Dear Roker Report,
Of course we’re disappointed. Who wouldn’t be? New committed owners, bright new manager, wonderful. Stadium, fantastic support and well rid of deadwood players. What could possibly go wrong?
But it hasn’t happened so now we need to apportion blame. The manager is the usual fall guy and there are already cries for his head to roll in true Sunderland tradition! But hang on - the poor lad hasn’t had even a full year in the job yet. He had to cobble a side together in a hurry before the season started with only few bob in his pocket. So it was the bargain basement market for him and to be truthful most even-handed supporters would accept that he has done a decent job. After all, we did reach a Cup Final and are in the play-offs so promotion is still well within our own hands.
So do we blame the players? Are they individually and collectively responsible for our relatively poor showing? Much has been said of their team spirit and their desire to commit fully to the Club. Are we asking too much of them because as Sunderland supporters we are desperate for success after years of despondency and humiliation?
But bearing in mind that most of these players have been discarded by their former clubs arriving here either on a free transfer or a very modest sum - other than the latest arrival of course.
Criticisms have been levelled at the manager for various deficiencies particularly in defence. We have three centre backs and to be honest there is not much between them. They do not have the benefit of Big Sam to coach them in defensive techniques or to buy into his mantra of stopping the opposition from scoring first and foremost. We all remember how successful that was with Kone and Kaboul playing behind Kirchhoff, but for alll that our goals against column isn’t all that bad.
But in fairness our defenders are often left exposed by the deficiencies in the middle of the park where, I believe, a lot of our problems arise. Thee are times when on a good day we will attack and defend as a team, particularly in the first half but when only one goal in front decide not to bother in the second half!
Taking a more considered view it could be said that our major failing is the sheer ineptitude of our so called strikers. Hence the totally unacceptable number of draws often against mediocre opposition. Consider this. If we had managed to score just five more goals this season to convert five draws into wins we would have gained TEN more points! Where would the critics be then?
In closing we would do well to remind ourselves of the dismal past two years in particular. This is very much a work in progress and perhaps we should share the blame for our over ambitious expectation levels. The season is not over yet!
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Can’t disagree with much of what you’ve said there. I think when people weigh the entire situation up, like you have, they’ll realise that it was always going to be a tough season. As you say it’s not over yet and it’s important we remember that.
It’s been a common theme on our letter pages in recent days but I think a lot of the gripes I have this season with the squad and certain results boils down to poor recruitment. We’ve not addressed the fact we are a slow, small team, nor have we bought defenders who are good enough to get into tough battles. But there’s nothing we can do about that right now, we have the squad we’ve got and they’ve got to be good enough to win the play-offs.
Regardless what league we are in next season we have to fix these glaring issues.
Dear Roker Report,
I’m amazed by the negativity displayed across the various SAFC-related websites. Such negativity, I might say, is not reflected in the opinions of any of the many fans that I know and/or work with.
We note that the current team was put together in quite a hurry and actually at very little cost (due to the constraints imposed by debts). It seems clear that many that we ended up with were far from our 1st choices and for some their clubs were only too happy to get them off their books.
Rather than the current hysteria, we reckon the team and the manager have performed about as well as could be expected. We have certainly been cheered by their efforts generally.
The playoffs may well be beyond them but who knows? Not going up this year may actually be a blessing in disguise - trying again next year with the benefit of a better pre-season and addition of one or two more key personnel (a powerful midfielder who can dominate the opposition please!) might even see use storm to top as Peter Reid’s men did after their play-off heart-break.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I agree that most people I’ve spoken with are pretty sound in their judgement - that we’ve not been good enough but that we’re still well-placed to progress in the play-offs. Perhaps Jack Ross will learn from this season? He certainly needs to have more control over the players that he signs. Rumour has it that it was the owner and not Ross that pushed to get Will Grigg over the line in January, for instance, and I just wonder how Ross might have spent the three million we sent Wigan’s way on other areas of the squad had it been made available to him. All ifs and buts.
You make valid, sensible points though. Perhaps more will view the situation in a similar vein once things settle down and the season is over. For now though I’m focused on going up - we can still do it and for as long as that is attainable I think I’m best off focusing my efforts on supporting the team in these absolutely massive games.
Our Play-Off and Wembley success rate is terrible but it has to change some time, surely...
Dear Roker Report,
It was slightly disappointing the way the season has petered out, saying that we have to be happy the position we have finished taking in to account the position we found our self in with the playing side we found ourselves desperately short In not only playing numbers but also quality in a very quick time playing and coaching side needed assessed then replacements needing sourced. Which doesn’t include the likes of Ndong and Papy.
Stewart Donald has particularly done an exceptional job considering the circumstances surrounding the club bringing everyone together and more important giving the supporters and the club back to the supporters.
I may put my head on the block and say the current quality of the squad may not be up to Championship standard and another season in League One may be better for the long term stability of the club and another transfer window should give Jack Ross the foundation to build his squad what do we need going forward?
Right back which has been a problem for a considerable few years although I like O’nien I don’t feel he’s a full back but has made the position his own due to lack of depth and through Adam Matthews injury issues.
Another centre back who could complement my favourite defender Flanagan we really need a uncompromising figure in the mould of Gary Bennett hopefully with an experienced head on his shoulders.
Left back as well has been a problem position. I would like to see both full backs with attacking potential in the role of Makin and Gray in years gone by.
I do see Maguire making the attacking midfield position his own next year but think that Max Power would be more suited to an advanced position and throw O’Nien into the mix.
There has been various tactical choices recently that everyone won’t agree with but with the restrictions that’s been placed on the club we have to say that it’s been a positive one and we have a foundation to build on and any interaction to myself is welcomed on social media when I get chance. Many supporters won’t agree with my views on the state of the club and will see what the next few weeks and months have in store.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: You aren’t the first person I’ve seen suggest that we might not be ready for the Championship. We may never know. All I will say is that regardless of what league we are in, this squad needs a load of surgery again to ensure that it’s competitive in the division we find ourselves in.
Obviously, it’s a lot easier to rebuild your side in League One but there are other important factors to consider, including that two of our best performing players in Cattermole and McGeady are high earners and if we stay in the third tier it’s likely the club will seek to move them on, regardless of their status in the side. Ultimately we are better off promoted than we are staying down here, that much is obvious, but if we don’t manage to do it then it’ll be interesting to see how the fanbase reacts collectively.
I think many fans have enjoyed League One, but will they enjoy another year of it?