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Fan Letters: ‘Let LJ get on with his job’... ‘LJ is incapable of delivering anything other than failure’

In, out, in out... woah the Johnson Hokey Cokey!

Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I think we should let Johnson get on with his job – I think he will turn it round. Every team has a bad spell in the season. If not has changed by January then I would think about changing the manager.

Colin Lee Anderson

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for the email and I agree completely – the next month or so will determine his fate. I’d prefer to see if Johnson can turn this around rather than sacking him and hoping someone else can do so. I believe as a club we need stability and consistency, and I’m hopeful we’ll be better off for riding our this bad run of form.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Hi, here is my pennyworth.

LJ is are very poor manager for the following reasons:

• In last year’s play offs he subbed Stewart for a defender with 10 min to go we needed to score

• Wrong tactic against Charlton – losing with 10 minutes left takes off creator for a defender

• He always seems to want to defend a 1 or 2-0 lead and we are all on the edge of our seats games inc Accrington, Fleetwood plus a couple more, which draws his entire team into the penalty area and invites pressure with no plan b and no outlet for us to clear the ball to.

Surely leave some in the centre circle they would have to leave may be two players back so that’s two less who could not score and provide an outlet.

Opposition teams now know if they push on in our faces LJ seems lost and finally to pull Dan Neil off at half time at 19 years old – how to drain confidence! Very poor man management – he always blames ref team men not strong enough or now its the media

Well got that off my chest, thanks!

Roger Stokell

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for the email Roger. I think you can pick holes in every manager’s decisions and you can also put some reasoning towards most decisions (apart from Peter Reid deploying David Kelly on the right hand of midfield for a season!). Managers make decisions and if they come off they’re geniuses, and if they don’t work they’ll get criticism. From memory, Stewart had just come back from an injury, and that semi-final sub was probably to do with fitness.

I do agree with leaving people up when we’re defending - it’s always seemed illogical to me – surely, if you leave one or two up when defending corners and free kicks it reduces congestion in the box and provides an outlet for a counter?

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Ross Stewart’s substitution against Lincoln still rankles with Roger
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Sick of seeing all this sack the manager crap so I’ve decided to ask a question to lighten the mood.

When i was little, my grandad used to sit me on his knee in front of the fire and tell me stories... most were about when he saw an alien or ghost among some other crap but there’s one that stuck in my head about Charlie Hurley.

He said... I saw Charlie Hurley take a penalty that smashed the net at Roker Park... he reckons that the ball was on the spot and the king himself ran from our box and without breaking stride smashed it through the net and into the crowd behind...

So did this really happen or was it another one of his far fetched yarns?

Paul Robinson

Ed’s Note [Martin]: That certainly beats a ghost story Paul! I don’t know the answer to that one mate, but hopefully one of our readers will...! Charlie Hurley didn’t score a pen for us according to Stat Cat, so maybe it was in a friendly game?

Soccer - English League - Chelsea v Sunderland
Have you heard the one about Charlie Hurley’s penalty?
Photo by Don Morley/EMPICS via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Our problem isn’t in continually sacking hapless managers, its our continual appointment of hapless managers, that predictably and continually fail, which is the problem.

We are trapped, like a bad Star Trek episode, in a time warp cycle of repeated failure here for several years now. Ever since Grayson and right up to and including Johnson.

Appoint badly, spend nowt, fail badly, sack and repeat.

Until our new owners show some real ambition and financial investment in player recruitment and look to appoint a manager capable of delivering promotion from League One – although its not just about money – who is then capable of building and establishing a championship team, we are league one indefinitely.

Johnson is incapable of delivering anything other than another depressing failure here, no matter how much vocal support, KTF or STID backing he gets.

Dreyfus has spent less than Stewart Donald, who was a terrible owner alongside his slimy sidekick and just using their catastrophic blueprint of how not to run a football club isn’t going to get us back to the championship ever either.

A radical rethink is required because a recruitment plan consisting of free or loaned inexperienced kids, no matter their potential, free crocked no bodies and absolutely zero physical strength is a tried and failed one every day of the week. Especially at this level.

Johnson’s revelations this week that no one expected much this season is both worrying and eye opening. Obviously he’s under no pressure from the owner to get us promoted this season and the cheap and cheerful running of club must suit them fine.

Has Dreyfus actually got a pot to piss in, or is all his supposed wealth down to his family not him? Are we just a play thing to keep him out of mischief for a few years but comes with zero financial input?

I’d have expected and hoped for at least three or four key signings last summer to give us a chance to kick on but it never came. I expected the manager to have one single remit and that was hit the ground running and stay top 2 with no excuses.

