Dear Roker Report,
“We are the loyalest, football supporters, the world has ever had...” a line to a song that’s blasted game after game but I’m afraid, loyal is all that can be said.
We’re not good supporters, in fact I think we’re pretty poor.
All season, despite the ‘feel good factor’ being slowly injected back into the veins of the club, large sections of the crowd have moaned and groaned. The creation of the Roker End and introduction of some upbeat music prior to teams coming out have gone some way to help generate an atmosphere but truth be told, it’s still pants.
Yesterday was the icing on the cake. Charltons support was fantastic. Even at 0-1 down they were still bouncing, while we could only muster the odd chant. Yes you can argue that the team doesn’t do enough to generate an atmosphere but surely that’s when they need us the most? My first game was 1990 and I remember walking in to Roker Park and being hooked! The noise was unreal, and there was about 17,000 there, roughly half the average attendance this season. We are that negative two fights broke out near me yesterday, among our own fans.
I don’t know what the answer is but something needs to happen.
We need our roar back!
Keep the faith.
Gareth Duff (One deflated supporter!)
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I suppose it depends how you define loyalty. I certainly consider myself loyal but my own reasons are different and unique - as they are for most supporters. Some come because they can, some don’t come because they can’t. Others live too far away to come to games regularly, others just aren’t interested enough to turn up each week.
Loyalty isn’t defined by the amount of noise you make, in my view. it’s defined by being there, showing you care and showing your emotion win or lose. I saw plenty of that this weekend in London and I’m proud of my fellow fans.
How do you define loyalty? I’d say 32,000 Sunderland fans travelling to the other end of the country on eight days notice, spending a fortune in the process, is as loyal as it gets.
Dear Roker Report,
Stop the bus! I want to get off. At almost 64 years of age and 58 of them keeping the faith my faith has finally been broken into lots of little pieces and I can’t find the will or the desire to put them back together again.
There has to be better ways to spend Saturdays during the season than sat on a plane, on a train or in a car travelling to what more often than not has resulted in disappointment.
I’m afraid this season and yesterday was the final straw for me, the one that broke the camel’s back. Let’s not try and dress it up into something it isn’t. This season has been a major failure for the manager and his team. The worst position in the club’s history.
I don’t really get this hero worshipping of Donald and Methven either. Sure, they have reconnected the club with the fans, sure they have changed pink seats into red and sure, they are open with fans. Just how open remains to be seen.
We will never know, but would Coleman or Grayson have managed League One better than Ross?
I personally believe the club are in a more perilous position than ‘they’ would have us know. So much for having the biggest budget in League One, Mr Donald. It’s actions on the pitch that counts not words off it. Some players should bear that point in mind as well.
I may well get lots of people slagging me off for these views but I no longer want to be a passenger anymore on this journey to God knows where.
Stop the bus I’m getting off.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I understand that you’re angry and upset but I guarantee you’ll be in your seat at the SOL for the first game of the season. It’s the hope we can’t stand and all that...
Dear Roker Report,
It’s not necessarily what went wrong this season but what went right and how far the club has come on its route back to being our club.
To see the lads win again and again at the stadium of light was a real pleasure, to not keep losing was great as well, but ultimately all those draws were our undoing.
Charlie and Stewart have galvanised Sunderland and laid out an optimistic but pragmatic vision for the short to medium term future of the cub.
Neither have hid the fact, that although by anyone’s measure, they are wealthy men, they aren’t able to simply open up a bottomless pit of gold. In today’s modern football being ‘wealthy’ by our standards isn’t always enough if you have ambition.
If all you want is your club to become a happy, clappy, football backwater, ticking over quite nicely, then I’m sure both are able to keep our ship a float.
Neither of them come across as nothing less than ambitious savvy businessmen. They are both media friendly who spin a honest but rose tinted yarn, it’s what brought the fans back to the stadium of light.
