Dear Roker Report,
There’s egg on the faces of all the Sunderland supporters that doubted Will Grigg. Quite frankly I’m astonished at some of the comments I saw about him in the build to Saturday’s game, particularly on that toxic RTG forum where I saw people writing him off as a flop, a waste of money, a League One Altidore and so on.
Some people seem to thrive on negativity.
The lad is a human being you know. He’s moved his entire life at the drop of a hat to a different part of the country, has joined a far bigger club and due to the price tag, there’s more pressure on him to succeed.
Expecting brilliance immediately is just stupid. The lad was always going to take time to settle in. He’s still settling in actually.
I have no doubt this boy will score goals for Sunderland for many years to come. But if people are just going to pile in on every new player whenever they don’t light the skies with a performance then we’re creating an environment where no player can truly succeed.
He’s quality - let’s continue to support him. Cut out all of the negativity and focus on the fact we are primed for promotion, with the best centre forward in the league up top.
Get behind the players, ffs.
Ken Burchnall (Hebburn)
Ed’s note [Gav]: I have to admit Ken that your reasoning is sound. We often forget that footballers are human and, as such, they’re more often than not dealing with other pressures that we as fans aren’t aware of or see. There can be a multitude of things affecting any given player, and that’s why I try to be more reasonable when judging new signings.
You’re right about Grigg, so let’s break it down. He was dragged out of his PJ’s on deadline day and had his world turned around - he was a Sunderland player by the next morning and, despite being injured, had to face the press, Podcasters, meet his new teammates and take part in light training amongst many other things.
Away from the club he then had to deal with the stress of moving home many miles away whilst also trying to be a good father and husband. And as time goes on and his family move closer and settle it’ll get easier, but presuming Grigg is either living out of a hotel or a flat on his own at the minute, things can get pretty lonely and that can affect your entire well-being.
That said, I think his performances since arriving have been consistently good. Factor in that half the time we don’t actually play to his strengths - and this isn’t something isolated to Grigg as we have done the same with others that have played up front this season too - and you have to admit that he’s doing just fine.
I’m glad he’s got himself a couple of goals recently, because that sets him up to get even more in the future. And as both his professional and personal life come into line, Grigg will get comfortable here and will only improve.
So, aye - let’s always keep in mind that footballers are human too, and despite being loaded with cash they quite often experience the same stresses in their personal lives that you and I do.
Oh... and stop reading RTG. It’ll send you barmy.
Dear Roker Report,
In terms of the team I’d go with at Wembley - I’d go with the standard 4-2-3-1 formation. McLaughlin in goal (I feel sorry for Ruiter who did nothing wrong in the early rounds, but it is what it is), Reece James back in at left back (Matthews was terrible there in both games this week and I’m not sure Hume is ready for such a big occasion), Baldwin and Flanagan in central defence, the incredibly dependable Luke O’Nien at right back, Grant Leadbitter and Lee Cattermole in the centre of the park, George Honeyman just ahead of them flanked on either wing by Aiden McGeady and Lewis Morgan, and then of course Will Grigg up front. What do you reckon?
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Hmm... I can’t really argue with that, but there are two big worries there for me. The central defenders (with just over a month of the season left I still have no idea who our best pairing are) and the wingers.
Lewis Morgan and Lynden Gooch have been given ample opportunities to prove their worth recently and I don’t know if either have actually done that, though in the semi-final Morgan scored and was one of our more effective players, so maybe we need to consider that.
I don’t envy Jack Ross one bit.
He’s going to have some very disappointed players come cup final day!