mr Methven and the Board of Directors, get this Grade A wally out of our club.
Side note: This is the lowest we’ve been in the league since before the opening whistle of last season... and that’s only because of the alphabet.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I was initially supportive of Parkinson because I believe all staff and players deserve a chance to prove themselves at Sunderland, whether we agree with the decision to bring them here or not. I was keen not to judge him too early, and even now it feels too early to express my worry at the job Parkinson is doing... but my God, it’s so obvious he’s taking us backwards, isn’ it? The players don’t look like they’re playing for him and I honestly don’t see how the situation improves to the point we’re back in promotion contention.
I agree that he should go, but I don’t envisage them paying up another couple of big contracts and admitting that they’ve made a big mistake in bringing him here.
Dear Roker Report,
Oh my God. Just when you hoped we had bottomed out, along comes a further gutless inept display from the frauds wearing the red and white.
For many months I have heralded Nigel Pearson as our way forward, but the urgency of the situation is now grave and the situation calls for a more immediate return on the field than even Pearson could hope to bring.
As of now, Parkinson simply MUST go and be replaced by Roy Keane. It doesn’t just make footballing sense, it makes for sound economic sense. Keane would ignite the place again. The fans will come back, and he will ensure these wasters currently turning out for the club put in 100% effort, or be out, as simple as that. This decision cannot be delayed.
Another 6 or 7 tortuous games and we are done for the season. The last thing Donald should do now is wait until January to give Parkinson transfer funds. If he does, we will once again be loaded up with duffers clogging up the place. Keane would attract hungry players. He would ensure we had players who play for the shirt. Get him back NOW, or there is no doubt whatsoever we are doomed for at least another season.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Why would Roy Keane come here? I don’t think he’s the type of appointment these owners would make even if he did fancy it. He’s hard to work with and hard to get along with. I know he did a superb job the first time around but I’m not sure that he’d last very long a second time around - he’s not really had a successful career in management and that’s probably with good reason.
Having said that, he can’t be any worse than the current manager.