The challenge will be, with only Stewart, Charlie and to a lesser extent Juan: how does Sunderland football club generate enough income, to reinvest and develop the club into a real force in football and navigate away from just a backwater existence.
More upheaval? perhaps a silent but rich benefactor (wishful thinking) or a new majority owners who have their own vision, who knows, but we do need further sustainable investment.
For a league one outfit we are still spending far to much on players wages. To be brutally honest the financial undertaking this season in those players on very good wages, hasn’t been a great investment, nearly but not quite just isn’t good enough.
League one and the championship demand players, with good physical presence, strong athletes, ambition, hunger, courage, desire, sprinkled with a bit of imagination and some degree of talent.
Over the last decade, we have been and still are a physically small side. Players with good technical ability but hobbled by their inability to impose themselves in games against lesser technical players who are just stronger and more aggressive.
League one is awash with ambitious, less talented but good athletes who are steeped in how to play and win in league one. They’re not all cart horses or donkeys. They are however, great at niggly, awkward, disruptive, time wasting game management, drawing fouls to win set plays for them to exploit.
If I can see that, then so can Jack Ross and the club. The academy produces some very talented players, that’s a given. Put out a full strength under 23’s out and they’d play pretty football but get bullied off the ball and struggle to hold their own in league one.
To keep hold of Oviedo, Cattermole, McGeady on big wages or not? I’d love to keep McGeady and Catts, I’m just not sure that’s the best use of our funds. Surely it’s time for Embleton, Robson, Hume to be given a chance?
McLaughlin needs to stay, we’ll need at least two experienced centre halves. Loovrens, Baldwin, Flanagan and Ozturk in any combination lack either the pace, guile, physicality to cope with the likes of Marquis and Hawkins or even the likes of Moore and Taylor who will ply there trade in the championship.
I’m unsure on Honeyman, he’s a busy player but too many times his passing and touch let him down. Maguire? He’s a talented player but inconsistent. If he wasn’t so, he’d play at much higher standard.
As for the loanees, they never ripped up trees and need to go back to their parent clubs. Wyke and Grigg, both had seasons riven by injury and just never got going.
Gooch? Another player who’s season just petered out. Power, the sendings off destroyed his game, he’s okay but not a man to build a team around.
Leadbitter, he needs players with legs around him who can find space and give him someone to pass to. To many times he’s played tight one twos with players who have the touch of a wall, easily closed down and turned over. Grant wants to get his head up, hit the long cross field ball and get us going forward.
We don’t have players who find that kind of space for him to do that. He’s not the future to build a team around but like Catts and McGeady they can help the young players to develop into their replacements who can become the clubs future.
Luke O’Nien is not a right back.
He is my player of the year, a gutsy endlessly enthusiastic, courageous lad, who epitomises the optimism and drive the team need. But he can’t do it alone and he’s not talented enough to carry the rest of the team.
It’s said ‘the table does lie’ we just weren’t good enough, drew to many games, our season just ran out of steam and if truth be told, it never really got going like Luton or Barnsley’s did . As for Charlton? They were the form team over the last 2-3 months and finished 3rd.
As I said the ‘the table doesn’t lie’.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I actually think we’ll see less upheaval than we might have if we had gone up. I expect lots of out-of-contract players will leave, and the club will have to make the difficult decision to move players along on big contracts, but that aside the ‘squad’ we have is League One primed and we should be trying to add to that with pace, height and athleticism across the board as we bid to have a proper go at winning this thing next season.
As much as I want to see the likes of Oviedo, Cattermole and McGeady stay, it’s hard to see how the club can continue to fund their pay packets. Some of the out of contract players - Ruiter and Matthews being the obvious two - need to leave. We can’t guarantee the likes of Robson, Embleton and Stryjek game-time and that means we might lose them, while players like Loovens (retiring?) and Donald Love have no real future at the club.
It’s going to be another big summer. After two terrible transfer windows our recruitment has to be absolutely spot on, all while trying to replace good players with cheaper alternatives.