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Fan Letters: ‘Fans are treated with contempt and the future doesn’t look great,’ says RR reader Paul

It’s a packed mailbag this evening, with the takeover, Donald, the state of north east football and next season’s squad all under the microscope.

Sunderland v Carlisle United: EFL Trophy Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Re: The hotbed of football article (Reader’s Corner, 21 January 2021)

Spot on. The decline started when Quinny left.

Ellis Short knew nothing about football, and was taken for a ride by chancers who left the club with fortunes. He made millions available but it was wasted. Margaret Byrne who seemed to give five years contracts to every Tom, Dick and Harry, and that’s not to mention the Alvarez business – that must be the biggest laugh in world football!

How incompetent can you be? You could go on forever.

For us fans it has been a slow agony in progress. How long do we have to suffer?

We don’t ask for much, just 11 passionate players on the pitch. How many clubs in the country that have won nothing in nearly 50 years like Sunderland and Newcastle will have a following of between 2000 and 5000 away fans, not to mention the big home fanbase.

If you can’t play with a bit of passion for us crazy loving football fans you don’t deserve to be on a football pitch.

Anthony DeGiovanni

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for your email Anthony, it’s thoroughly depressing when you rake through the years of failure and mismanagement, isn’t it? Ellis Short was badly let down by the people he appointed, and look where we’ve ended up. You’d think it wouldn’t be that difficult to get a passionate, motivated and talented group of players on the field – but it seems to be the most difficult thing in the world.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League
Should have just signed him, shouldn’t we?
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report.

After another false start this week – Whacked Wimbledon, Puked against Pilgrims.

But the main question is “What’s happening with the Takeover?”

It’s all gone quiet over there.

Pensioner Paul

Ed’s Note [Martin]: If ever a week summed us up this was it. We were fortunate to get a convincing result at Wimbledon, and you’d think the players would use that as a confidence booster ahead of a home fixture against a team who’d not won away all season. But no. Of course not.

We’re in a strange limbo period now, aren’t we? Hopefully, the takeover will be ratified by the EFL soon, but who knows. The EFL’s incompetence has been seen time and time again over the past 12 months, and it’d be no surprise if the correspondence regarding the takeover is still sat, unopened, on Kevin the EFL caretaker’s desk.

As always, we wait in hope.

Sunderland v Plymouth Argyle - Sky Bet League 1
If ever a game was ‘typical Sunderland’ this was it
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Sunderland should be shown to any prospective football club owner or Chief Executive as a classic example of how to alienate fans and get them to surrender their season tickets and not run a club.

If we include this current season, in the space of seven seasons we have gone from established Premier league club and League Cup finalists to our third season in League One and looking likely to remain there .

Fans are treated with contempt – for example if, like me, you renewed your season ticket (mine was almost £500) all you are going to get for that are 23 poor quality streams which you could have bought at £10 a game. There has been no goodwill gesture of even a free cup match, I could have saved £270. Methven, who still has a say on how our club is run, insulted the fans and the area.

This coupled with shocking recruitment, (the ego boost signing of Grigg by Donald being the worst) cutting everything to the bone and erratic and poor performances on the pitch have hit fans hard.

We have gone from 27,000 season ticket holders in the first year in League 1 to 12000 this season. Even the most diehard fan in those 12,000 must be thinking like me, is it worth it ?

Covid has seen many lose their jobs or their income dramatically cut. Why be taken for granted and be seen as a cash cow for a very poor product run by people you despise.

I think Donald has slashed his asking price for the club because he knows those 12,000 season tickets this season maybe less than 5000 next season and he hasn’t got the money to support the club , if he ever has had the money .

I hope the new owner sees how badly Donald, Methven and Sartori have run the club after their one season gamble failed and gets rid of them quickly .

I haven’t enjoyed writing this and hope I am totally wrong, but the future doesn’t look great.

Paul Williamson

Ed’s Note [Martin]: It’s fairly glum at present, and it’s difficult to see light at the end of the tunnel. Regarding the COVID impact on season cards, I agree it was handled poorly – season card holders should be rewarded not punished – however, I don’t think it’s a situation unique to Sunderland, unfortunately. Clubs across the country have struggled to figure out what to do, and some have handled it better than others.

It’s undeniable Donald and co have failed and failed badly – the club’s being run into the ground and over the past 18 months it’s been left to stagnate as a buyer has been sought. To be honest, I don’t think he has lowered his asking price – you may be giving him undue credit there.

Hopefully, the takeover will get rubber-stamped soon, and we can at least see a possible path forward, however, given Sartori, Donald and Methven are rumoured to be keeping a stake it won’t be as simple as Dreyfus getting rid of them.

The harsh reality is we have absolutely no divine right to be anywhere – we’re in League One because we deserve it – and there’s absolutely no guarantee we’ll go up. The longer we’re down here, the harder promotion becomes.

We’re at the point where we need to rip it up and start again – hopefully under the new ownership and the backroom appointments that are being made, a sustainable way of operating successfully in the long term can be established. If not, there’s not going to be much left.

Sunderland v AFC Wimbledon - Sky Bet League One
The signing of Grigg - an expensive symbol of Donald’s failure
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I read your ‘Leave or Remain’ article and I’m afraid I don’t agree with all of your decisions, which is why I have made my own list:

Lee Burge

He hasn’t exactly been amazing for us, a few mixed performances here and there, but overall he’s been a reliable No. 1 and has done a much better job than I expected at filling the shoes of Jon McLaughlin. I believe it would be the wrong decision to release him.