I expected the manager to be under massive pressure to deliver after two transfer windows and a full summer to prepare, plot and plan for this campaign. He’s under no pressure at all internally and that blatantly obvious.

Where is Kyril? Where is his puppet Speakman? Where is anyone from the ownership team right now?

The answer is playing hide and seek to a world championship standard.

The squad is woefully understaffed and the inexperienced kids wilting under the demands of a club that attracts 30,000 home gates and takes 7000 away in 3 days to away fixtures.

That kind of support quite rightly demands certain rewards and they don’t include getting thrashed and humiliated in League One.

Unless the mindset changes from the ownership team, nothing will ever change here for certain.

Johnson is hampered by this lack of investment but he too is not blameless. He’s a bog standard poor coach who talks the best game I’ve ever heard (even if it is mostly utter nonsense) but doesn’t walk the walk.

He bottled last season when automatic promotion was in our grasp, with these magic games in hand (that mean bugger all tbh) but didn’t even make the Play Off Final.

He’ll bottle this season too, of that I have absolutely no doubts whatsoever. I’m all for giving a manager time to build and develop something great here but it has to be the right manager and there has to be progress along the way.

We are merely clinging to a top six place now and look about as close to challenging a top two place as I am to banging Jennifer Aniston this weekend.

That’s not progress it’s stagnation – and anyone not concerned about where the club is right now is living more in hope than expectation.

Kevin Twinn, Chester le Street

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for your email Kevin – there are a few points to unpick there. When KLD came in he talked about building the club back up from the bottom, to stop the asset stripping, to put the academy at the centre of the strategy and to make the club sustainable. That’s the polar opposite approach of his predecessors. You look at our managers over recent seasons and probably the worst of them – David Moyes – is working wonders at West Ham now, so it’s obviously not as simplistic as appointing the wrong people (For what it’s worth, I thought Moyes was a superb appointment, was very happy with Chris Coleman and Jack Ross, thought Grayson and Parkinson were terrible appointments, and was completely underwhelmed by Johnson.)

Results ultimately determine how we judge progress at the club, but the results aren’t an indication of all of the other off-field work that continues to go in – building recruitment teams, the academy etc etc. You say Johnson’s remit should have been to hit the ground running – we did. We’ve fallen off a cliff for some reason over the past three league games, but that’s it – it’s 6% of the total season. We’ve done very well in the the majority of games prior to that.

We need to turn it around and quickly, and I made the point in our podcast earlier in the week that with the current set up, Johnson is probably the most easily interchangeable manager we’ve had, because the head coach role is just one of a number in the football department running the club. However, when can you honestly say we’ve got better after getting rid of a manager over recent seasons? We’re going back to Big Sam, aren’t we?

I was really surprised by his comments regarding expectations however, and I don’t understand where that’s come from. Promotion has to be the one and only expectation.

In reality, if results don’t pick up pretty soon he’ll be replaced, but I’m sure all of us hope that results pick up and we’re firmly back in the top two very, very soon. The easy bit is sacking him – the difficulty, as you’ve identified, is picking the right person who’s going to do noticeably better.

PS, Is there a good Star Trek episode?!

New Sunderland Manager Press Conference
It would be a good time to hear from Kristjaan Speakman
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Hello lads, following our rant on Lee Johnson and we said he should be nowhere near SAFC I’m reading fans comments and one lad says we can’t be changing manager every week and we 100% agree.

But at 62 years old all I want is a manager with clout and decent contacts to get our beloved SAFC out of the hell we are in and from day one I said Johnson is not that person cos his contacts are all in Div 3 and 4 and nationwide. And I stick by my opinion – once again he is a south west england journeyman lower league unsuccessful so called professional football club manager.

Any of my fellow lovers of SAFC who would like to give me some stats to prove he is the man for the job i await your evidence.

Last season he went above my expectations and about 12 games from the end of the season all he had to do was carry on as he was doing but he tinkered and dithered and we stayed in div 3.

Please get rid of the red n white tinted glasses and beg our owner to get someone in to get us up cos Johnson isn’t the man.

Really hope he makes me eat my words but i wont hold my breath.

He talks the talk but his talk is b******s

Jarvis n William

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Nice to hear from your Jarvis and William. I think you’re doing Johnson a disservice as he’s managed more in the Championship than in League One, and he’s managed in Lancashire and Yorkshire, too – he did a good job at Bristol, who’ve gone backwards since he left. Ultimately, before the Charlton game everyone was very happy with the job he was doing. We’ve lost three games we should have got points from, and hopefully he turns it around soon. If he doesn’t then he won’t be here – simple as that! We’ve sacked managers around this time often, and the last two times we’ve done it it’s not reaped the reward we wanted... there’s nothing to say anything would be different if we tried it again.

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