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Fan Letters: Sunderland’s recruitment model goes under the microscope again - will it be fixed?

“There’s still no long term recruitment plan at Sunderland AFC - we sign too many players from the Championship who couldn’t get a game in that league” writes RR reader Adrian. Got something to say? Email us:!

Sunderland Unveil New Manager Phil Parkinson Photo by Sunderland AFC/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I would love to see the job spec of the Director of Football position. It appears to vary from club to club. I expect it depends on the candidate, but history shows us that they are not experienced football men.

We do need a football man in charge, especially overseeing recruitment. This is the area of great concern, and has been for many years, even going back to Roy Keane, trying to buy three players from Tottenham reserves! There does not seem to be a strategy here. We are signing free agents aged 29-33, who are reserve team players in the Championship. They are not going to get any better.

We had a year to look at all the players in our division and even League Two. We should have been making a list of young athletic players to bring to our club, not what we keep getting.

All the teams in our division have improved on recruitment, but we are no better than last season. Probably worse. Surely all players in League One and Two would love to play in front of 30000 home crowds. Burton are lucky to get 3000. If we can get the right man to put the club on a football first agenda, rather than our owners who appear to be here for only business reasons and to make a profit. There is a balance to be had, and we are no where near that balance. Our recruitment needs fixing.

Adrian Donnelly

Ed’s Note [Gav]: The recruitment has been a major issue. Where signing players like O’Nien, Dobson, Burge and Willis made sense, signing players like Baldwin, Flanagan, Leadbitter, De Bock and Conor McLaughlin have not and pointed to a flawed system lacking in direction.

Selling Reece James made no sense. He wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but he’s ten times better than De Bock, who replaced him last minute as we ran out of ideas on who to sign.

If it was me making the decisions I’d hire a Director of Football and give him free rein to restructure the club’s recruitment model. Get rid of dinosaurs like Coton and Hill, keep Donald away from the footballing side of the club as much as we possibly can and employ a system that makes sense for the future.

It won’t happen, but it won’t stop me going on about it.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

There’s still no long term recruitment plan at Sunderland AFC - we sign too many players from the Championship who couldn't get a game in that league. Instead of wasting £4m on another Will Grigg why not recruit the best 4 under 21 strikers from non league football?

Fraser Reynolds

Ed’s Note [Gav]: Non-league is a market we should definitely explore. Players like Macauley Bonne have made the transition from National league to Championship seamlessly this season, showing that the talent pool is there.

Regardless, this is a bigger issue. We clearly don’t scout the players we sign extensively, otherwise you wouldn’t sign players like Laurens De Bock and expect him to be able to strengthen a position that was previously occupied by James and Oviedo.

Charlton Athletic v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet Championship - The Valley Photo by Daniel Hambury/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Peter Taylor’s article was spot on. There is no way SD should have been allowed to buy SAFC. The EFL are an absolute disgrace and not fit for purpose in approving this take over or making some of the decisions that have helped ruin good clubs. The format SD had when buying the club was to rely on going up last season and then rely on selling the club (or his take is to get investment).

19 months later, we have the worst team in living memory and are in the lowest position in the clubs history. Please, please don’t tell me that SD saved our club from administration.

Peter Taylor is right to say that supporters need to scrutinise what’s happened and continues to happen, today, not when it’s too late. Voices need to be heard loud and clear. There are many supporters who have voiced their concerns over this whole takeover and will continue to do so, till our club has a proper, fit for purpose owner.

Sam Lucas

Ed’s Note [Gav]: I feel like Stewart needs to come to some sort of decision on the direction he wishes to go. He has three options as I see it.

  1. He keeps doing things the same.
  2. He hires a DoF and CEO, both based in the North East, to run the club for him.
  3. He sells to someone else.

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