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Fan Letters: “Are the expectations of the Sunderland supporters too high re: the takeover?”

With big-money investors poised to take over at Sunderland, RR reader Michael wonders how long it will be before the fans clamour for fast results. Have your say - email us at!

Dear Roker Report,

We are on the cusp of something more exciting than anything else that we have seen before. The forthcoming change of ownership will bring many changes of both direction and people.

Following on from a point that has previously been raised, I would like to ask this: in the next few transfer windows what will be the best policy to take?

In January for example do we bring in two players that are hopefully good enough to start in the Championship? Then, possibly the hardest one of all, do we bring in players that will help enable the team to hold its own and bring stability so we don’t come crumbling back down? Or do we get staff in to mount a promotion push to the Premier League ASAP? The problem we could have is which player will come to us knowing that probably it will be a short term project?

Once or if we should make it to the PL we are surely to spend modestly and replace players who have helped us along the way. Either way we are likely to have a high turnover of players in and out at the various stages, our project will be positioned.

I fully agree with the point raised about who will be the best man to lead different groups of players and continue to improve our side. The answer would be big Sam, without any doubt. That could turn out to be the first and most important acquisition we are to make under our new ownership.

It’s a tough decision but one that will be needed to make our mark. I’ve got nothing against Jack Ross and his staff but I do think it is job done at this point.

Michael Farn

Ed’s Note [Damian]: It feels a bit like counting chickens before the eggs have hatched my friend but we should dare to dream, I think.

Realistically (speculatively) you would think there’s little to gain from signing anyone below Championship standard, not only assuming we gain promotion but also in our current circumstances as a big fish in a small pond. Regardless of this particular takeover it’s worth noting that this was always the essential plan behind Stewart Donald’s purchase of the club and the manner in which business has been conducted by Charlie Methven: streamline the club, cut non-essential expenditure and invest wisely in the squad. For myself I think they’ve managed it pretty flawlessly, albeit with the latter being a matter of perspective. Purchasing short-term fixes to patch up problems is something we’ve blessedly moved away from and hopefully won’t see again for many years, if ever.

With that in mind I believe there are already irons in the fire and all that’s missing is the relative safety of promotion and the stable financial situation that the owners have been building towards. When we do get back to the Championship I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see money spent and spent well. You’re never going to have a spotless transfer window and some will fall by the way side but for the most part I think we can look forward to shrew, forward-thinking recruitment when the coffers are swelling and the distant lights of the Premier League beckon once again.

As for the manager to lead us there I’m not convinced that Jack Ross has yet found his limit. While he isn’t exactly oozing success his style of management has seen a determined, if slow, march forward. I don’t think there’s anything negative about his methods that can’t be changed or won’t simply fade with time, in the Sunderland dugout and as a manager in the game. I’ma huge fan of Sam Allardyce and I’d probably bite your hand off to get him back for what promises to be an exciting campaign, but if it came to that I’d feel that moving Ross on was a necessary evil and not something I’d do without reluctance. I hope he continues to receive support from his employers until such a time as his position is untenable - a time I hope doesn’t come.

Burnley v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

In the absence of a League game, column inches still to fill but somewhat concerned about the expectation levels being built up by the NE media by the expected takeover. Will fans become unsettled/curious/suspicious even if they don’t see any immediate positive effect? Surely this is only the first step in a long term strategy and we need to be patient in allowing gradual, whilst clearly upward, progression.

Ian Todd

Ed’s Note [Damian]: I think it’s to be expected, Ian, to be honest. If anything I think the gravity of the situation has been somewhat downplayed - certainly in national media. It must irk a few that little old Sunderland could be bound for the big time - we’ve never been great at making friends.

I see it from your perspective too though; it’s fair to suggest that fans will be restless and easily frustrated at any perceived lack of immediate investment, and I suppose some of the blame for that expectation could conceivably be levelled at local media. Ultimately though I believe everyone is responsible for managing their own expectations regardless of what the media is dangling in front of them. If you’re the kind of person that allows themselves to be fooled, I’m afraid there really is no changing your mind.

The sensible approach is by no means the most glamorous, nevertheless, it is the approach we need to take moving forward. The last thing we want is rushed investment. It will be no surprise though when the clamour reaches heights rarely seen outside of a Sunderland AFC transfer window, and the accusations start to fly. I look forward to the inevitable cries of “happy clapping licky arse wannabe journo sell out c***s” peppering Roker Report’s social media feeds courtesy of a relatively small few of our gracious readers, as is of course tradition. If Stewart Donald was planning to hang about on Twitter come the January transfer window I’d strongly advise he take a long holiday in a place with no signal, because big names for big prices will not be the order of the day and some people just won’t be able to handle that.

All that being said - if we enjoy a successful campaign going up to the transfer window would it make the expectation for heavy investment a greater issue or a lesser one? If there are bumps in the road between now and then (there will be) it’s easier to shrug off less-than-shrewd investments; “We had to bring in bodies/someone that knows this league/a leader of men” etc, etc. But when everything looks fine people will glance at the frankly ludicrous wealth of our new owners and expect luxury purchases to saunter through the doors of the Academy of Light. It’s going to be a thankless job arguing on the side of reason, but when has that ever not been the case?

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