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Fan Letters: More in-depth debate surrounding Sunderland’s future and the concerns of supporters

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Whilst matters on the pitch have improved over recent games, the debate surrounding the club’s future under the ownership of Stewart Donald rages on. Got something to say? Email: RokerReport@Yahoo.co.uk!

Sunderland v Portsmouth - Sky Bet League One Play-Off: First Leg Photo bt Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’ve been following Sunderland since the 1950’s. Undoubtedly in this time this is the lowest point in our history. We’re all disappointed and frustrated. We haven’t got a great set of players most of whom have cost very little.

But why all the negativity from the Gloomsters and Doomsters repeatedly on social media and also on your own podcasts? It is easy supporting winning teams but don’t you think that there is a time to get behind a team and properly support it.

You and the keyboard warriors have succeeded in getting rid of a decent intelligent and potentially good manager in Jack Ross. Now you are campaigning to change the ownership and Donald who unfortunately has a thin skin.

You are also trying to get rid of Parkinson. Why don’t you see that one of Sunderland’s problems over the last 10 years or so has been the too frequent Managerial changes allied to the frequent change of players and style of play. Whatever you might say about Parkinson he at least must have a thick skin and true resilience and stickability to have put up with all the abuse and criticism in print and on social media. This was the guy who held Bolton together over two years of financial instability and inability to get into the transfer market. Also ask the Bradford City fans what they think of his promotions and being the only 4th tier manager ever to get his team to a major cup final.

He’s been here a few weeks and has gradually forged a style of play and team from a not very talented group of players despite constant criticism and the team is now unbeaten in 5 games. He has rightfully got rid of a very talented popular but difficult character which again has not been popular but as a consequence has a committed team playing for him [even Chris Maguire].

Stop whinging and get behind him.

On a positive note we are building a youthful core of potentially good future players in O’Nien, Willis, Dobson, Gooch, Hume and Mumba, with hopefully Ethan Robson and Elliot Embleton soon to join them.

Finally - can we also just stop thinking that Kevin Phillips is the answer to our prayers. Here was a player who stopped playing for us in his last year, put in two transfer requests to get away and had a disciplinary problem in the club. Add to that his refusal to come back to us and play for Niall Quinn and chose to move to West Brom instead not fancying living in the North East. Despite trying, he has never been appointed to any manager role and has had a succession of coaching roles never pulling up any trees. Unless I’m mistaken he has not yet received a call from his mate Nigel Pearson to join him at his own former club Watford. In short, he is not the answer for Sunderland.

At a time when we are six points behind the second automatic promotion place with two games in hand, forget the negativity and debates on ownership which we can’t influence and let’s get behind the Lads in red and white. If we do we might just might get promoted this season with some positivity.

Haway the Lads.

Colin Ions

Ed’s Note [Gav]: I just wish that people could separate the want for positive change off the pitch from the support given by the fans at games. It feels to me like that, as someone who feels the club needs to change hands in order to be successful, you can be sure that your concerns won’t be heard because people don’t even want to consider that there are positive ways to enact change.

The whole stadium were behind the players on Saturday - it’s clear that the fans are very much behind them. That’s why thirty-odd thousand of us turn up to every game, to support the players and will them on to win. Regardless of what any of us think of the manager or the owner, supporting the team during games is always the priority.

Dismissing people expressing their concerns as ‘whinging’ and ‘abuse’ is just unfair, I think. My own concerns regarding the ownership have been well-documented here on RR, and I won’t bore anyone by repeating them at great length, but there’s been a complete lack of desire from the owner to address the club’s leadership and organisational issues which I believe will hold us back over the long-term.

If he’s not prepared to run the club in a manner that I personally feel it should be - i.e. with the best possible people overseeing all areas of the club on a day-to-day basis, ensuring the highest possible standards are met and that everyone is held accountable as we strive to exceed all of our goals and targets - then he simply has to pass the club on to someone with the ambition to implement a plan for this club beyond what happens this season.

I don’t think that’s unfair, really.

Doncaster Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

1) Is it at all possible that the reaction of the day after by said supporter groups may have been let’s say, a wee bit premature? Short-sighted? Nearly every man and his dog have commented on what impact this may have had on the transfer window i.e. why would someone who wants to sell up invest money into trying to improve the squad? Fortunately it sounds like SD is still going to do his best to support the club during January so...

2) As the current owner has now stated as a result of the “fans voice” (I disagree that you speak for me by the way), he has decided to leave once a buyer can be found. An appropriate buyer, not just whoever has the cash or will pay the most. If he is to be believed of course. Many have doubted him from day 1...

