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Lincoln City v Sunderland - Papa John’s Trophy EFL Trophy

Fan Letters: “I want to see Dan Neil play every game this season,’ says RR reader John

Our young midfielder is getting a lot of attention at the moment – and it’s important we handle his development properly.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I want to see Dan Neil play every game this season.

He is the future. If we do not handle him properly this season we risk losing him

What a player btw. Ian Danter said he reminds him of Michael Carrick - praise indeed

John in Sherburn Village

Ed’s Note [Martin]: He’s a superb prospect John, however I think handling him properly means him not playing every game this season. We saw a bit of a lull in his performances, a couple of games on the bench, and then a great game on his comeback. We need to manage him carefully, and ensure he’s at his peak for the big games in which we need him to be firing on all cylinders. Oh, and we need to get him tied down to a long-term contract. He’s a player who could go all of the way with us back to the Premier League – and how good would it be to see Dan Neil captaining the side full time in a couple of seasons?

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Papa John’s Trophy EFL Trophy
Captain Dan!
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl...

And woe betide her if she wants to drive, go out on her own, uncover her head, have a proper education, have a same sex relationship, be independent etc etc.

A bit flippant? Well... no there are no suspected instigators of state sponsored murder among our shareholders.

We are so, so lucky to be Sunderland rather than Newcastle. We have a proper footballing platform for the future and no moral skeletons on public view.

We are in League One but I feel more connected to the club than I ever did in the PL because the focus is on an honest sustainable future based on footballing talent and led by a young man who simply loves football.

Oh and those bar code team members having a pop - do they really think they will still be there next season? None of their current team of PL journeymen have the footballing quality required for their inflated ambitions. Dumb and Dummett?

Haway the lads - roll on the League One season. I’m loving it.


Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for your email, Wearfish, and completely agree. Our new owner is in it for the right reasons, he’s doing things in the right way and I believe we’ll enjoy success off the back of it. Regardless of what’s going on up the road, we can be proud of the way our club’s going about things at the moment.

Over the river, they’ve been so focused on getting rid of Ashley they’ve traded their dignity, integrity and their morals in exchange for the potential of increased success on the field. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond once the dust has settled and the reality of what they’ve begged for hits home. There’ll be so much media scrutiny on the realities of their owners’ actions, the Premier League will be under huge scrutiny about the ‘legally binding assurances’ that the PIF isn’t controlled by the state... it’ll be fun to watch.

I’m more than happy to be in our position, integrity firmly in tact.

Dear Roker Report,

For so long the transfer activity at Sunderland revolved around players looking for a last pay day, free transfers nobody else wanted or a combination of both – which just seemed like David Moyes telephone book from his 2008 Everton season!

This summer we saw a long list (as we always do) of players linked to the club only to see them sign somewhere else amidst much fanfare and comments of ‘as soon as i heard of the interest from <insert name of ‘sleeping giant’>. There was a lot of discontent amongst a fanbase fearing we were being left behind - “why hadn’t we signed anyone?” “I’d have taken him he’s better than X”, along with people who also stayed strong and tried to believe in the clubs plan and vision - difficult to do as its been very rare that the club have ever had either.

Looking at the clubs that were going to be in and around the promotion places....

Wigan: signed all the players we released as well as some quite astute signings from lower teams and seem like genuine contenders - though not convinced big Charlie’s goal return is what they were expecting.

Ipswich: struggling, a lot of their fans saying they’re taking time to gel - they’ve had the same pre-season as us but seemed to have signed the players from ‘best player at an average club’ category.

Portsmouth: the Cowleys not quite ticking all the boxes and already under pressure.

Sheff Wed: haven’t hit the ground running and may take a little while to get to where everyone thinks they should be - apart from Sheff Wed fans who dont think they’ll be at the top anyway.

Others such as Lincoln, Charlton and Wycombe aren’t at the races either so we could say – on limited info – that this summers transfer window has been a success, we’ve got balance, we have options and finally we have pace, in lots of positions!

Now the question I wanted to pose...

Will all the fans trust in the model and the structure when the inevitable happens and next summer we sell one of our good players? It’s going to happen, the model means that we sell – for example – someone like Huggins. signed for free (apart from the 15% sell on clause) and we sell him next summer when we receive a bid of £3m plus add ons up to £5m.

The club will reinvest that – with a replacement – example Josh Key from Exeter for £1.5m and the surplus we use to keep the club sustainable. This is what we know is going to happen (Huggins and Key just an example).

So how will the fans react? Will there be anarchy because we sold someone who could have continued the journey with us? Will everyone accept that this is how we operate? Brentford have made it to the PL with this model and reading about how they operated they knew they were selling Ollie Watkins, he knew he was leaving but they made Villa stay quiet, made the player stay quiet and brought in Toney for £10m before allowing Watkins to complete his move for £30m+


Ed’s Note [Martin]: The transfer window was managed excellently, Bally76. It panned out the way we thought it would, and ultimately we bided our time and got the players we wanted. The big difference is we don’t know the ‘ceiling’ of our new signings’ potential, whereas previously – and for a lot of the other clubs you mention – we know the ceiling of the players they’ve signed, and in the main it’s bottom championship at best.

The model we have will rely on developing players and selling them on, on occasion – however, I don’t think it will be as immediate as you suggest. It’ll be about selling at the player’s perceived peak for our circumstances.

For example, the benefit of potentially raking in £2.5 profit for the scenario you illustrated above probably isn’t worth it, when you consider the amount of work off the field for that to happen, the length of contract (Huggins signed a four year deal) and the unrealised potential. It won’t be a ‘take any offer that makes us a profit’ situation. Players will go, yes, but only if it makes sense in terms of the profit, potential, length of contract and cost of replacement. It’s a long-term strategy, and I think that’s how we’ll see it play out.

Sunderland v Cheltenham Town - Sky Bet League One
Huggins is one of a number of players with huge potential at SAFC
Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

With regards to Paul Dummett’s dig at Sunderland.

Does he for one moment think he will be part of Newcastles future?

He has less than a year left on his contract then its Blyth Spartans (sorry Blyth) to end his illustrious career in the game.

As a Sunderland fan I wanted Dumbest in the Newcastle team as I knew he was a liability. Useless footballer with little to no talent and comical error strewn defending guaranteed.

He will be one of the first on the Saudis’ hit list.

Enjoy the rest of your premier action (if any) as your name will be forgotten very soon!


Mackem Tony

Ed’s Note [Martin]: I didn’t realise he was still a player there to be honest Mackem Tony – he’s just a typical idiot mag playing along to the crowd. He’s always been a complete irrelevance.


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