Dear Roker Report
I read today the excellent points made by Ken regarding the criticism of Will Grigg. I’d go further, the general level of negativity displayed by a percentage of our support is frankly alarming. Let’s think of the obvious for a moment, as of KO on Saturday automatic promotion was in entirely within our own grasp, we’re at a Wembley final, have ownership who appear to have the club and supporters at heart, an improving team on the pitch and a young manager hungry for success with a reputation soaring by the week.
WHAT IS THERE TO BE NEGATIVE ABOUT?
Lugging in on conversations whilst enjoying a plastic beaker or two of that fizzy liquid the Ice Bar calls Carling, it seems last Tuesday night was the doom ridden event that has created a new wave of super-negative vibes. That game is going to result in the team crashing out of the promotion battle, plummeting to our relegation into League 2. At least that seems to be the opinion of the doom gloom gang of our hard earned point at the ground of a team above us in the league and with a home record almost equal to ours. What a disgrace, I mean to not even score!
Ah well, at least when the action on the pitch starts I may be able to insulate myself from this negative illness. Not a chance. I had the misfortune to sit amongst a highly infectious bunch with negative bias syndrome which must be highly infectious judging by those sitting around the core element. Mind you I did have a sarcastic smirk or two at the Chief Grump and his loyal side-kick. The former never clapped, encouraged or cheered any of the action but had a go at everyone on the pitch in Red & White, and the Scottish idiot in charge apparently is talentless according the gospel of Grump. His side kick just continually snarled. I remember feeling glad that young George wasn’t playing. I’d hate to think what encouragement he’d have received from them. Then there was the tactic genius whose insightful instructions to the team was basically one command ‘hump it into the mixer’ and at some point every player was given this decisive order. How I kept a straight face when during HT he informed me that the only way to beat Walsall was to ‘play football’.
I accept that we’re all passionate about the fortunes of the lads, and that we’re all entitled to our opinion and if we all agreed with each other life would be so tedious. However there surely is a time and place for negativity, as there is for support and encouragement.
At this present moment in time surely it has to be the latter. Yes we’re not going to play scintillating footie for every 90 minutes, but I genuinely believe every member of the squad is giving 110%, when was the last time we could say that?
If we are going to return to the level we all believe the club should be at then kill the negative vibes. Criticism where it is due is a valuable thing made in the correct context but to just moan....... d’yee not think yee just mak yersel look a bit of a prick man!
Ed’s Note [JN]: Thanks for your letter, Alan. I think everyone reading that last sentence did so in their loudest and most glorious Mackem accent.
I agree, so many of us are far too quick to jump back onto negativity when things don’t go our way, and at times some people are downright toxic in their abuse.
However, maybe this can be explained by two factors; experiencing the long-term downtrodden hopes and (mis)fortunes of Sunderland over the last decade - particularly the first two years - and secondly, heightened expectations.
If we finish any lower than first, this season will statistically be recorded as the lowest point in our history, and even finishing first would be the joint-lowest. Despite the renewed life and hope at the club, watching a team who genuinely fight for the shirt win most weeks, it is a fact hard to ignore. Many have renewed expectations thanks to the hard work of the club and players this season in turning the oil tanker around.
I don’t want to defend this negativity, and I do not feel it myself (I’ve personally loved League One), but I just want to try and look into the minds of those who do offer such negativity.
To them, I say just enjoy the ride. We are at Wembley, automatic promotion is in our own hands and we finally have the soul of our club back - no longer is it a rotting carcass left alone to fester through apathy and mismanagement from the boardroom to the stands, via the pitch.
I’ll never understand why people proclaim to love their team constantly barrage the players and don’t allow themselves a second of relief or happiness at watching a team made up by a core of local, academy Lads succeeding and winning games regularly for what seems like the first time in an age.
League One is an unpredictable thrill ride, and I am 100% convinced with our continued, loyal backing (from the vast, vast majority) the Lads will end up on the right side of the automatic promotion places.