Verdict: New contract

Remi Matthews

This on the other hand, you’ve got spot on. He’s made a few errors and hasn’t seemed to have settled into the team very well. With Anthony Patterson knocking on the door I believe Matthews isn’t required.

Verdict: Release

Anthony Patterson

Cannot afford to lose him. Such a talent. From what I have seen of him he seems comfortable with the ball and is a top class shot stopper. I agree with you that he should be sent out on loan for the remainder of the season to gain some important first team experience. Next year I’d put Patterson in charge of Cup games as I think he’ll be ready for first team football by then. Keep at all costs.

Verdict: New long term contract

Luke O’Nien

Very important player who is thriving at right-wing back. He’s very dangerous on the ball and is a very attack minded player. Maybe you’re right, maybe it is time he is moved into midfield at the expense of Max Power but not in the way that you think.

Verdict: Should be rewarded with a new long term contract.

Conor McLaughlin

This, however, is a tricky one. I’m really not sure about the necessity of McLaughlin in the squad. In my opinion he’s not a member of the starting XI, he’s more of a squad player. He hasn’t overly impressed me but hasn’t done anything to make me think he’s a bad player either.

Verdict: Reliable cover but not the end of the world if he leaves.

Jordan Willis

Injuries have been a huge problem for Willis since his move to Wearside but on the pitch he’s a brick wall. What a player, no one is getting past him. Great control over the ball and a top class tackler. I think he is a very important player. Would be a huge mistake to let him leave.

Verdict: New contract

Brandon Taylor

Taylor is, in my opinion, very hard done by. The reason he hasn’t been great when playing for the first team is due to the fact that he is in and out of it. One week he is starting in the cup, the next, he’s not even on the subs bench. How is he meant to settle into the team?

Verdict: Offer new contract and send him out on loan to gain some valuable first team experience.

Denver Hume

I rate him highly, very dangerous on the attack and great at tracking back and recovering the ball. I agree that his final ball delivery hasn’t been up to scratch. That’s something he’ll need to continuously work on if he is to nail down a first team place. He’s Sunderland born and bred and his passion, desire and hunger for the club and success is something that I love to see.

Verdict: New long term deal.

Callum McFadzean

McFadzean’s injuries have halted any progress. I haven’t seen enough of him to have an opinion on him.

Verdict: Needs to play more if he wants to earn a new deal.

Dion Sanderson

Has seemed to have had a positive impact in matches which he has participated in but is unlikely to return for a second successive loan.

Verdict: Return to Wolves, might not be a big loss anyway when Xhemajli returns from injury.

Max Power

I was almost offended by your ‘Leave’ decision. He has the most passion and desire that I have seen in any player in years. Without passion, without desire, you’ve got nothing. The determination he has when he goes in for a tackle is amazing. I understand he got three red cards in his first season with us but the third red card was rescinded. And also we shouldn’t be judging him on what he did two years ago, we should be judging him based on his performance this year. Since his move to right-back I think that his performance has improved significantly.

Verdict: Reward commitment and passion with a new contract.

Josh Scowen

It seems as though he never runs out of energy and wants to cover every blade of grass. Always seems dangerous. Perhaps would be more suited to a CM role as opposed to his current (when he plays) CAM role.

Verdict: Offer a new contract

Grant Leadbitter

His love and loyalty to the club is admirable. The fact that he played in the play-off game the day after his Mam passed on was incredible. He’s a leader, club captain and is someone who the younger lads look up to. Looks calm with the ball at is feet and isn’t afraid to make a tackle, or two, or 10.

Verdict:New 1 year contract, possibly part-time coaching responsibilities

Elliot Embleton

Definitely a player who we should be looking to build our team around. Very skilful player but injuries have really scuppered his chances of nailing down a first team place. Should be sent on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

Verdict: New long term deal

Chris Maguire

Good player who I rate very highly, as do most SAFC supporters, but has never really taken League One by storm and with the emergence of Jack Diamond I believe that his presence at the Stadium of Light is no longer required.

Verdict: Release

Aiden McGeady

Obviously I want him to stay. Even at 34 he can still do the business. I can’t see him extending his stay with us, and even if we were to offer him a new deal it would likely be on significantly less money which he probably wouldn’t accept. He’s been a great player for SAFC for the past three-and-a-bit years and I’d love to see him stay but...

Verdict: Release

Jack Diamond

Has been amazing in all of the games he has featured in and is someone who we should be looking to build the team around. His lightning fast pace is too much for opponents to handle. Contract negotiations should open ASAP.

Verdict: Offer new long term contract

Charlie Wyke

If you’d asked me 6 weeks ago I’d definitely have said ‘Leave’ but after the last few games I’m really not sure. I’m hoping it’s the start of a scoring run but if it was just a faze and he goes back to the way he has for the last 2 years then...

Verdict: New contract (if current former continues)

Danny Graham

Well, I mean...

Verdict: Release

Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka

Great scoring record with the u23’s, a goal involvement of 1.25 per match. Should spend the rest of the season with u23’s and cup games. Next year join up with the first team full time.

Verdict: New long term contract

Malachi Donnelly

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for taking the time to put this together and share your thoughts, Malachi. Glad the article stirred up a bit of debate – it’s a game of opinions as they say.

For what it’s worth, there’s probably Willis, O’Nien, Embleton, Diamond, Patterson, Hume and Kimpioka on that list who’d I’d be disappointed about leaving. The core of the players there have had a couple of chances of getting us up, and look to be failing their third chance too. I’d have no confidence they’d suddenly become good enough for next season.

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