Dear Roker Report,
I agree to the feeling that young players like Robson, Embleton, Mumba, Kimpioka and Hume needs to be involved next season.
In my opinion I doesn’t matter if we get promoted next season or the following, the important thing is that when we do we must be ready for the Championship and the youngsters mentioned above will do no worse than Sterling, Morgan or Dunne, who didn’t impress me much.
Spend some serious money if there is any on a couple of experienced central defenders, a physical playmaker and give the young players a chance!
Steve the Swede
Ed’s Note [Gav]: As I said in reply to the email you’re referring to, I’m all for youth development and bringing these lads into the fold - but only if they’re ready.
Are Mumba and Kimpioka ready? Hmm... having watched them both at least a dozen times this season (mostly for the U23s) I’d have to say no, they are not. They’re both incredibly young and at this stage of their careers they should be going out on loan to another club further down the pyramid who can guarantee them first team games which will teach them a lot more than being thrown in at a higher level where they aren’t comfortable or able to make an impact on games like they might be able to in League Two or the National League.
Robson has played a fair amount of football in a struggling side at Dundee but has fared quite well, and Embleton is loved down at Grimsby, which bodes well for his future. I’d say those two lads are more ready to make an impact and should be involved in the first team squad next season.
Denver Hume has already proven himself and, for me, he needs to be first choice at left back next season. He’s better than Reece James and Bryan Oviedo is likely to leave, so it just makes sense that we’d get behind this lad.
Dear Roker Report,
In my lifetime as a Sunderland supporter since 1965 (I emphasise supporter, because it’s my support I give. There is no consumer choice to my loyalty) we have won and lost, succeeded and failed, on average every other season.
To the best of my recollection there have been 26 significant seasons which included finals, play offs, relegations and promotions.
To say life has been interesting is an understatement, and after each season, victory or defeat we always have hope and belief we will go again.
I know people will say but it’s different this time, but believe me they said that every time and with that experience I look forward to next season and assess what we need to kick on, not look back and say if maybe, could of and should of.
The main areas I focus on are:
1. The Running of the club
2. The Culture
3. The first team and overall football philosophy
From my vantage point, the club has been stabilised and the sound bites are positive. An area for improvement will be the ticketing experience, the staff are very helpful but have been deluged by the burden of demand and thus a better resourced department would improve the supporter impression and ultimately retain more support.
Culturally it’s been a major shift from the previous incumbents, I feel it’s real again and look forward to the experience. Room for improvement on attracting the supporters of the future, we are not in a strong position in terms of the popular vote, so ensuring we do all we can is a must.
The first team - our season was defined by two shots on a Wembley goal but overall this group of players dealt with an expectation and challenge which was greater than their collective skills and experience should have withheld.
We are a premier league standard business, with premier league facilities, premier league support and premier league history which carries a premier league expectation but the squad is not a premier league squad and that imbalance in some people’s minds creates in my opinion a blind spot, because we are Sunderland we should be beating sides in this league. We forget most of our players are first division players and have no divine right to win.
The fact they stood up to a season of cup ties and we got so close is testament to their fortitude. However next season we need to learn and improve and if we are to get promotion we need to inject power and pace in key areas - two centre halves, and four midfield/strikers who can compete both physically and move with a purpose that puts opponents on the back foot.
Formations and tactics will shape the games but the ability to affect moments will win us games and next season we need game changers, add this to the experience we have and we will have a great season. Typing this has been quite cathartic for me and has also been quite calming.
I will be there next season as I have been since Dick Malone’s debut and I will have hope once again we can have a successful season.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I definitely have got the feeling from writing the replies to these Fan Letters articles over the last few days that there’s been a realisation of our situation from supporters, perhaps compounded having listened to our Podcast with Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven yesterday where a lot of questions were answered and clarity was brought to the current state of play.
We all need a break. This season has been a slog. 61 games, two cup finals and the emotional torture of not being good enough has taken it’s toll. I’ve accepted now that we’ve got to pick our chins up off the floor and get on with it.
Be positive, improve and hopefully win the league next season. If we can do that then I have no doubt that we’ll eventually look back on this period of change and settlement and accept it was necessary for us to reach this point in our journey - I firmly believe that.
Dear Roker Report,
Sunderland need to remain calm following the huge downer of the Wembley result.
True, the deficiencies of the present squad stood out clearly in what was a very poor performance. What I am writing here is all pretty obvious and my conclusions will be repeated by many others.
The lack of effective pacey wingers to use the wide open Wembley spaces on the flanks, Oviedo so quiet, the way he, Maguire and Morgan were dominated by the Charlton defence. Flanagan’s total lack of confidence on the ball. He looks terrified in possession.
The hard worked often effective inter passing that is typical of the Sunderland midfield took us nowhere except into cul de sacs.
Wyke was so tightly controlled by the Charlton centre backs and when he did get away it was followed by the referee’s whistle.
It was frankly a dismal uninspiring performance. Possibly one of our worst of the season.
Whether the best team for the job at hand was selected is a matter of conjecture but I cannot see that Jack Ross had many alternatives available.
Maybe Gooch could have been an improvement on Morgan who has totally flattered to deceive all season? The hard working Honeyman was just not enough! How come Watmore was not on the bench - he would have been ideally suited to Wembley?
We clearly need to add a batch of new players if only to inspire us for next season. Central defenders are the highest priority. Two at least. If nothing else to add sheer muscle and strength. Most important of all a couple of really pacey attacking midfielders.
I fear that for all his brilliance it might be asking a lot of McGeady to have such a brilliant season next time. Maguire has his good points but is Mr inconsistent and is certainly no McGeady. We need someone else to see to dead ball situations. Take Leadbitter away and we have no one for corners and free kicks other than McGeady, and for the latter only - his corners are awful!
I am hoping that a fully fit Wyke and Grigg can still do the business up front. They certainly have the reputation to do so but we still need a pacey alternative at hand. Oh for a Vardy!
I worry that we might get a negative reaction at the start of next season when we really need to start winning immediately. That is why we should freshen things up.
Jack Ross has done a great job and he almost saw us promoted. He needs to be given time and resources. It is however not enough to put together a team for promotion, he needs to be looking further forward and if we are then to progress in the Championship we will need a stronger more physical more pacey more clinical finishing team.
Rome truly was not built in a day.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Good assessment Tony and your thoughts are echoed throughout our letter pages over the last few days by likeminded folk who are trying to see the best in this bad situation. What we do know is that we have to focus every effort on fixing whatever wasn’t working during 2018/19.
Say what you like about Charlie Methven, but he sounds very driven to put things right over the next twelve months to ensure we get to the Championship. As does Stewart Donald, who was audibly gutted by the fact he wasn’t able to take us up at the first attempt.