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Fan Letters: “Is Charlie Methven trying to rally the Sunderland supporters by winding them up?”

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“I often wonder if Mr. Methven is trying to rally the fans by winding them up, almost as if he wants to see an agitation from us as we try to prove him wrong!” Email: RokerReport@yahoo.co.uk!

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-Off: Second Leg Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

On 3 May, Mr Methven was quoted in the press - “the fans have got a bit cumbersome because we’ve not won as many as we should have recently”. At the time the choice of language (cumbersome?) struck me as condescending, but hey ho let’s not be precious.

We then got these pearls of wisdom after Sunday’s match - “Ultimately Sunderland fans need to get realistic about that…” (being in League 1) “…Charlton have been in the Premier league for much of the last 20, 30 years and they had 40,000 to our 34,000. On sheer size of club it’s hard to say that Charlton should be the one who stay down”.

Oh dear. The Premiership has existed for 27 seasons. We’ve been in that league for a total of 16 seasons compared to Charlton’s 7 seasons. Our average home attendance this season was a record-breaking 32,000 compared with Charlton’s underwhelming average of less than 12,000. I believe it’s realistic to expect from Mr Methven some respect for the supporters, the club & the area. A good starting point might be for him to read up on our history.

On a positive note, I entirely agree with some of his other comments e.g. “Ultimately it was a tight game and we weren’t good enough… if you’re going to get promoted from divisions you’ve got to be better than other teams and I didn’t think we were better than them. They were’t much better than us but that’s not good enough.”

Hear hear and congratulations Charlton.

Re: the recent excellent podcast. For me Stewart Donald continues to be a class act, and I can’t recall such accessibility & candour from any other Chairman.

Bill Joyce (A real & realistic Sunderland Supporter)

Ed’s Note [Tom]: I do think our fans are a class act, and I do think we will continue to be so. This season we smashed the League One attendance record, and on average we had a fantastic showing in the vast majority of our home games - as you noted.

I often wonder if Mr. Methven is trying to rally the fans by winding them up, almost as if he wants to see an agitation from us as we try to prove him wrong. I’m not sure either way, but I am hopeful that the vast majority return for next season’s adventure in League One again with a fire in their bellies.

Durham Miners Association

Dear Roker Report,

It’s a no-brainer. Jack Ross should stay, of course.

Some people have very short memories - a year ago, many people, not just Mags and Smoggies, were, with good reason, tipping Sunderland to go straight down to Division 4/League 2.

The club was a mess, the dressing room was full of ‘players’ who didn’t want to play, nonentities who had been signed for exorbitant fees etc etc. We don’t need to go into it all again, Netflix have done it for us.

The coming of Stewart Donald, Charlie Methven and Jack Ross was a breath of fresh air. The progress that has been made over the last twelve months is incredible. Yes, the Wembley defeats were disappointing. Especially history repeating itself and losing to Charlton in a play-off final.

Let’s just hope that history can repeat itself again next year. Remember 1998-1999? Peter Reid’s team put the heartbreak of that Wembley defeat behind them and ran riot in Division 2 / The Championship. 107 points. Let that, or better, be next season’s target.

Finally, three snippets from Sunderland’s history:

1) It took Peter Reid, SAFC’s best manager of recent times, four years to get them into the Premier League and keep them there!

2) It took Alan Brown six years to get a team with Charlie Hurley, Jim Montgomery, Johnnie Crossan and Brian Clough promoted.

3) Since 1958, their first ever relegation, they have been relegated from the top flight eight times. It has never taken them more than six years to get back, That is still a possibility.

Keep the Faith - that’s what it means.

ps - forget the Checkatrade Trophy next year. That first Wembley defeat probably did massive damage to the team’s morale.

Mike Kay

Ed’s Note [Tom]: It’s a fair point to note that this season has seen some remarkable changes both on and off the pitch. It’s been great to celebrate victories once more, and behind the scenes it feels as though we are truly a different club.

This coming season will be a massive moment in the club’s history because we will all be aiming for an impressive campaign that reasserts the club as a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully the club do just as you suggest and go to town on the rest of League One.

Continuity could well be key, and Jack Ross has an entire summer to get the players and style of play he wants in his quest to find success. Hopefully we do just that!

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

To all those supporters who wish to see the back of our current manager, I’d say this.

Who was the last manager who was given more than a full season and pre-season to get our club on the right path to success?

Anything less than two full seasons at the club gives no one a chance. The number of people - not just at our club - who direct their (understandable) frustration at a lack of immediate success towards players, managers and those behind the scenes is unheard of in most businesses other than football.

At last I’d say Sunderland has turned a corner towards being a more unified club. The management team understand football. They get it. They have an ambitious young manager - recognised as one of the best in Scotland. Talent coming through the Academy. And a vastly different relationship towards the fan base than previous regimes.

For goodness sake give them a chance.

From the desperate position that the club was in at the end of last season, huge strides have been made. Sure, we’d all like miracles. An automatic promotion. Sweeping all before us in the tough, uncompromising league that is League One. (Remember almost every team wanted Sunderland’s ‘scalp’).

We also need to remind ourselves Jack Ross is new to this league. He will have learned much from the last twelve months. Any mistakes he has made he acknowledges freely. And he’s man enough to shoulder the responsibility.

Opting for someone else “more capable” is a misnomer. It’s been tried with David Moyes, Martin O’Neil, Simon Grayson and Chris Coleman to name but a few. And the craving for the ‘magic formula’ has proved expensive and hugely damaging to the club in the end. Finding the ‘right fit’ is not instant and too many times the pressure for change has won the day. If Sunderland want to return to the Premier League there must be a considered longer-term plan where the management holds its nerve, supporters continue to give the best support in the land, and the temptation for ‘knee-jerk’ decisions is resisted.

To attract investment, the club needs a solid future-proof plan where finances are balanced, a coherent strategy is in place and the right people are recruited. Right now the club seems part-way there. The target of finishing in the top six in League One was achieved. And an immediate return to the Championship was tantalisingly close. In my view, yes, the season was massively disappointing in its outcome. But it was by no means an outright failure. We all wear our heart on our sleeve at times - and so do the players (for once). Look at the reaction of Luke O’Nien at the final whistle in the play-off final. For all their shortcomings, would you rather have a team of has-beens and expensive ‘journeymen’?

Jack Ross and the management team need to stay. The club needs to continue to build and dissenting voices should reflect on the alternatives they are proposing.

It’s time to use the progress made over the past twelve months as a foundation for success in 2019-2020 and beyond!

Steve Hopper

Supporter since 1963. (As patient and desperate for success as they come!)

Ed’s Note [Tom]: “Opting for someone else “more capable” is a misnomer. It’s been tried with David Moyes, Martin O’Neil, Simon Grayson and Chris Coleman to name but a few. And the craving for the ‘magic formula’ has proved expensive and hugely damaging to the club in the end. Finding the ‘right fit’ is not instant and too many times the pressure for change has won the day.”

This piece in particular was spot-on! Well said, mate.

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

Dear Roker Report,

Disappointing end to the season with a large portion of fans wanting to replace Ross as manager. My concern with this is who would we be realistically able to get as a replacement who would be better than Ross?

Unless someone markedly better is available, surely the benefit of continuity and building a squad in Ross’s image is better than the cost of overhauling a squad who won 85 points in a season.

Luke Ryan

Ed’s Note [Tom]: I think it’s fair to say, Luke, that Ross has has a tricky season, but the mark of a great manager would be his ability to analyse where he went wrong, adjust personnel and approach, and come back stronger.

If we don’t allow him that opportunity, then we’ll never know the true makings of the man and whether he truly is a cracking young manager.