Dear Roker Report,
Loving the podcasts and articles and loving the season we are having so far. Despite the challenges and issues of going cashless, supply problems for shirts etc., the football has been brilliant to watch and what’s great is to hear and see the bond that LJ said he wants between the team and fans forming. We have always wanted players who will give everything for the shirt, so no complaints from me so far on that score.
It was interesting to regularly read and hear about other teams raising their game against us when we first landed in League One. Sunderland was (and still is) the biggest club by far and was a scalp to take. Noted that despite how competitive this division has become with a number of clubs that have been in the top echelon, we still appear to be the one to beat. Teams raise their game against us and suffer afterwards if they get a positive result.
After beating us, Burton were stuffed by Cambridge. Portsmouth (a league trophy match aside) then get stuffed by Rotherham… and pretty much everyone else.
The Fleetwood draw then sees them draw two more and lose.
The difference with the Sunderland side now is that they seem able to deal with a loss and come roaring back or stick together and grind out a win. A totally different mindset and something we have missed.
Here’s to the great start continuing, continue to develop the youngsters and getting Dan Neil signed up on a long term contract!
Haway the lads!
Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for the kind comments Iain, greatly appreciated. Yes, there’s a lot to be positive about on the field, and without us being bigheaded I do think there’s an element of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ for a lot of the teams we face – it is the biggest game of their season, so of course they’re going to give it all. Ultimately, we can’t do anything about that! It has been really pleasing to see how we’ve responded to a defeat this season, though – we’ve bounced back immediately and that augurs well for the season.
Dear Roker Report,
There is no doubt that Sunderland’s level since the start of the season is very good – the team has had some ups and downs at times, but very good at the end of the day.
There is a huge difference from the level shown in the first part of the previous season.
But what could Sunderland change to be even more effective?
We are often tempted to throw the ball at Stewart, without a partner to whom he can then pass the ball.
Ross is such a good striker that many times he solves those situations, but as has happened in recent games, he can be crowded out and it becomes difficult for him.
What would be the solution? For me there are two options.
The first is for Embleton, Gooch, and McGeady to get back together. They’ve played some of the best football we’ve seen this season. Not only did they assist Ross, but they set the tempo for our attacking play.
In the absence of the trio, the temptation has been to throw the ball to Stewart and hope for the best.
The other option is a strike partner, as seen with O’Brien last Saturday.
The ideal partner by his style of play and his attributes would be Nathan Broadhead. The former Everton forward is not only a player who converts his chances, but also participates a lot in the game.
Beyond the injuries, we have a squad with many options, and it is LJ’s task to put the pieces in place.
As the great Cesar Luis Menotti, world champion with the Argentine national team, used to say: “the toilet in the bathroom and the refrigerator in the kitchen.” Neither more nor less than that ...
Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for your email Sebastian – it’s interesting, many people including myself were a bit critical of Gooch and McGeady earlier in the season, but their absence has shown the balance they bring to team at least. Last night Pritchard looked excellent in the number 10 role, and McGeady’s return provided some width – O’Brien too held a wider position than in previous weeks. I do agree with partnering Stewart and Broadhead up top together – Broadhead was fantastic against Cheltenham and would surely have retained his place was it not for injury.
Dear Roker Report,
One of your commentators mentioned Johnny Crossan playing at Old Trafford and running the show. I was at that match, FA cup 6th round I remember. Attendance 64,000 of whom 16,000 were our supporters. Crossan was outstanding. We were 3:1 up with four minutes to go when they got one back and Monty was flattened, then they scored again in the last minute. Crossan was inside left, not a winger as someone suggested.
We did go on to gain our first ever promotion that season.
Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for the email Robert – it’s great to read memories of games gone by – although I doubt you recall the second replay at Leeds Road with any great fondness!
Dear Roker Report,
I agree with Carl, Shaun Elliott was a great NO 5. Should have played for England no bother, brilliant footballing mind. As good as Alan Hansen of Liverpool and Scotland. Also in the same team was a hero of mine. The great Kevin Arnott. What a player and a goal scorer. I was lucky enough to have watched them play at our previous beloved home old Roker Park. Sometimes I miss the old place. The atmosphere was something else. Happy memories.
P.s There’s a 4 minute clip of Kevin’s goals on YouTube. I recommend it. Enjoy.
Ed’s Note [Martin]: Cheers Anthony – it’s the general consensus that Elliott was harshly done by in terms of international call ups. Would have loved to have seen Arnott play – he was just before my match-attending time. By all accounts he’s the sort of player who’d do very well in the current side!