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Fan Letters: Readers debate Sunderland’s problems, and how much supporters & owners are to blame

RR readers Harry and Michael give their thoughts on Sunderland’s current problems and argue who they feel is to blame for where we find ourselves in League One. What do you think? Email us:!

Sheffield United v Sunderland - Carabao Cup - Third Round - Bramall Lane Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’m writing this a couple of hours after the defeat to Leicester City. I think many supporters will agree that the “ Trophy” is nowhere near the top of our priorities. That said, after a defeat to a U23 side in a competition that nobody cares about, I’m quite shocked to see certain sections of the fanbase (a minority, but some nevertheless) having a dig at SD and his crew.

A recent letter touched on the inherent negativity of the Sunderland fanbase, and its spot on.

Firstly, Honeyman was arguably hounded out of the club by a group who felt he wasn’t good enough. Unsurprisingly, he’s now a regular at Hull in the division above, so clearly it can’t be Honeyman or the rest of the playing squad who were the reason we failed to get promoted. So, everyone turned on Ross, because if it’s not the players’ fault, it’s the manager. It didn’t take long until we turned on him. Given the poor results (how could we fail to beat damn BOLTON…) it seemed justifiable.

Now, under Parkinson, we’ve lost four in six…

And now this vocal minority will turn their focus on the ownership. After giving both the players and the manager so much grief, and the problems persisting after their replacement, the root of the problems MUST be the owners! Surely! Where else could the problem possibly lie?

To put it bluntly, the fanbase is the problem.

Yes, we give up our time, our money, our lives to football our club. Through thick and thin, we have, and are, supporting our club through its darkest time. Such dedication is commendable.

BUT I can’t help but feel sympathetic towards Charlie Methven when he comes out and has a go at certain “fans”. It must be infuriating for him and Stewart Donald, who single-handedly turned this club around, to get so much unwarranted abuse. They aren’t perfect owners by any means, but the treatment they get from some is appalling. I’m not saying they’re above criticism, but that the criticism that they receive must be justified – and the vast majority isn’t.

The supporters of a club are critical to a club’s success. I confidently believe that the rise in hostility from some fans is a major contributing factor to our struggles at present – if the players don’t think the fans are behind the team, then of course they’ll lack confidence and play worse, I mean just look at Will Grigg.

As a group, we need to buck our ideas up. Stop being all high and mighty with our “oh my word I can’t believe we’ve lost to F****** SHREWSBURY” and accept that we aren’t a Premier League or Championship team anymore. The reality is we could be stuck in this division next year. I don’t want another Checkatrade/”insert-awful-sponsor-here” Trophy campaign any more than the next guy, but that is the reality we face if we don’t back our club this year. To take an awful cliché, as supporters we are the “twelfth man”, and at the moment we aren’t acting as a team player.

On a side note, given that I’ve already had a pop at some supporters, there’s also quite a bizarre culture growing amongst some Sunderland fans as to who “the best” or “most dedicated fans” are. If you don’t go to a game, you’re shamed for it, you should be supporting your club. Such an attitude is ignorant of supporter’s financial and personal situation, as well as harmful to the unity of supporters, and I do hope this approach disappears promptly.

Harry Redman

Ed’s Note [Gav]: You make some decent points but I’m not sure I’d be as blunt as to say ‘the fanbase is the problem’. Obviously there are some fans who are not helpful to our cause, but I wouldn’t say any one group within the club are ultimately responsible for our failings.

Perhaps the way forward is to preach for sensible debate. Disagreeing with each other is fine, but far too often there’s no room with some people - particularly on social media - for a reasoned discussion. If you can’t agree at the end of it then that’s fine - at least you’ve got your point across without being belittled.

Nobody at the club is beyond criticism, not even the fans. But I’d rather not pin the blame for Sunderland’s descent on an entire fanbase, one full of passionate and committed people who only want to see their team rub shoulders with success.

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

Dear Roker Report,

Just my opinions and own views.

When are those fans still have a love in with Stewart Donald going to start looking forwards instead of backwards all the time?

They insist that him and his mates saved the club from being another Bury. With respect to Bury, Sunderland were never going to be the next Bury. Of course I have no proof of that but where’s their proof that they would have been?

Under his ownership the club that we all love is at the lowest point in its history and that’s certainly not the fault of the fans.

In the summer fans, pundits and press knew the squad was short of pace, strength and height. Nothing was done to put that right.

Despite this we are fed continuously with bull s..t. Strongest squad in league for 1.

100 point season for 2. The fact is the squad is weaker than last season. And there’s no chance of 100 points.

We plumb new depths week after week and it’s all happening on Donald’s watch.

The owners gambled everything on promotion last season and when it didn’t happen the club was left with no plan b and owners who could not finance another promotion campaign.

Where as the recent investment is very welcome, it’s new owners with the wealth to take the club every step of the way back to where it belongs that’s required.

Until that day happens I think the lows are not ended yet.

Michael Clarke

Ed’s Note [Gav]: I’m still pretty confident that we’ll get promoted, though those who disagree are welcome to their opinion. I guess we’ll see. We need to spend money on strengthening the squad in January and if we do, we’ll go up.

I agreed with the decision to sack Jack Ross when they did, as did many other supporters at the time, and I was happy enough with the appointment of Phil Parkinson. I’m also not personally bothered by our progression in any of the cup competitions and want to be out of them as soon as possible, so the fact we’ve lost two cup games under Parkinson doesn’t bother me in the slightest. As I write this we’re 7th in the league, three points off third with two games in hand. Now is not the time to judge - Parkinson hasn’t even had a full week’s training with the players because we’ve played a tuesday-saturday-tuesday pattern since he walked through the door - the small improvements we’ve seen in our performances are a result of simple instructions, rather than defined work on the training pitch.

The next opportunity the owners will get to effect matters on the pitch will be in January, and we have to get our recruitment spot on. At least we know now that investment is going into addressing the issues we have in that department - I just hope January isn’t too soon for us to see a return on those improvements.

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