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Fan Letters: Are Sunderland fans owed an apology for sensational claims of the verbal abuse?

RR reader Joe take umbrage to the unsubstantiated accusations levelled at Sunderland fans by the media, whilst Neil thinks Benji Kimpioka needs to prove himself. Got something to say? Email us:!

Dear Roker Report,

Reading league 1 news,came across a story from Portsmouth local paper.that Portsmouth fans had to step in to calm Sunderland fans ,who were having a go at Donald after the there any truth in this? Do you agree if this story is untrue the paper should retract it and apologise to sunderland fans for printing this story.

Joe Williams

Ed’s Note [Damian]: I have no doubt that there is a possibility that when faced with Stewart Donald in the near vicinity, there is a portion of the fan base more than willing to (wrongly) verbally abuse him - let’s just say he doesn’t have many friends on Wearside these days - but the implication that he was sought out by fans in a sinister attempt to abuse him is sensationalist at best, especially with no evidence to substantiate it.

However, the notion that he was saved by Portsmouth fans - who count among them some of the lowest dregs of football fans - were there to ‘save’ Donald from the evil mackems. As with most regional and, indeed, national newspapers, I would steer clear and trust in my instincts when it comes to clickbait trash like that, my friend.

To answer your question: if it isn’t substantiated it should absolutely be retracted with an apology. But you’ll be holding your breath a long time waiting for it because modern journalism is a stagnant, gnat-infested swamp in which trolls ply their sordid trade. That’s what happens when integrity falls before the might of propagandist capitalism.

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

Dear Roker Report,

Anyone that thinks Benji is the answer to Sunderland’s forward problems are very wide of the mark!

I watch the U23s every home game at Eppleton and unfortunately Benji hasn’t got the game to be a regular first team player.

He is unable to hold the ball up, can’t head the ball and is more of a liability to the team, not releasing the ball quickly enough, losing possession and regularly frustrating his fellow team mates. He also has a short fuse and is easily wound up by opposing defenders, to which he reacts to!

He has no composure in front of goal, regularly snatching at his chances and in my view needs to be released.

He is only young and may come good, but l doubt it and any scouts that have watched his performances would not have been impressed with his ability or attitude, so l can’t see a large number of teams willing to take him on.

If he steps down to a local level, he would be an easy target for experienced defenders to handle. Please no more ‘give Benji a Chance’ - he’s nowhere near good enough!

Neil Henderson

Ed’s Note [Damian]: To be honest Neil I’m inclined to agree, though I’ve rarely seen him play. The handful of minutes he’s had in the senior team have certainly done nothing to support the idea that he’s the cure to what ails us.

It’s often too easy for the average supporter to point at what limited information we all actually have as supporters, and make sweeping statements about who should be given a chance and what the powers that be are doing wrong. In Sunderland’s case it’s tragically all too often obvious what’s plaguing the team on the pitch, yet still we can be ignored vociferously because ultimately we aren’t qualified to make that call. Yet within that frustrating aspect of being just a lowly supporter, we have to strive to remember that those who are markedly more qualified than us are given opportunity after opportunity to watch and learn all there is to find about the players at their disposal. Simply put; if he isn’t doing it in training - or at u23 level - he isn’t going to get a chance, no matter how “highly-rated” he may have been labelled as upon arrival.

In the end Kimpioka’s future is in his own hands. As tough as the formative years of a footballer are, no one can stake a claim for him, in any team, other than himself. I hope he does find a good future at Sunderland, but I won’t be losing sleep if he doesn’t give it everything to make the cut.

Sunderland v Leicester City U21: Cup Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Although I have lived in the South for over 35 years I was a season ticket holder in the Clock and Main stands at Roker Park years ago and was there for the 1973 FA Cup win at Wembley, the only success in my lifetime. Nevertheless I follow the fate of Sunderland very closely even though seldom seeing them live.

We are all desperate for promotion from this low league. Based on viewing a few matches on tv it seems to me that at best we can get to the play offs.

My concern is even if we get to the Play Off Final and win we are likely to be relegated next season. Look at where Luton, Barnsley and Charlton are in the Championship currently. Reluctantly I fear that to survive in the Championship we need a team of far better calibre than we have at present. We may have to wait for another season yet.

Alexander Phillips

Ed’s Note [Damian]: It’s a difficult situation Alexander, and I can empathise with your fears here. Rationality dictates that we accept the play-offs as our best hope of promotion, it’s true. It’s somewhat ignoble, failing to achieve promotion via that little miniature tournament, but it’s something we could feasibly suffer for a second time if Parkinson doesn’t keep us on the straight and narrow and the new recruits don’t quickly stiffen the spine of the team.

If we do make it out of this division at the second time of asking though, I wouldn’t be terrified that we would be instantly relegated. In truth the calibre of player between the divisions isn’t as vast a chasm as we once believed, having seen from both sides of the looking glass recently enough to still be somewhat depressed about everything. The real difference is the money - but unlike the Premier League, where the truly obscene levels of cold, hard cash available are a real game-changer, the Championship is still as unattractive as anything below that elite level.

This isn’t to say that there are more good players in League One than there are the Championship, but that the scale is a gradual incline through the divisions in the pyramid until you reach the Premier League, at which point where you were once walking up a shallow hill, you’re now at the summit of a sheer rock face. The differences between League One and Championship are substantial, but the difference between Championship and Premier League are so stark as to be almost alien in their comparison.

I think, with the right ownership and general club management, a Sunderland AFC that greets the Championship next season will be as equipped to consolidate as any of their counterparts coming up.

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