Dear Roker Report,
I am feeling much more relaxed about the season ahead. Where little has changed in terms of players at the club, the owners have sensibly halted take over talks and trash talking on social media allowing the club to be best prepared in preseason.
Some more big earners have left the club, and Some decent free signings brought in for league one level means the finances are being brought into order and Sunderland are sure to be competing at the top end of the table.
Having watched the friendly at South Shields and seen almost all of the squad in action I think we have a decent squad for the level we are at.
The only area of slight concern for me is up top. Wyke and Grigg didn’t do enough for me in the South Shields game so it worries me a little that they can do it in league 1.
I think we need another striker in, hopefully with some pace and who can finish. But whether or not we get this Sunderland will definitely be in the promotion mix.
Haway the lads!
Ed’s Note [Damian]: I’m in complete agreement Friar - you don’t mind if I call you Friar, do you? - our striker complement is sorely lacking. I’ve had this discussion with a few of my colleagues at Roker Report and with supporters in general and it surprises me that so many are prepared to believe that Grigg and Wyke falling short last season can be laid solely at the feet of Jack Ross and his tactics. Of course, that’s going to directly contribute to their goal return (or lack thereof) but good strikers score goals against the odds. That isn’t to say that Ross can’t find a system that suits both players equally, but I’d still feel far more comfortable knowing that we’re not simply expecting a hail Mary when Plan A doesn’t work out. We need to bring in a strong, quick striker, there’s no denying that for me.
Dear Roker Report,
In reply to Gav’s response to a letter by Malcom Dobinson.
He states, ”Ross has a lot to prove.”
This is the guy who came to our club last pre season (in preference to Ipswich Town) when the club was in disarray and morale at an all time low, with a good part of the squad not wanting to be here, even though they were party to abject performances by the team the previous season.
Jack Ross slowly and diligently assembled a team, and galvanised the club ready for the start of the new season.
The squad, although not perfect was good enough to take us to Wembley twice, which we all would have gleefully accepted before a ball was kicked.
The Josh Maja situation should have been addressed long before he came to the club,and he can’t be held to task for that.
In answer to his critics who said we were a negative and a defensive side, and not very good to boot, how good does that make him to take a team to within one kick of promotion.
You also say “he needs to start the season well” (See Pompey last season !!!)
You also state “if he’s not capable of that, I don’t expect him to last very long”.
Can you please qualify when he will or will not look capable?
Remember it’s not how you start the season, it’s how you finish it (See Charlton Athletic!)
Get off Jack Ross’s back, and let him manage.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I’m not really on the fella’s back, in fact I said that I support him and that I don’t think the calls to have him sacked were the right ones.
I just believe that unless we start the season well - i.e. with us outside of the top four after, say, 10 games - he will find himself out of a job.
If there’s any indication that we aren’t going to be capable of getting ourselves out of the league this season then he’ll be gone, because that’s just what happens.
Dear Roker Report,
Sorry Ed, we have being saying this for years for the kids to step up. I don’t think this will happen - Ross will be too scared to take that chance in case he fails, thus to lose his job.
How come other teams in our situation play their youngsters? And how many other teams have youngsters coming through? All we seem to do is farm them out to learn their trade but they all end up in lower divisions, so how are they going to benefit us in coming years if we get into a higher league and they have been playing in the lower leagues? It makes no sense. Blood them now in our team!
No wonder our academy players are reluctant to sign contracts.
We are in the third tier, for gods sake!
Ed’s Note [Damian]: In his most recent statements Jack Ross claimed to be giving the youngsters a chance this season, so going off that alone I’d say you’ve no need to worry. Whether you choose to take those statements as gospel or if you think it’s a way to deflect from the waning of influx into the team, that’s up to you. He maintains we’re still bringing in players so I suppose there’s nothing left to do but take him at his word and presume he’ll do precisely as you desire - blood the youngsters while he’s got a chance.
Worth remembering at the same time that although we’d got some old heads in the squad, it’s actually quite youthful. There aren’t many more ways to publicly set your stall out when you’re making an academy product captain for two consecutive seasons (in spite of his detractors). I think we’ll see a lot of the likes of Elliot Embleton and Denver Hume, and Benji Kimpioka. Ross also noted that Bali Mumba will be spending some more time with U23’s, and I think this coupled with his previous statements suggests that he’s gone through the youth ranks with a fine-toothed comb, assessing the players and their aptitude for the upcoming season. It’s what I would do if I have very little money to work with and top-class academy facilities, and I’m quite sure Jack Ross is a much wiser man than I.