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Fan Letters: “Anything more for Sunderland than the play-offs? Not with this manager & tactics”

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In today’s fan letters, supporters give their thoughts on Phil Parkinson and ponder on the changes needed to get us up the league. Let us know what you think - RokerReport@Yahoo.co.uk!

Sunderland v Portsmouth - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

As I sat down with my four cans of Goose IPA, about to turn on Rochdale vs Sunderland, I’m not sure what I was expecting.

A win at the very least; other than that I don’t know. Changes had been made – maybe this manager is up to it? Identifying problems and making the changes. But, same formation, same tactics, same problems. A striker (who I don’t rate), out on his own with the nearest player to him still in Sunderland.

Every time I see the line ups I’m left scratching my head. Three centre backs. Really? Do we really need to be playing with three centre backs? The aim is to be solid defensively, which worked for the first six games. Now we’ve shipped five in two games. A change is needed, however it almost certainly won’t happen.

From the back we lump the ball into no man’s land more often than not. On the rare occasions they do hit the very isolated Charlie Wyke, the players around him stand and watch as they have no expectations of him winning the ball. “Get beyond him, gamble!” I scream at the screen in front of me but, alas, they can’t hear me.

George Dobson came into the side and took no time in proving why he doesn’t get in the starting eleven regularly. I’m not entirely sure what Max Power does, never have been. I thought Sanderson looked good, particularly early on, despite us conceding twice I don’t think he was to blame. Gooch carried a threat, which often alludes him.

Rochdale v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Dom was impressed with the threat Gooch carried on Tuesday night
Photo by Visionhaus

Maguire is the Sunderland player I dislike the most. I think it’s because technically, he is Sunderland’s best player, but his performances are below par more often than not.

For me he slows the play down. He’s a forward player. When the ball comes into him he should have an idea of where he’s going and what he’s going to do with the ball. He turns back, with the turning circle of a blue whale, and puts it into the players behind him who we know have little chance of making that killer pass and mainly because by the time Maguire has held onto the ball and turned back the opposition are in position and ready for whatever is about to come there way, which is usually nothing.

I noticed Maguire was given a seven in Roker Report’s player ratings for the Portsmouth game, how the lad came to that conclusion is beyond me.

I like Denver Hume’s forward play. He is usually the main threat when he carries the ball forward, he can be naive at times and can make mistakes defensively, but there’s hope for him.

Charlie Wyke is putting the ball in the net, which is all we really want, but he should be doing so much more. Players should be bouncing off him, runners in behind, very little that gets humped up to Wyke turns into a real threatening attack.

I keep seeing match reports that will invariably say that, “Wyke put himself about the pitch”. Don’t see it? Me neither.

The game actually changed a bit last night when Danny Graham came on (far too late), he was dropping deep to receive the ball and quickly bringing other players into play. We showed a bit more urgency and almost won it with a great strike from Power which unfortunately Graham couldn’t get any power in his header on the follow up.

Can we hope for anything better than the playoffs?

I don’t think so.

Not with this manager.

Not with those tactics.

Having said that, keep the faith.

Dom Walsh

Ed’s Note [Martin]: I share your frustration with the last couple of performances, Dom, and with the squad that’s been assembled, it’s difficult to see how he changes the approach, unless he brings in some of the youngsters, which based on his past he’ll not do.

I find it doubly frustrating because I don’t think we’re that far off making a strong challenge for the top two (which should be our minimum aim), but Parkinson seems reluctant to change it too much. I don’t have an issue with three centre backs personally, especially when the likes of Willis get forward so much – to my mind the issues lie in midfield and upfront. We still haven’t got that right.

The only thing good about Tuesday night seems to have been your selection of beer - a quality drop!


Dear Roker Report,

I hope you are all well, because I think Parky has lost the plot.

The man’s analysis of the Rochdale game: ‘Dobson had a good game.’ Absolute bullshit he was. ‘Wyke is a quality striker but he missed a good chance in the second half.’

Fact: quality strikers, Parky, should take half chances never mind the one he missed in the second half.

Parkinson’s win rate is 36% – we got rid of a manager with a better one than that.

His excuses for bad performances of the team, his team selection and playing players out of position are schoolboy management errors.

Every man and his dog could see we needed pace in the team. Did he resolve it? No. Instead we pack the midfield with plodders with no pace.

