Dear Roker Report,
I’ve got me tin hat on, but the opprobrium we’re heaping on Portsmouth players and fans after both legs of the semi final risks veering into hypocrisy.
Bar Maguire having a bit of a kick at Naylor, I think our players coped with the situation in second leg significantly better than theirs - credit Jack Ross for that. But self control isn’t always something you associate with Sunderland players. This season, across all four divisions only Grimsby, Stevenage and Fleetwood have had more players sent off than us.
As for us supporters, Portsmouth fans chucking stuff in the first leg was awful. It was genuinely dangerous and there should be arrests. For my money that incident was much worse than anything that happened at the second leg, including the O’Nien ‘handbags’. Anyone who thinks it’s alright to kick and punch another person is wrong. To do it at a televised football match adds foolishness, and to make one the players your target makes you an idiot. The situation came about primarily because the the fans and players are much closer than at a more modern ground. Take those factors out and could such events really not happen at Sunderland?
Sunderland have a fair number of muppets associated with our club, too - Coventry, anybody? Or are our fans always just being passionate while our opponents are thugs? Every football club attracts imbeciles, we shouldn’t pretend otherwise, and we should condemn them equally whoever they’re associated with.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: You’re right - every fanbase has their minority of idiots who like to spoil it for the rest of us. It just so happens that in the recent series of games the Portsmouth fans have been particularly idiotic - well, those of them who like to throw pyrotechnics about and punch our players, that is.
If Sunderland’s supporters/players behaved in the way we’ve seen the Pompey fans and players behave recently then I’d call them out for it too. We can’t create hypothetical situations here - fact is that some people acted horrendously and they’ve been rightly castigated for it.
Dear Roker Report,
I’d like to share my feeling for the upcoming playoff final next Sunday.
As a Sunderland fan I wish for the club to get back to the Championship and possibly beyond BUT - and its a big but - only when they are ready and I’m not convinced that this squad has got what it takes to make it in the second tier.
McLaughlin, Oviedo, Cattermole and McGeady are good enough, but the rest?
If we were to get promoted next weekend the club probably needs to sign between 8-12 new players. The whole defence will be under scrutiny and in midfield I have serious doubts concerning McGeough and Power.
Leadbitter is a quality player but is getting on a bit and Honeyman, a hard worker hasn’t excelled in League One. Maguire and Gooch aren’t consistent enough and when it comes to the strikers, well if you don’t score in League One...
If the club manage to find new investors that can come up with the necessary cash Jack Ross will find himself back at square one where he has to rebuild a whole new team - and that will take some time doing.
On the other hand, if we should fail to make it past Charlton another year in the third tier would mean that we will grow stronger, with a couple of necessary additions in defence and midfield. Watmore and Grigg will be back fully fit, youngsters like Mumba, Robson, Embleton and Kimpioka are one year older and I’m sure that the club will be in a better position to get promoted and more importantly to make it in the Championship.
To get promoted next Sunday only to go down again this time next year would in my opinion be the worse scenario because where would we go from there!
Steve the Swede
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Let’s get there first before we start ripping the squad to bits, eh?!
I disagree that we’d need between eight and twelve new players. Yes, we’d definitely need to improve the squad but I don’t think it’d require the kind of surgery that you’re suggesting. Jon McLaughlin is more than good enough. Bryan Oviedo is highly likely to leave, but in Denver Hume we have a very talented player who has the potential to grow in that role. Luke O’Nien is good enough to play up a league I think, and the rate at which he’s developed in an unfamiliar position certainly suggests he’s got the ability to improve even further.
We definitely need better defenders and I don’t think any of the current crop would be considered first teamers in the league up. With Glenn Loovens retiring and Jimmy Dunne returning to Burnley that’s two spots that straight away need to be filled. Tom Flanagan is versatile which is why we’d keep him around, though I’m not sure what would happen with Baldwin and Ozturk.
I think our central midfield options are strong and we’d just need to add some athleticism and power to compliment what we’ve already got, whilst pace and trickery out wide is needed to add to our current crop. Wyke and Grigg would make able back up in the Championship so again, we’d need to add some quality, but no major surgery would be required in my opinion. This may all be moot however if we don’t win on Sunday.
Once the season is over we’ll let the inquest begin!