Dear Roker Report,
The recent set of fan letters all seemed to lobby for positivity and a silver lining. I can respect that and appreciate it as a requirement to kick on. However let’s not ignore that this season is totally unacceptable at present.
Despite the bald truth, I still find myself holding onto the illusion that Sunderland are a top level club going through a rough patch. Unfortunately, failing to secure automatic promotion in the 3rd division is evidence that we are a low level club who punched above our weight for awhile.
Let’s not kid ourselves that we are not struggling among strugglers. That “cup final” was for first among premier rejects. It’s like cheering that Johnny’s going to Cambridge because he won his 1st grade spelling bee. Oh wait, he got 2nd because he can’t spell defense (or defence? Anyway not the point...)
Thanks Sunderland. I know you only do it because you love me. Um, but you raised the international streaming fee this year and my silver lining is I didn’t pay you to kick my hope in the bollocks this time round.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Historically this club is ‘top level’. Six league titles, two FA Cups and some of the biggest crowds in world football - the stadium, infrastructure and training facilities suggest that this is a football club who, if ran properly, could and should be amongst the twenty elite clubs in England.
That said, all of that means very little when it comes down to results on the pitch. Leeds United and Nottingham Forest haven’t played top level football in many years now but have all the history you’d expect of a club competing in the Premier League.
Ultimately we’re where we are because right now that’s where we deserve to be. I actually think that it was unreasonable to expect Sunderland to walk away with the league when you consider the sheer amount of upheaval we’ve seen. Yet, despite that, we have another chance to ensure we go up through the play-offs.
This isn’t Sunderland’s destiny though. We’re not going to be a third or even second tier club forever - eventually, one day our time will come again and we can only hope that next time we are a top flight club we’ll go into it full of knowledge from our last taste of it, of how not to run a Premier League club.
Dear Roker Report,
Is Mr Donald really committed to taking this club forward or is he happy with lower division mediocrity? If it is the latter, which to me is what it appears to be, I very much doubt the supporters will go along with him.
The play offs is not an acceptable finishing position in league one for a club the size of Sunderland. Promotion should have been secured weeks ago. If the players aren’t good enough who’s fault is that. Should we be asking questions of the management at all levels?
On the field this season there have been far too many games thrown away to late goals, this is surely not acceptable. We just can’t be satisfied with the outcome of this season.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I’m not really sure how you can suggest the owner is happy to be in the third tier. Mistakes have been made and people are right to point to them but to suggest there’s no ambition is obscene. Throwing silly money at signing one of League One’s top scorers from recent years on deadline day was the act of someone desperately trying to ensure his club were equipped with enough quality players for the final run of the season. Granted, that particular signing hasn’t worked out thus far but that’s not really the fault of the owner.
Until all is said and done I see little merit in trying to point the finger of blame at anyone. The fact is that right now we can still get promoted. If we do then fantastic, if we don’t then questions will be asked.
You’re right to point out that we should have been secured weeks ago, that the players perhaps haven’t been good enough, and that on the pitch we’ve thrown away too many points - but those are not necessarily the fault of the owner, surely?
Ultimately, Jack Ross has been equipped with a squad full of talented and experienced players. The results on the pitch come down to the players and the management team, good or bad.
But, like I say, I don’t see any merit in stripping it all back right now. Let’s try and finish the season with a play-off win first, eh?