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Roker Roundtable: How do you feel about Stewart Donald’s comments on Sunderland’s situation?

Earlier this week Sunderland owner Stewart Donald took to Twitter to give fans an update on our transfer and ownership situation. What did you make of what he had to say?

Sunderland AFC

Q: What did you make of Stewart Donald’s comments regarding transfer incomings and the ownership situation on Twitter this week? Did they make you feel calmer about the current situation, or otherwise?

Craig Davies says...

When Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven arrived they were wily enough to observe that the distance between fan and owner was a cavernous ravine so wide, its lengthening distance could wrap around the earth twice.

Cleverly, they seized on that adverse bitterness and - as master craftsmen with PHD’s in sophisticated public-relations, marketing and crowd manipulation as well as professorships in reassurance and ego-massaging - they’ve soothed, calmed, excited and energised Sunderland supporters like the shrewd professional marketeers they are.

There are those among us who flatly believe they’re snaky and insidious, out for a quick profit and taking advantage of our recent history of failure, by promising a desperate faithful that all will be well.

I’ve got dear friends in this camp. No matter what they do, Donald and Methven will not convince this group of their commitment to the club. With yet another summer of flatlining ambitions amongst the confusion of takeovers and financial disorientation, the loud minority of Donald haters will feel satisfied in their assumptions.

Donald himself claims that our seas are calm, our worries are unfounded and that our anxiety should be replaced with tranquility. ‘Takeover shmakeover,’ he decries. Potential new owners? ‘No big deal!’ he declares. ‘All is rosy in our garden,’ is his mantra.

So in the spirit of unity I’m gonna stick my neck on the chopping block. I can’t believe that Donald’s sole ambition is to suck the club dry. I’m not saying that all of his intentions are angelic but I have faith he wouldn’t coldly leave us high and dry.

So, I’m not overly worried about a lack of transfer activity just yet.

Jack Ross has only just returned to his desk after a needed break from the madness and consequently I now expect to see motion and progress. Many of the big hitters we can attract are still available, and no gigantic League One business has taken place.

I’m still confident that we can attract the quality we need to push on. Donald himself claims we need 6-8 players to ensure we develop and he’s about right. The key for us this summer is outing a few big earners, to bring in the faces we need and this must begin in earnest.

So for the next week or two I’ll stay calm, Mr. Donald. I’ll allow you to feather my cap and to plump my pillow. I’ll remain supportive. But even for those in your corner, time is ticking - and the tick is getting louder and louder as each day of little movement progresses.

Damian Brown says...

It sounded like a load of old cobblers to me, personally.

What concerns me more than the glaring lack of progress in the transfer market so far is the casual, almost dismissive way in which the owner has chosen to shrug off the suggestion that there could be cause for concern.

In many ways Stewart Donald has fashioned a rod for his own back in this situation, because in the wake of his zeal to be seen as transparent is a void that now won’t be filled without absolute clarity. Fans have come to expect it because it’s been the owners key selling point in engaging with them.

Trouble being clarity is something few Sunderland fans have had the luxury of, though it isn’t a pipe dream; many fans of other clubs are at least vaguely aware of the club’s intentions in any given transfer window. Targets are generally identified with relative ease and, while that doesn’t mean there won’t be surprises or hiccups in the pursuit of a signature, most people know what they’re in for as the direct debit for season tickets leaves their accounts.

Beyond the contradictions made, my chief concern - which I share with many - is that the repercussions of a transfer window we’re ill-prepared for are serious. No one has done anything to assuage my fear that we’re ill-prepared, and words are just words.

I don’t want another Grigg situation and I’m sure Stewart Donald doesn’t either, but some indication that there is purpose and preparation in the recruitment teams dealings of late is critical, and shrugging your shoulders and saying “it’ll be fine, chill” isn’t emboldening me with confidence that it actually will be.

Jack Ford says...

For me, I found myself focusing more on the contradictions I saw in Donald’s comments, and the fact that what I read doesn’t really ring true with what I’m seeing. Or rather, what I’m not seeing from the club.

For Donald to say that we shouldn’t worry because we came 5th and need 10 more points doesn’t really gel with him then stating what many of us already know - that we need around 6-8 first team signings to push on.

That’s practically a new first team, and not only does that take considerable time and effort in simply securing the services of those players, it then takes considerable time to let the new players bed in and gel with the rest of the team. These are lessons we should have learned last season but seemingly have completely ignored.

However, I highly doubt we have actually ignored this clear fact. Rather, I think Donald, Methven, and co are sensible people that understand this most basic of business and footballing truths. Instead, I think unlike the line put out by the regime, takeover talks are clearly impacting our transfer business.

New investment and shareholdings wouldn’t only impact our budget, but our wage structure, and perhaps most importantly the extent to which the current owners are “putting their money where their mouths are” when it comes to signings. If Donald is to benefit from a smaller share of financial benefits footballing success will bring the club this season, why would he help fund transfer spend with a majority share? Any businessman worth his salt would refuse to do this.

That the club then decided to bizarrely publish a list of transfer news, all of which to do with our reported targets being signed by rivals, is mind-boggling to me. Was this meant to calm us down? Even the headline “Ross given green light” was not the words of the club, but of the Sunderland Echo. What exactly was this meant to achieve?

For me, it is clear that takeover talks are once again resulting in us having a rushed, truncated transfer window. Not only this, but the lack of pre-season fixtures is horribly reminiscent of Short-Era Sunderland, and a sign that pre-season preparation as a whole haven’t been given priority.

Jack Ross has a hell of a lot to prove this season, with a lot of fans already on his back, and given our tough early fixtures I think he’s not exactly being given the best chance of building and training a team to burst out of the blocks.

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