Dear Roker Report,
Of course every fan is entitled to an opinion. But I just cannot understand the comments towards Jack Ross on this page in recent weeks. Sure, he’s made errors. I’m sure he goes in every Monday and think why oh why did I do x y z. But, we still have a chance to win the play offs; however, instead of giving the manager full support, people call for his head. They aren’t going to change a manager before a play off semi final, so why not park the negativity and get behind the team?
I feel these “fans” would rather see him fail so they can preach on Twitter about how they predicted it in August. This squad is not as good as it appears. For all the quality of McGeady, and Maja before, our midfield and defence has been bang average all season. Any one with any clue predicted Portsmouth, Luton and Barnsley would be strong and surprise surprise the have been. They were settled squads on an upward curve. We were in the sh*te.
He has lifted us into the play-offs from a desperate position in pre-season, kindled a team spirit, a fan connection, got people back to the stadium, and provided a Wembley Final.
Unless I’m mistaken the season isn’t over yet, so get behind the lads. We’re all gutted not to finish second, but to just say “Ross Out” on your Twitter because you’re frustrated is embarrassing.
Ed’s Note [TA]: Everyone is entitled their opinion, Louis, but I agree that the time for a proper inquest is not now. We have several more games left to decide our fate, so you’re correct in suggesting that we need to really back the Lads ahead of the final run in.
That being said, Tuesday’s horror show was definitely a defining moment of this season. All the issues with this side that people have noted for the last several months somehow merged together to create a terribly turgid performance. There are definitely some underlying issues at play and they need to be sorted out as soon as if we are to find any semblance of success. Some fans, including myself, struggled to hold emotions in check after Tuesday’s defeat.
As such, while you’re right that we need to back the team, people will also voice their frustrations. It’s a difficult balancing act to manage, but it’s one we need to navigate until we know our ultimate fate.
Dear Roker Report,
As Grace would say...
It’s not over, not over, not over, not over yet...
The season may be all but over, and for many fans, the season ended with the defeat to Portsmouth at Wembley. For others, it ended when automatic promotion was taken out of our hands.
To them, I say it’s not over until the final whistle of the final game goes.
I’ve remained positive throughout this season. I certainly didn’t think we’d walk it. New owners, new manager, practically entirely new team and a new league. We were, yet again, a big fish that was dumped into a new pond, with a massive target on our backs and weight on collective shoulders.
In my opinion, the pressure to get out of The Championship or even stay in the Championship was greater and we all know what happened there.
Oddly enough, I think the pressure to get out of League One at the first attempt hadn’t really started to build until the turn of the year. Maja leaving and bringing in Grigg will be highlighted as a potential black mark on the season. Grigg is still to be at 100%, but if Maja had stayed, would he have helped push on for automatic promotion? Who can say?
You could argue that we added pressure to ourselves by adding a cup run to our already busy schedule, but would you say the same if we’d won the trophy?
If you were offered play-offs and a Wembley final before the first ball was kicked in August, would you say no? I would argue many would say they would rather have guaranteed promotion, and I think that’s fair enough.
However, we still have the chance to have both – we just have to do it the hard way.
Isn’t that just Sunderland in a nutshell? We never do things the easy way. If we had it easy, we probably wouldn’t be as much fun to follow (I use “fun” in the broadest sense of the word).
There are many who have said this season is a disaster, and even the worst season we’ve had. Personally, I think that’s bollocks. I’d have put the 15 point relegation from the Premiership as probably the worst season ever. There have been others almost as painful as that, but to say this season is a disaster is a bit of an overstatement.
If we don’t go up, it will be disappointing, of course it will be. I’d be gutted, but there’s nothing I can do about it. Now is not the time for excuses. The time to learn from mistakes this season has passed. 19 draws is unacceptable if you want to win any league.
There is still a chance we can be promoted, but it will take a team effort to do it. Nothing short of full commitment. Make the second half as good as the first.
It’s difficult to be optimistic – especially if you were at Fleetwood last night! – but what do you gain by being pessimistic? If we lose, you’re proved right. How is that a good thing?
It’s not over, not over, not over not over…..
Keep the faith.