Maguire cannot play alongside Wyke, any one can see that his form has gone off the boil playing the role Parkinson has him doing.

Parkinson will not get us out of this league – he should have never have got the job in the first place. It was a big mistake by Donald – he went for experience, and it has not worked.

John O’Shea left the club – why did they not offer him a coaching role with Ross?

Reading v Chelsea - Pre-Season Friendly
Should O’Shea have been kept on as a coach? Mark believes so.
Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images

The lad is doing an excellent job at Reading, but that’s typical Sunderland – let a long-serving player with heaps of experience who knew the club inside out go, and we are now stuck with this shit manager and his stone age tactics.

I am afraid if we lose against Gillingham he should resign. Unfortunately, he will not, and we cannot afford to sack him.

The whole club is a mess from top to bottom, again. Now we hear, as part of any deal to sell, Donald, Methven, and the invisible man Sartori want to retain a stake in the club.

The fans want nothing to do with these bullshitters. Enough is enough of this Donald and Co using the club as a play thing and bleeding and asset stripping the club dry.

The fans will welcome any new owners with open arms – all we want is decent football to watch and some structure in place to take the club forward.

If it takes time like Leeds so be it, but the club cannot continue like this. The fans have backed the club home and away, and deserve better.

Going forward, I hope there are better times ahead for everyone.

Take care,

Mark Wild

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Alongside the result on Tuesday night, the biggest concern for me was Parkinson’s post match comments – as you point out there was praise of some who clearly didn’t perform, while his comment that we were ‘very good’ was just bizarre and insulting to those who’d paid a tenner to watch. He clearly saw a different game to the one you and I endured.

It feels like we’re just in limbo now. A change could be made in the dugout, which might give us some benefit in the short term, however real change won’t be possible until the people at the top go, and some new owners with a clear and purposeful long-term strategy come in their place.

I’d challenge you on the notion that any new owners will be welcomed with open arms though. As a fan base, we need to be cautious about whoever comes into the club – in hindsight we were all a little too trusting of Donald and co early on, more through hope than anything else, and I think we need to err on the side of caution. As we’ve seen at Wigan, Bury and many other clubs, there are plenty of very bad owners out there.

I do believe our current owners have their heart in the right place, just don’t necessarily have the money to put into it to make a go of it, which to be fair they did acknowledge from the outset, however the way they’ve gone about things for the past 18 months, including the sale of the talented youngsters you allude to, has left a very bad taste.


Dear Roker Report,

Time is of the essence.

We started the season okay, got ourselves in the play-off places but suddenly we’ve lost momentum. If we are not careful we will slip too far behind the leaders.

Call me old fashioned, but I would play 4-4-2. But Parkinson will not do that so he has to go 3-5-2.

Burge, Willis, Wright, Flanagan. O’Nien, Maguire, Power, Gooch, Hume. Grigg, Wyke.

Subs: Matthews, outfield players from, Kimpioka, Graham, Diamond, Scowen, Neil, Sanderson, O’Brien, Leadbitter.

Sunderland v Bristol Rovers - Sky Bet League One
All we are saying, is give Grigg a chance.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

I think a midfield three of power in the middle sitting a bit deeper with Gooch and Maguire either side could work well,

David Paterson

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for the letter David, and I certainly don’t think you’re old fashioned for thinking about 4-4-2 – I think it’s a system that’s been written off by ‘football hipsters’ because it doesn’t work on their computer game. But that’s probably just me.

I’ve got no issue with the three at the back to be honest, and as you’ve identified the issue is ahead of that.

I must admit, I fail to see what Power brings to the side, and think – until Saturday at least –Leadbitter had been our best player this season. I’m not sure Maguire and Gooch would have the positional discipline to play in those roles – I’d prefer Scowen and Dan Neil maybe to be given a run alongside Leadbitter in the midfield.

I’m completely with you on Grigg – I’ll keep saying this, but it’s ridiculous we’ve not found a system and team to get the best out of him. Dan Neil linked up well with him in pre-season, and that’s surely worth a try.

I’d love to see two up front – I’d likely go with Graham ahead of Wyke though – despite Charlie’s recent goals. All about opinions, and what it does underline is that we’re all certain some changes in both personnel and tactics are required.