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Fan Letters: “How do you think Johnson is doing so far at Sunderland?” asks Bristol City fan Ben

In today’s fan letters, Gordon asks if the ref should have called off the Wimbledon game, Anthony tells his fan story, and Craig wants more pace in the side. Got something to say?!

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

Dear Roker Report,

When SAFC requested to have their home game cancelled, Was the Referee and other Officials in hiding, with there thumbs stuck up their Backsides?

They are the ones that have not been mentioned and have the authority to call off games. They do not hesitate when it is dangerous for them to slip in the mud due to snow or rain.

Gordon Seymour

Ed’s Note [Rich]: Cheers for your letter Gordon. The refs in League 1 are pretty poor overall, I think we’ve all seen that, but to be fair to the officials on Tuesday it’s not for them to get involved at all, unless there was clear that they had immediate safety concerns for those actually at the Stadium. I doubt any ref would go against the EFL, club or public health authority’s decisions and apply their own subjective judgement on a matter upon which, unlike the suitability of a playing surface, they have no expertise.

Dear Roker Report,

How do you think Lee Johnson is doing so far?

Would love to know your thoughts.

Ben Graham - Bristol City Fan

Ed’s Note [Rich]: Hi Ben, thanks for getting in touch. It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks for Lee Johnson at Sunderland. He jumped straight into the deep end, breaking all tradition by taking full charge of the Wigan game on his first day in the job, eking out a win in the EFL Trophy a couple of days later and then going and astounding us all by masterminding a barnstorming 4-0 win away to Lincoln, before Covid-19 hit the squad and we scraped a draw with Wimbledon in a game that should never have taken place.

Our impression of him as a coach and as a personality has so far been really positive. He’s already getting a song out of Aiden McGeady, who was training with the U23s under Phil Parkinson, and bringing young players into the side who have taken the opportunity.

He talks a good game; I like the references to POMO and Bomb Alley (at least they show he thinks and analyses the game) and generally the football seems more progressive and exciting. He’s now got a covid-enforced window to take stock and assess his squad before the January transfer window

You lot had him for four years and I know he split opinion with Robins fans by the end, but I am optimistic that we’ve found a good fit for our new, more modern footballing set up at the club.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Young prospect Jack Diamond has taken the opportunity given to him by Lee Johnson
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Haven’t been anywhere for the last 9 months with all these restrictions I have got time on my hands and I’m a bit bored with nothing to do but watching TV and streaming.

I can’t wait for the end of 2020 for not only the pandemic and also for the reasons that effected the club. In 1965 I came to England from Malta to live and work in London. In 1967 I met my future Sunderland born wife and she took me to my first Sunderland away match. In 1991 we moved to Sunderland and it was the best move we ever made.

My first Saturday in Sunderland was unique. My brother in law invited me to my first visit to ROKER PARK. Around noon we walked from EDEN VALE to the STAR Pub at the bottom of Durham Road and pub crawled all the way to ROKER PARK. That’s all I can remember. I was later told that the score was 0-0.

Also in the ‘90’s I was on holiday with my family in STOCKHOLM having lunch when this guy approached our table pointing at me (I was wearing a SUNDERLAND SHIRT) and started to name the 1973 cup winning players and shouting Sunderland Sunderland ROKER ROKER, amazing! Later he explained that he was AUSTRIAN and in the 70’s he had studied at the Durham UNIVERSITY and that he will never forget the area and will always be a Sunderland fan amazing.

Now I understand somehow what NIALL QUINN MEANT when he said Sunderland got under my skin. It has been a rollercoaster ride with the ups and downs but that’s Sunderland all over and that’s why we keep wishing and hoping.

Surely it can only get better. With my name now you know fellow ROKER report readers how I started my journey to become a MACKEM.


Anthony DeGiovanni

Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thanks for writing in Anthony, it’s nice to hear from you again and I hope you’re keeping safe and well during this horrible time. Yours is one of those wonderful stories of how our beloved club grasps people from all over and drags them in that I could listen to all day, and also speaks to how wherever we go in the world we will always seem to stumble across find another Lads fan. It reminds us how, despite our lowly position right now, we are a huge, famous old club with a proud history and massive following.

And yes, let’s hope we have many brighter days ahead of us, starting in 2021.

Dear Roker Report,

We’re absolutely desperate for pace and height in this team... can anyone explain to me how we have gone all these years without addressing such an obvious problem???

It’s a joke. Hope the new guys can do something in January. We need people out wide, up top and through the middle who are quick. Could be the difference between going up and not.

Craig Crossan

Ed’s Note [Rich]: Hi Craig, hope you’re keeping safe and well. I think the answer to your question lies in the series of poor decisions taken by owners, executives and managers at the club over the last decade. In this period in League 1, the fact that we’ve had a minimalist scouting operation and nobody in charge of recruitment for most of this year explains why the current squad still lacks these essential qualities.

We know that Lee Johnson has quickly identified this as a problem in the side and, like you, I can only hope that he and Speakman are backed in January to go and at least sign some exciting young talent on loan from the Premier League or Championship.

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