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Fan Letters: “Unwillingness to accept blame for failure!” - Sunderland fan Alan not convinced...

“I know I’ll be slagged off for being so negative but I think we have peaked. I think we have a bunch of small businessmen who are simply not big enough for our club” writes RR reader Alan Fenwick. Email us:!

Chronicle Live

Dear Roker Report,

For no particular reason I binged watched the mocumentary “The Office” last week. That’s the first time for about 18 years. Coincidentally this weekend I then got around to listening to your post Play off final podcast.

The similarity between Stewart Donald and David Brent is incredible. The same accent, the same tendency to talk in clichés, the unwillingness to accept blame for failure, the wind-bagging i.e. the ability to talk a lot but say nowt. Go and listen to Ricky Gervais as Brent and then our man: it’s spooky.

The question that always lingered with regard to David Brent was ‘ How on earth did he get the job?’ And secondly, ‘How did he keep a job where he was so much out of his depth?’ I know I’ll be slagged off for being so negative but I think we have peaked. I think we have a bunch of small businessmen who are simply not big enough for our club.

OMG I’m depressed.

Alan Fenwick

Ed’s Note [Damian]: Oof. Well I have to say that while I empathise somewhat with your downheartedness considering all that’s been and gone in the last few years, I think you’re way off the mark judging Stewart Donald’s character.

I can only speak for myself and my own impressions of the man but I think if you listen to his responses on the Roker Rapport Podcast he does his level best to give solid, fleshed-out answers to some - let’s face it - uncomfortable questions.

It’s easy to forget that this gentleman is the owner of the club we hold so dear and, for all that we feel we’re owed transparency and explanation, he doesn’t have to give it. His commitment to engaging with us as fans and elaborating on his designs, and explaining the reasoning behind big-money business decisions, is something that we shouldn’t take for granted, but perhaps more importantly it’s an indicator of just how on form the man is as the Sunderland owner.

You call them small businessmen - I understand your meaning in that they aren’t the billionaires every fan wants bankrolling their transfer window, but I think there’s an affability to the man that would always be missing from someone like, for example, Ellis Short. And that’s a good thing. Stewart Donald has been a key factor in the renewal of the bond between club and fan, and I don’t think we can take that for granted.

Equally I don’t believe there’s much blame that can be laid at his feet anyway. It’s not as if he’s been popping his head into the dressing room and demanding they change formation - it seems to me that there’s far more to thank him for than to blame him for.

Beyond that there’s plenty to look forward to in terms of investment going forward, and that too is something we can thank the new owners for. Perhaps what we really needed was more of a “small businessman” personality than yet another absentee billionaire?

You’re absolutely correct that he sounds like David Brent though.

Spitting image

Dear Roker Report,

I’ve been watching Sunderland for 40 years and been to about 2/3 of the clubs in the country away from home since the 80’s. I saw nearly every game last season and I’m about 51% that Jack Ross should stay.

Although I accept he had some challenges moulding a team from the start of the season there were some consistently glaring errors, for whatever reason Will Grigg hasn’t shown up this season and when we needed an outlet up front to either play alongside Wyke or to inject some pace he would overlook Sterling who looked fast and direct every time he played, why didn’t he even make it to the bench some games?

I accept Honeyman might be a canny lad but what does he bring to the team? I cant remember him marshalling the troops or linking play between midfield and attack, opposition teams must love seeing him playing because he never causes them any problems, he runs around.. the end.

Whilst I think O’Nien is a good full back he’d have been a much better option in the 10 role with Matthews at RB. when we needed to see games out or be more of an attacking threat we were lacking and this for me is the reason why.

We do need to add some physically stronger and more mobile players to the ranks but for me Ross failed to address these issues consistently all season. Although I think we will have changes his lack of foresight in these pretty basic things gives me concern.

Hopefully he will have learned from last season and we wont see more of the same. I’m all for sticking with managers, but the right manager.

Dave Holmes

Ed’s Note [Damian]: Well Dave I agree on some points and disagree on others. As it happens I’m not the biggest fan of Jack Ross’s tactics this season and I too would question some of his selection decisions, particularly his desire to stick with Wyke and merely hope it all pans out for the best.

I don’t understand his substitutions and I don’t understand why the team plays so conservatively, seemingly at his behest. However, I’m not a manager and I’m at least partly confident that there is method to what some of us see as madness.

In terms of whether or not Ross is the man to take us forward - I’d have to concur with the general consensus that given a fair shot at a follow-on season with an improved transfer budget and a slightly more stable infrastructure in place, Jack Ross certainly has the opportunity to do good things and remedy our plight at the second time of asking.

There were challenges in these early days of his tenure - some that might have been averted, perhaps - and I think it would be unfair to move him on before he’s had that chance.

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