As a result of him deciding to leave us, have we set an extremely dangerous precedent? I say this because many could argue that if whoever owns the club doesn’t give us “success” then we basically hound them out of the club.

And what is defined as success?

To Gav specifically. I have had great admiration for your contributions and believe you have a more than grounded understanding of the game. No question BUT, after reading your recent replies to some emails where individuals are questioning the continuous negativity toward SD, the manager, players in particular you seem to be incapable of considering what these supporters are trying to get at.

Gav, how are you or anyone else qualified to say you know exactly what is going on behind the scenes and that if we don’t change ownership then basically we are fcuked?! You or anyone else are not privvy to the books or the day-to-day facts and goings on inside the football club, yet you all seem to speak with such authority! And you seem to know what is best for the club as well.

I am one of the first people to admit that SD has made some mistakes and is far from perfect but without this bloke where exactly would we be? It’s not an over dramatic statement in my view that we could be no longer part of the football league. We may not have even had what is most precious to us. SAFC.

When you replied what success has he brought to the club or what has SD achieved since being here in a recent reply it made me think a hell of a lot.

Are you and others capable of admitting perhaps you have made a mistake? You certainly seem to be quick to keep telling us that SD should admit to the mistakes he has made.

I don’t believe for one second that PP is the man to get us out of the Championship into the PL, or even keep us in the Championship, however I am starting to consider and perhaps even believe after the last 3 games that he might, just might be the man to get us out of this division. Which has to be the absolute priority. Is it not?

One final point. I have just read the players scores and comments for today’s game.

Much criticism of certain players 2nd half performance. I wasn’t there but listened to Barnes and Bennett in radio.

Is it not possible that one reason Flanagan flagged in 2nd half was he lacks match fitness. Is it not considered or possible that a few others who have run their bollocks off in the previous 2 fixtures and first half of today that after playing 3 games in what is it something like 8-9 days that they are knackered?

Just a bit of food for thought. It just seems to me in pretty much every aspect at least some amongst us are far too quick to judge or form opinions!

Anyway, opinion or for some rant over.

Best wishes to ALL @ RR and the true Sunderland fan base. We can definitely be the some of the best supporters in the world, but equally we can be some of the worst.

Nick In Kent

Ed’s Note [Gav]: To answer several of your questions...

I don’t believe it was premature, no. I think that what people fail to see is that Stewart Donald hasn’t just decided to sell the club because of a little bit of fan criticism.

He’s been trying to sell the club for the best part of a year, as demonstrated by the failed takeovers by Mark Campbell’s group and the FPP group in the summer (regardless of what he says, that was definitely a takeover that went wrong). People in the game know that Sunderland are up for sale and have been for some time, regardless of what Stewart suggests. It’s just very convenient for him to pin all of it on supporters, as it gives him an easier way out/excuse.

My opinion on the matter hasn’t changed just because results have improved. I still think that the club needs to go into the hands of owners who are better-placed to take the club forward long-term. Stewart and Charlie Methven have both spoken about how far they feel their own capital can take the club, and it’s pretty obvious that it won’t take Sunderland much further than the level we’re at currently, demonstrated by the fact he’s actively pursued investment from other avenues in order to assist with standard repairs to the stadium and academy.

I personally don’t take everything he says as gospel, because quite a lot of the evidence suggests what he says and then what he does don’t always marry up.

I don’t believe I’ve implied that the club is “fcuked” either - merely that I think, long term, the best thing for the club is that we have owners who can not only afford to take us back to where I feel we rightly belong, but who will also address the club’s issues with its flimsy leadership infrastructure. Just take a look at it yourself, and then ask “is this really the best we can do?”.

I totally respect that some people don’t agree with my feelings on why it’s for the best that the club changes hands. I think it’d be naive to suggest that only a small portion of fans feel this way though. Yet, you’ve suggested I feel I’m more qualified than others to give my opinion on it. I’m not, and I’ve never claimed to be. I’m just a fan with an opinion, nothing more.

I also think the notion that the club would have gone under without Donald is completely over the top. He wasn’t the only person who wanted to buy the club. In fact, if anyone saved this club it was Ellis Short, by paying off the massive debts and leaving Donald with the club in decent shape, taking a relatively low sum of money in exchange for his shares.

I don’t profess to be a financial expert and never will, so will purposely avoid debating that sort of stuff, but I do feel I’ve gained a pretty detailed knowledge of the club’s infrastructure and how the place runs. I don’t need to disclose how or why I know these things, but do understand why you might not want to believe what I say as you don’t know me from Adam.

Thanks for your letter, though. We all just want what is best for the club and, for me, that involves the club changing hands to ensure we are capable of competing at a higher level.