Ed’s Note [TA]: Loving the musical themed letter, Chris! Thanks for writing in today, your letter is a great one. As I noted above, there is a fine line between voicing your concerns and coming across as being cynical or overly pessimistic.
That being said, as much as I agree with you statement that we would have potentially taken a Wembley final and the play-offs at the beginning of the season, I think it’s also fair to note that recent performances have been pretty poor - and fans have every right to voice their frustration at that.
Of course, constructive criticism is definitely better than merely pronouncing our predicament as ‘sh*te’, but fans definitely have a right to be upset at how the season has panned out - especially when you consider the fact we had automatic promotion in our own hands. We were literally in control of our own destiny and we couldn’t hold it together.
Moving forward I know all those upset will continue to back the Lads in the hope that we find promotion via the play-offs. Fingers crossed we can pull it off.
Dear Roker Report,
As a Sunderland supporter of over 60 years, I have to say I’m absolutely astounded at the criticism of Jack Ross.
I see he’s just obtained his UEFA Pro-Licence something he’s had to work hard for over a considerable period of time, I just wonder how many of the keyboard warriors on here who know footie far better than Jack (in their opinion) have their UEFA Pro Licence?
Lets go back a few years when we lost to Charlton in the play off final. I remember supporters saying Reid should be sacked for not getting the expensive squad promoted. Punters on TV said the devastation of losing that final would mean we’d struggle in the Championship the next season. However, let’s be honest, if we had won that final we would probably have struggled in the top flight, that team just wasn’t good enough.
Look what happened the next season, though, a few tweaks and a record number of points and a far better side got promotion and gave us 7th place in the top flight for two seasons running.
I see the same comparisons now. This team, in my opinion, will struggle in the Championship if they are promoted. Maybe with another year in League One a better side will be promoted and do well in the Championship and press on from there.
To get back to Ross, I see criticisms of his substitutions, team selection and tactics (all in hindsight of course), but let’s be fair, Jack has only been a manager for under four years, and he’s had no previous experience of management in England. As such, I think he’s done very well. I’m sure he will learn from his mistakes and become a very good manager in time.
Despite all this talk of a large expensive squad who should have walked the league, I don’t think it would have been different under most other managers. For instance, do supporters think we’d have had such a good season if say Simon Grayson had still been manager?
We started the season with virtually no players. We brought in free transfers and players who had only played at League One level or below, so supporters were saying we’d be lucky to finish mid table. Yet, Ross has managed to get them to gel reasonably successfully. The recruitment has been generally good, I don’t think any of the players brought in (many of them free transfers) have been a waste of time or money.
Finally, wherever we end up by the end of May, I have to say I’ve really enjoyed this season. It’s been nice to see the team winning games (or not losing them!) - especially at home. Bearing in mind the miserable nature of the last two seasons, it’s nice to see the new owners building up the rapport with the supporters so the connection between club and fans is back to where it should be.
I believe this season is a stepping stone, a first small step in getting the club back to the big time - it won’t be easy but it will come eventually. I, for one, would love to see Jack Ross still here when the do get there.
Ed’s Note [TA]: John, a fantastic letter that has really forced me to consider the situation from a different perspective - thanks for writing in to us.
I do think fans have a right to criticise our recent form - why we suddenly stop playing with tempo and purpose after taking the lead is a bizarre issue that is painfully obvious to see. Like you say, though, I’d like to think that Ross acknowledges this problem and will work toward resolving it.
When you consider the wider issues that plagued the club ahead of this season, you’re right in suggesting that we have come a long way. I think the issue most fans have, including myself somewhat, is that the problems facing Ross and the side right now appear to be recurring ones. We’ve needed pace, physicality and athleticism for years now - why haven’t we addressed that issue? We also don’t seem capable of sitting back and protecting a lead, so why continue to play so conservatively once we have scored?
I hope that your assertion is correct that history may in fact be repeating itself as Jack Ross prepares to do a ‘Reidy’. I’d genuinely love to see Ross do well here as he’s seemingly a fantastic bloke with the club’s interests at heart. He has done rather well in gelling what was essentially a brand new side together, that is undeniable. As you say, hopefully he can find a way to help these Lads succeed.