Dear Roker Report,
Honestly, we have not been good enough, and we did not deserve to be first or second. Luton have been much better this season, they deserve the title. Obviously, the last couple of months Barnsley have been more consistent.
The most obvious problem with our squad to me lies in two key areas: central defence and central midfield. In those two areas, week to week, any of four plus players could be playing, not due to injury but either due to the inability of any player to consistently display their ability or Ross’s preference for rotation.
If one were to consider the teams that finished above us this year, or the teams that finished first and second last year or the year before (or in most divisions at most times) there is generally some solidity and consistency that gives strength and cohesion to the spine and the team as a whole.
I do not think it is Ross’ fault, at least in selection. Those positions are remarkably similar in that there is incredible depth but very little difference in ability. Any given game any player could excel, but there have been no players that have been head and shoulders above the others for the majority of the season.
Whether we are promoted or not, this will have to be remedied. A positive of not being promoted this year, is there will be more clearing out. The squad will be made more lean, hopefully.
Also, while it is understandable that many want to see us promoted. Being honest, I am not sure we are good enough to do anything other than to avoid relegation. We spent over three million pounds on two strikers who have not displayed that they are in any real way a danger in this division, let alone capable of playing in a division above.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I have to agree with your assertion - I have said it before but I don’t believe our recruitment was good enough, and serious questions have to be asked regardless of how the summer ends. I understand that there was a huge amount of chopping and changing that needed to be made but quite how we got through two transfer windows without addressing the biggest issues with our squad remains a mystery. Power, pace, height and athleticism is sparse and I believe it’s our lack of all of those things that have left this hard-working side with the inability to mix it up, hence the 19 league draws.
I think we’ve made some very good signings and that the squad is big and loaded with experienced players, but as you say there’s very little difference in ability.
Aiden McGeady is a fantastic player at this level but we don’t have enough players who, like McGeady, can win you a game. Whether it be sh*thouse defenders, explosive wingers or a striker who can play off the shoulder of the last man, Sunderland needed those players last summer and did not address the issue. That, for me, has been one of our biggest failings and ultimately will have to be sorted out whether we’re in the Championship or League One next season.
Dear Roker Report,
I agree with Steven ( Fan Letters 01/05) on this matter. The season has been a total failure. A 4th place finish and a play-off date with Charlton Athletic beckons, a side in great form we must admit.
After the Fleetwood game I was making the journey home as though we had just been relegated again, totally deflated and angry - a 1-0 lead at half time to yet again blow it.
What is Mr. Ross saying to these people at half time?
Or is it that the 11 on the pitch are a bunch of bottle jobs?
We have drawn 19 league games across the season with 15 from winning positions. Not good enough. Only 4 defeats all season and still no promotion party says it all really.
Do I think we will go up via play-offs? No.
Will I be there next season? Too right I will.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: As hard as it might be to do this, I really think it’s important that we save the inquest until all is said and done. We all know the season has been below expectations and that we’ve missed out on our initial goal of a top two finish, but we can still go up and until we know if we’ve either completely blown it or succeeded then it wouldn’t be fair to pick things apart too much.
Like you, though, I’ll be there next season regardless. If we aren’t ready to go up yet then I feel confident that next season we’ll be better for it. But, right now, I think I prefer to focus on what we have to come. If we win on Saturday at Southend then I have no doubt the mood going into the play-offs will be a lot more cheerful, and that is key.
We need some semblance of momentum going into these massive play-off games and that will only come if we can take three points in our final league fixture. Fingers crossed...
Dear Roker Report,
Here we go again. The same spiteful blinkered cynics who have hounded out past managers are trying to do the same to the best thing that has happened to this club since Reidy.
Look, we need to get real. We ARE in League One because that is where we deserve to be. The league tables don’t lie. However, neither will Jack Ross.
Who else could have done a better job with this club than he has? No-one could.
The guy has practically built a promotion winning team from scratch. In reality, it is a miracle he has achieved what he has in less than 12 months in charge. The same cynics are trying to force out the new owners and will say anything they can just to stir the pot.
Give Jack Ross a chance for God’s sake. Who is out there any better? Who would actually want to come here and taste the poisoned chalice? This bloke will deliver. We genuinely could be on the cusp of having a brilliant Manager here if we give him time.
This guy is a winner, and he will be seething every bit as much as we are at this present time, but he has done wonders for this club. Get real people.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I’m not so sure we can say that nobody else could have done a better job without any conviction but I certainly agree that Jack Ross is the right man to be in the hot-seat long term. I recognise that he’s forward-thinking and probably a really good coach to work for, and whilst we are where we are I think we’d be foolish not to give a manager proper time to get things right. When Ross arrived the club and the squad was in a lot worse shape than it is right now and I think he needs to be allowed another summer at least to rebuild the team, whether that be in League One or the Championship.
He’s not immune from criticism though, and I think we have to recognise where he could have perhaps done better. I’ve already noted that I’m not convinced our recruitment was good enough, and I think the results over the season show that we’ve taken our foot off the gas far too many times when in leading positions which has ultimately led to the high amount of draws we’ve played out.
I don’t see what replacing the manager in the summer would achieve, really. It means starting from scratch again and we really don’t need that. Slow and steady progress is more important than radical change - we’ve already had a mental year and really could do without having another one.
Dear Roker Report,
Whilst it was bad to lose against Fleetwood, we all had already agreed ourselves that it was going to be the play offs because of goal average between ourselves and Barnsley was too big! Also we were asking for a near miracle for us to score high, and expect Barnsley to get beat.
I think this season has been a learning curve, and a shock to our system.
What with blind refereeing, and outright cheating from most teams - we just have been too soft to combat those type of tactics.
But the huge work done by Stewart Donald must be praised. He has rebuilt the bridge between the club and the fans giving us everything he possibly can, from new seats, to an up and coming manager, and finance for decent signings.
We have only missed out on automatic promotion by a few points. But we STILL have a chance through the play offs. We have got the players to do it. We just need to get tough, and prepare themselves mentally and physically.
It is absolutely crazy to turn on the manager, players and owners at this crucial stage of the season. Please back the team and help them get through to Wembley, and this time win it. We have the best fans in the world - lets cheer them onto success!
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Love the positivity Clive, even if I think you might be slightly crazy.
Look - if the Lads win convincingly on Saturday in front of the Sky TV cameras then I’m sure the mood will be a lot better than it is right now. Ultimately we’re all just fans who want to see the club succeed, and some are better at dealing with the potential of disappointment better than others. I’m just crossing everything in the hope we can make it through all of this as the team promoted via the play-offs back to the Championship.