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Fan Letters: “Why do we play with five defenders and a deep holding midfield player?”

Roker Report readers Doug, Alan & Michael provide their thoughts on the state of the takeover, changing the manager and Phil Parkinson’s tactics - do you agree?! Let us know your thoughts:!

Sunderland v Bristol Rovers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

The silence on the takeover...

Any news on what’s happening?

Even the rumour mill has gone quiet.

Doug Raine

Ed’s Note [Chris]: Good question Doug, and I have no idea whatsoever.

The rumour mill as far as the takeover is concerned has been an odd one due to people who have wanted to take a ride on it, but nothing concrete appears to be close.

I’m not going to hold my breath on this one and I’m not sure if anyone would be surprised if we started 2021 with the same owners in charge at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
Stewart Donald - will he still be Sunderland owner in 2021?
Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

After that performance at the weekend it’s hard to see how Parkinson has taken us forward since that Wycombe game ten or eleven months ago.

The game at Oxford at the weekend could ultimately decided his fate. While I don’t expect him to be sacked after we draw or especially lose at Oxford, I could see the same happen to him as what happened to Ross last season.

If we don’t win the Oxford game the amount of pressure that goes into the following games against Charlton Athletic and Peterborough United means they become must win games. This is why I see the Oxford game as a very important game to get right. Irrespective of results, I can’t see Donald sacking him if he is trying to sell or currently in talks to sell the club.

If the time comes after seven to ten games and we aren’t where we should be, there are managers out there who could take the job. Most notably Paul Cook or even the Cowley’s.

If I had a choice I would be taking Paul Cook due to the fact he could get us out of League One and get us going in the Championship, which is something I don’t see Parkinson doing. It also helps he got the best out of Grigg and Power at Wigan, who are two players that I believe haven’t done enough for us for various reasons.

I don’t see us sacking Parkinson and rightly so for the moment, it’s been one game so far that we should have won, but its the same as recent years saying we need to learn to break teams down etc.

Three years we’ve now had this issue at home, when will the players and manager eventually learn?

Also, the lack of pace is a joke in that team. Something Parkinson said he wanted to address early in the summer. Still time so let’s hope he does.


Alan Smith

Ed’s Note [Chris]: Phil Parkinson has been in football a long time and knows more than anyone that he needed to hit the ground running this season.

The argument is that it’s too soon to start changing the manager, but it’s almost a year since the former Bradford City man took charge and it’s difficult to see a successful outcome to his reign at the current time.

He needs to start picking up results very soon or it will very quickly become untenable to keep him in his job.

Wigan Athletic v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship
Paul Cook - is he the man that could take Sunderland to the Championship?
Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

We are one of the favourites for promotion again this year and certainly one of the biggest clubs in League One, so can anyone explain why we play with five defenders and a deep holding midfield player?

We are playing at home against an average team, the wing-backs last season didn’t exactly create loads of chances on their overlap runs and both cross like defenders.

Changed to 4-4-2 late in second half and the improvement was obvious, the modern system of five at the back relies heavily on wing-backs making chances, and ours don’t do that often enough.

I am an admirer of both our full backs but not in the current system.

Michael Neill

Ed’s Note [Chris]: I asked the same question on the player ratings podcast immediately after the game Michael!

I can see what he’s trying to do and the system is all well and good in theory, the holding player in midfield dictates the play and steps in when one of the three central defender’s steps out to join in with the attack.

However, in my opinion this becomes a pointless exercise when we have an opposition at the Stadium of Light who manage to get a goal and the proceed to sit on the edge of their penalty area to defend their lead.

A proactive manager would have surely witnessed how that first half was playing out and changed it after half an hour. Instead we have the usual hoping for the best until the last quarter of the game when we suddenly try and impose our influence on the game.

I think we need to be comfortable with a range of systems that means we can change the mentality of how we play depending on what occurs during a game, but unfortunately I don’t think we seem to have the management to implement it.

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