Dear Roker Report,
Another lockdown is imminent and I don’t think crowds will be allowed back into stadiums at all this season, even in a reduced capacity. Bad news for clubs and fans alike, and it could have catastrophic consequences for some clubs - but that is a separate topic.
I think it’s worth analysing what this means for SAFC as I think the effect of playing behind closed doors has maybe been understated.
I believe for some players the effects are minimal - honest pros who give their all week in week out and don’t seek the fan’s adulation.
However, I think there are other players who need to play to a live audience and feed off it. Maybe players who could be described as ‘showmen’, ‘mavericks’ or ‘flair players’ - capable of great things but also inconsistency.
Players like Cantona & Di Canio spring to mind, but in our own little world I’m thinking of Chris Maguire. I think Maguire needs a big crowd at the SoL to show his best - to feed off it. It may go some way to explain some indifferent form by his standards & fans should take this into account.
On the flip side of course, playing to empty stands can actually be beneficial to some, especially with misplaced passes, glaring misses & schoolboy errors going un-groaned at or mocked.
Could it be argued that an empty stadium is beneficial to Phil Parkinson ? Remember how toxic match days became for Steve Bruce!
Some would argue that players are paid to play no matter what the circumstances and this is true. I just think that it’s worth bearing in mind that for some, the lack of an audience could be having more consequences than are generally realised.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Hi Michael. I think you’re probably onto something here. Big game players definitely don’t get the buzz of the crowd, and the manager isn’t getting the direct feedback from the fans either. I do, however, think that concentration and professionalism are two of the most important aspects of a player’s game when playing behind closed doors, and that may be why Grant Leadbitter and Bailey Wright have been the stand-out performers for us this year.
Dear Roker Report,
I was there when Sunderland went down to the old third division; that team had more desire and determination than the current crop. Remember, we came straight back up under the stewardship of one Denis Smith!
Last season, every time we came up against a promotion contender we fell short, and ultimately fell away from the chasing pack. Parkinson got rid of some high earners and some very good players and replaced them with league one and free signings, and we have finished up with a genuine league one team apart from the likes of Bailey Wright and a couple of others.
We still have genuine league one players, so therefore will be in the same league next season. Hopefully next season, with a better manager and new owners, we’ll have a better chance.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Hi Bill. I don’t think we can wait ‘til next season. I do believe there should be enough in this current squad for a top two finish, and I think we’ll have a clearer picture after the Ipswich game as to whether we stand a good chance of going up.
Hopefully new owners (and therefore maybe a new manager too) will be in place soon enough, and there might be a few quid to spend in January to get us up this time round.
Fingers crossed, anyway!
Dear Roker Report,
I’m a regular reader of your articles and I would like to suggest that you could add a manager rating to your player rating articles, where you could give your thoughts on the manager’s tactics and team selection etc.
Ed’s Notes [Rich]: Hi Ollie, that’s not a bad idea. I think it’s been trialled on our Player Ratings podcasts, but hasn’t become a regular feature quite yet. After my ignominious cameo appearance doing the immediate post match player ratings against Rochdale last Tuesday, I don’t think I’m qualified to comment much further.
So I asked Jimmy Lowson who usually does the ratings, and he suggested that, as there are so many different aspects of a managerial performance to cover (selection, tactics, substitutions, discipline, etc) and there’s only one manager (so it’s harder to get a benchmark and make a comparison) it could be easier to cover tactics and managerial decisions in detail in our other features, like the talking points and roundtable articles we publish after most games.
Dear Roker Report,
I am a direct debit season ticket holder, but having read bad reports about the livestream, I did not take up the offer from the club.
I would have tried it for one game and if it had been good would then have used it but the offer was either take it for the season or not at all. The email from the club also said if season ticket holders did not want the livestream they need do nothing else but did not say how they would be reimbursed.
This week I received another email asking me to check my bank details as the next Direct Debit payment would be taken on the 5th November. I tried ringing the club but could not get through, so emailed them and received an auto reply saying due to Covid they would try and get back to me within 7 days but could not guarantee it.
I have checked on the club website and cannot find any info with regards to season ticket reimbursement. Do you or any of your readers know what is happening?
For now I find Barnesy and Benno pretty good, but am looking forward to the day we can return to the SOL
Ed’s Notes [Rich]: Hi Eddie. I think you’re not the only fan in this position. I know that if you use the streaming service once then the club may not reimburse you for any of the games you’ve missed this season. So that fact that you’ve not taken up the offer of the streaming pass, and you’ve paid all your Direct Debits, means that when you do get back to your seat or the season finishes, then you should be entitled to have your money back for the games you’ve missed. If you cancel your Direct Debit you won’t be charged, but you may loose your chance to attend games if and when fans are allowed back into the ground.
However, there’s a little bit of confusion about this and so I’ve raised it with the Red & White Army and they’ll ask the club for further clarification at their meeting with the club on 12th November.
In the meantime, Chris Waters, the Supporter Liaison Officer, is always very helpful with these kinds of questions and he can be contacted at @CWaters_SAFC on twitter and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.