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Fan Letters: “Sunderland need to bring more kids through - we’ve got nothing to lose!”

RR reader Raymond Nicholls wants to see Sunderland prioritise youth development next season and thinks that we have nothing to lose in that regard. What do you think? Email:!

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Atmosphere at the SOL is utter rubbish. Every home game we’re out song by away fans. On Sunday Charlton fans were bouncing up and down while we just stood there singing the same old songs.

I’ve been a SAFC supporter since the age of 4. I’ve had a season ticket at SOL since we moved there (same seat) and Roker Park before that.

We have no Roar anymore. We have fair-weather supporters who come to be entertained like going to the theatre, not a football game.

I really fear for my beloved club even after all that’s been done by the current owners. What’s going on up the road at the moment adds insult to injury as well.

John Smith

Ed’s Note [Gav]: Charlton fans had drummers conducting their chanting so it all sounded in time and in tune. There’s just no appetite from Sunderland supporters to allow drumming/orchestrated chanting at our games to improve the atmosphere, and unless we play catch up with just about every other club in regards to how we can improve our atmosphere at games then it’ll remain the same and perhaps even regress further.

I still enjoyed the day though and thought that the atmosphere was canny, just nowhere near as well organised as Charlton’s.

Charlton Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off Final Photo by James Chance/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I can remember when we were sent down to the old third division - the team then unlike now were fighters, we went straight back up.

This team couldn’t fight to save there lives, it’s about time we start to bring the kids through. Work on them in preseason - we might not go up but they would be more than ready for the next season. We have nothing to lose.

Raymond Nicholls

Ed’s Note [Gav]: We’ve got plenty to lose. Failing to go up next season would be catastrophic. This club still isn’t self-sufficient and we need the added revenue that comes with playing higher up the leagues. I agree that we need to bring more young players through, but only the ones that are ready.

Elliot Embleton went to Grimsby last season and proved he’s good enough to be playing men’s football, so he needs to be part of our first team next season. Beyond him I’m just not sure any of them are ready or good enough yet - instead, the club need to focus on buying the right kind of players that can get this team promoted.

We lack height, pace and power right through the spine of the side and signing players who can make Sunderland a more robust and athletic unit will, in my opinion, be a defining factor in whether we win the league or not.

Action Plus via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Now that our season is over, it is time to begin the inquest. I feel it would be the right decision to keep Jack Ross on as manager next season. I agree that “stability” or our manager merry go round in recent years not is enough to save any manager whoever they are from the sack if they truly warrant it. However I would see it as a wrong move.

We suffered back to back relegations. We had players on Premier League wages. Djilibodji and N’Dong were AWOL on big money. As Sky Sports have documented a million times, we had to ask our medical staff to join in training, Lee Cattermole wondered how on Earth we’d compete at the right end of the league on the back of this. Nineteen players made their debuts this season, an incredible turnaround in players. We went from a side that lost 49 league games in two seasons, to one that lost 5 all year. We went from a side that had won six home games in two seasons to one that lost one this campaign. We recovered more points than anyone else from a losing position in the league.

I don’t live with my head in the sand (all the time!). Of course we had a bigger budget (and bigger pressure I might add) and stated that promotion was our aim at the start of the season so in that respect, the word failure is appropriate. We have drawn far too many games clearly and haven’t seized the big moments in our season. However, I think some failures are more explainable and justifiable than others. Given the backdrop of this season, I’m inclined to think that behind the PR success in the summer, behind the scenes we had no idea how far up the creek without a paddle we actually were. It is important to remember that Ross was not the architect of our demise into League One, to use phrases such as overseeing the worst finish in our history is awfully unfair, as anything other than the league title would have rendered this true. In addition, for all our problems let’s not forget we accumulated 85pts, a decent amount in amongst what was a very even top 5 (as demonstrated by head to head records).

Thus Ross deserves praise for stopping the rot at the centre of the club and in my opinion is the right man to take us forward.

Louis Dinsdale

Ed’s Note [Gav]: I still don’t feel totally calm after Sunday’s game so I might not be thinking clearly yet, but my view on Ross is this - we can make all the excuses we like, ultimately he failed in his task to get us promoted. Whether that’s a sackable offence I have no idea, but what I do know is that at some point we have to gamble on a manager and place faith in their ability to build something. I’m sceptical regarding whether Ross is the man to do it, but I think he needs to be given the summer window to re-shape the squad.

He has to accept his style needs to change, though. We have played some turgid football since Josh Maja left, rely on individual quality to get us through games, and have a completely unbalanced squad.

Serious work is needed to be done in order to ensure we walk this division next season - and if Ross can’t get off to a good start then I think that is when I may start questioning his position. The pressure is on and he has to start showing why he deserves to be our manager quickly, because after the shambles that was our end to the season a lot of the good grace he had with supporters is now gone.

Charlton Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off Final Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I just wanted to write a piece about how this football club has affected my life, because they deserve it.

No matter what regime we have been under, we have always had our club to look to. Whether it’s for a way to socialise with mates, a distraction from life or anything else, Sunderland AFC has always been there for us.

When I was little, I had numerous health issues, both physically and mentally. By the time I was seven, I’d had 12 operations, struggled to deal with bullying and a broken home. I was even stopped from trying to kill myself. It was a dark place and I have no issues acknowledging that, as it is part of who I am today.

But I digress, throughout this trauma, I always had Sunderland AFC. I’ll always remember being in a ward at the RVI in Newcastle, with my room being opposite the Matron’s room. A person who’s room which happened to be plastered with Newcastle badges. Yet even deep into Newcastle, I kept a Sunderland AFC towel on my door, brought in shirts and blankets. That badge worked as a distraction for all that was going on both with and around me.

So I just thought I’d write this to share my story and to thank those that have been at our football club over the years (Rodwell aside).


Ed’s Note [Gav]: It’s great to hear you came out of the other side well marra, and perhaps it’s a reminder that there are sometimes more important things than results on the pitch when it comes to football. Sunderland are my life too, this club dominates my every thought - I’m just absolutely desperate for some success after years of being let down, but life goes on and we’ll still be here long after any player, manager or owner.

Eventually the good times will return and when they do it’ll all feel much sweeter having been through such a hard time.

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

The season is done. The inquest begins. The surgeons with sharpened pens dissect and remove the parts of a campaign that has ended in failure. Two months await for the blood to be mopped away, for the ins and outs, for July to turn to August. For the optimism to return.

Have I enjoyed this season? Yes. It has brought me closer to the club, probably as close as I felt when standing in the Roker End as a young lad in the ‘70’s.

Some time ago I nearly lost my life. I had to rebuild myself mentally, for my illness is long term mental health issues. I had to go back to the start. To identify the demons, deal with them rationally, get outside help from experts. I made the decision that my life was worth keeping, not mine for taking. For me and my family.

The last year I have seen the club identify its demons. Of debt, overpaid mercenaries, pink seats, apathetic supporters, disconnection with those in charge, no identity to community.

Progress and failure are measured by many events. As I’m writing this I’m still gutted and frustrated that we didn’t achieve promotion. It was the aim. We failed. Then again to achieve an overall aim there can be much work required on individual objectives to make the aim achievable and, most importantly, sustainable.

I’m looking forward to the summer, for the breather. Will I be back come August? Yes. Because as the saying goes I’m Sunderland - ‘til I die.

Keep the faith.

Ian Clavering

Ed’s Note [Gav]: Nice words. I’m also looking forward to a break - it’s been a hell of a slog and mentally it has been tiring. We need to feel excited about our football again!

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