Dear Roker Report,
Up to now, we have been like Andrew Preview trying unsuccessfully to play Grieg’s Concerto on Morecambe and Wise – playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. We have a £4m asset who has been stranded upfield on his own, communicating with the midfield by smoke signals. I believe that the improvement in the last couple of games – better linkup play, getting the ball forward faster and putting decent crosses into the box – would benefit Will Grigg tremendously. We know what will happen if we let him go to Blackpool at a (for us) disastrous loss – he’ll start to tear the place up. Grayson will construct his side around him and he’ll revert to being the goal machine he was before Ross and Parkinson started making him play “Chopsticks” instead of his wonderful concerto. Get him in the side now and play to his strengths.
Ed’s Note [Tom]: Hi Dermot, from the look of things Parkinson doesn’t seem to fancy Grigg up front. Forwards playing in our current system need to either be brutish or pacey; unfortunately, Will Grigg doesn’t fit into either of those categories. I do think that Grigg would flourish in a side that look to play to his strengths, and I’m gutted he’s never really found his feet at the club. Grigg is the most effective when allowed to be a poacher in the opposition’s box, Sunderland just haven’t provided enough quality delivery to get the best out or the Norn Iron forward.
Dear Roker Report,
The following represents some of my thoughts particularly following the #Donaldout campaign of which I was very much opposed to. My thoughts are deep routed and as an engineer I may not be able to articulate adequately. However, poetically:
- We’re in the sh*t
- We were nearly out of the sh*t, but we’re definitely still in the sh*t
- Now were throwing sh*t at each other
- Don’t worry, there will be a big flush soon, so if we reach and pull that leaver we can flush that sh*t down
”But won’t we still be in the sh*t?”
Anyway, we all want Sunderland to succeed. I wouldn’t expect that anybody is happy or content with our current league standing or the current likelihood that we we fail to be promoted this season. However I believe There is a difference between being realistic about our plight and accepting it. It’s also a bit naive that to think that if any of the major decisions that SD has made in the last 18 months had differed, would have guaranteed a better outcome.
I roughly understand why there was the voice for change, Ross leaving didn’t work, so move up the chain, but I think the #DonaldOut movement was unfair and misdirected. Unfair because the main justification for the movement was based on the misquote of “you said you sell when you’d outstayed your welcome” followed by a couple of twitter poles (reliable source???). This was music to the ears of festively plump and hungover sections of the fanbase who are desperate for somebody to blame for their domestic troubles. The general fanbase wanted change with Jack Ross, and SD gave them exactly that. But Change can go both ways. You’ll never know if we were exceeding or failing our current circumstances it’s subjective and debatable. You’ll never know if other managers could have got the lads firing. All you know is that you’re not happy and you want things to be better.
The biggest challenge to the club is keeping the fans positive while the club and team gathers momentum, which it will. The fans hate league 1. So anything less than a dominating 3 points is a failure. It’s a polar opposite to what we were used to in the PL. I feel SD was doing a decent job at moving forward, but possibly at the cost of achieving promotion this year. I also think he’s been preparing the club to survive in league 1 and whether you like it or not it was always a real possibility, so to have not prepared would have been catastrophic.
The problem (one of) with twitter is the ease in which you can present opinion as fact and then how quickly these “facts” can then influence other opinions. Theories become conclusions, grumbles become movements and before you know it all of the hard work going on in the background becomes derailed all because key information has been misinterpreted.
I also believe he was making progress with the resources need to progress through the championship i.e Americans. If you listen back to the early podcast interviews I believe his original quotes were on the lines of. He believed he had the resources to hand to get us out of league 1 and would move aside if he felt that he couldn’t move the club forward. Also regarding investment, I’m pretty sure that he said he was looking for the right investment for the club, he wasn’t looking to sell however would listen if he felt that the interested party could benefit the club. It seems that his actions mirrored his words.
One thing we should have learned from the recent election is that everyone’s “Twittersphere” is biased to individual preferences and do not often give balanced data (otherwise I would have seen landslide Labour victory). It also misrepresents the volume. 10 itchy twitter fingers can sound like millions.
I think the Fanzines and podcasts are on a steep learning curve. SD has provided a lot of board level insight for discussion and interrogation however, while in parallel the reach of the podcasts in particular has grown significantly. I don’t think that (the collective) you all realise how influential you all are, or at least didn’t until the recent campaign. Please refer to the Proverb “With great power comes great responsibility”. Maybe (the collective) you weren’t ready for it, professionally. But I feel the trust has been broken and the opportunities lost, (A real shame).
Regardless of our league position I feel SD has had the interests of the club at hearth through some very difficult circumstances. I honestly hope that the #Donaldout movement doesn’t set us back further. There are plenty of asset stripping and heartless business people who would be happy to rinse us of our club. SD’s recent press leak regarding the clubs sale has further convinced me that he has the clubs interest at heart. He’s actually unified support of the fans for a while by resolving the matter quickly (at least declaring his intentions).
I just hope we don’t just move on to another focal point, because we’re running out. Rotten Core, Jack Ross, Stewart Donald... It’ll be Samson and Delilah next.
I hope this doesn’t sound like a tirade against the fanzine formats. One chapter doesn’t define a book and I take a lot of satisfaction and entertainment from all of the formats, my opinions are my own and represent 1 expatriated Sunderland fan.
Ed’s Note [Tom]: Hi Anthony, a really good letter, mate, thanks for writing in. I agree with much that you’ve said, but I have also been told that the fanzines involved (including RR) asked for an audience with Donald to discuss the issues at hand, yet were unable to set up an adequate meeting. As such, they felt as though this was their only option left. It is also worth noting that that club has seemingly been for sale since the summer and the two failed takeover bids, the only difference now is that Donald no longer wants to stay on at board level.
We do need to be careful what we wish for, however, and we also need to thank Donald for steadying a ship that was heading for the depths. That being said, there’s a long list of issues that you’d like to think would have been remedied by now, yet haven’t been. Recruitment policy, playing identity, boardroom staff, and a host of other issues still linger and have seemingly hindered the club’s progress - as seen by this season’s performances.
Personally, I hoped that Donald would have responded to the criticism with a newfound sense of determination to find success. That being said, I still have respect for him stating that he will invest this window and move aside.