Dear Roker Report,
I’m emailing on the back of recent correspondence and criticism of certain players by a small but vocal section of our ‘support’. I’m thinking particularly of being at the Sheffield Wednesday game and the berating (understatement) that some people near me were dishing out to Thorben Hoffman and more notably, Luke O’Nien.
I can’t really describe my joy at how these two players shoved/rammed the vitriolic words of those morons down their throats after their performances against Ipswich, I really hope the perpetrators of that abuse shit an extremely painful lexicon.
Firstly, we’ve got Hoffman. A young lad who’s new to consistent first-team football at this level (the English 3rd tier being higher in skill level and competitiveness to the German) and living in a new country. He needs our encouragement and faith in him to build him up and keep his confidence high when the going gets tough as it recently did. What he doesn’t need is abuse.
When he pulled off that triple save (yeah I’m including that last one to embellish my point) I felt like it showed the fight the team had throughout the match, it set a standard of determination and to me, it was a poignant kick in the balls to the 60 odd-year-old coked-up prat that was the loudest and angriest at Sheffield (yeah, you in the lower tier to the left-hand side looking out towards the pitch….you know who you are).
We’ve got a great goalkeeper in the making to follow a long history of the great keepers I’ve seen here in my time from Chris Turner to Jordan Pickford. Please don’t try and ruin the lad before he’s barely started.
Now on to my favourite player, Luke O’Nien. OK, he might not be the most skillful in the squad (although he’s not as bad as some would have you believe; he pings the odd 40-50 yarder on either foot with accuracy and chips in with a goal every now and then (see Ipswich)), but he is definitely the most enthusiastic, he grafts his knackers off, puts his body on the line, plays wherever is needed for the club and is currently playing with a shoulder that pops more than rice crispies…..if you’ve never had a shoulder injury, then let me tell you, the debilitating feeling of pain is like getting kicked in the scrotum and he’s playing through that week in week out to help the team.
To me, he is the epitome of a team player. Someone to be relied upon and who will do his utmost to be a help to and to be a benefit for, his mates. I’m so pleased he signed a new contract in the summer and that he’s one of us. When his 85th-minute header flopped into the Ipswich goal, it felt to me as though he’d burst the net I was so chuffed for him. Again, Mr ‘You Know Who You Are’, stick that, you miserable git.
Glad that’s off my chest. Going to go and pray now that I’ve not cursed either player and that they don’t have crap game for the next few weeks…..but even if they did, I’d forgive them. The love is there.
Roll on Tuesday.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thanks for writing in, Geoff. Schadenfreude - especially when it’s linked to a Sunderland win - is a wonderful feeling. Like you, I will enjoy it while it lasts.
Dear Roker Report,
The only way you find out if a young player is good enough is if you give them a chance.
Play Tyrese Dyce left wing-back and see how he fares. I’ve been impressed this season with him in the glimpses I’ve had.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Cheers for your letter, Gary. I certainly think that Dyce is worth a go in the first team. Like you, I’ve only seen a little bit of him in action but it seems like there’s a player in there. We’ve got to give the kids a shot when the injuries start to pile up, and I guess we will see the youngster on the bench this evening.
Dear Roker Report,
Is traveling a bit too taxing on our players? I saw how travel affects the athletes and maybe this affects their performance as well. I dug a bit into how much traveling the players do & it’s quite surprising.
Do you think that we’re not seeing them perform at their very best due to jet lag?
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Hi Joy. Our players do have to travel a little further over the course of a season than those of clubs based in the midlands, perhaps, but to be frank, the difference is surely pretty marginal. It works both ways - Gillingham and Plymouth have a long journey up to the northeast too and we have resources that allow the squad to fly to some of the more far-flung away days. Yes, we also have a number of players who are going away on international duty and this takes its toll - but I don’t think jetlag is a huge factor when travelling within Europe.
Overall, it’s an unavoidable fact of geography - this has been our lot since we were the first team elected into the Football League and the existing teams demanded (but never received) travel expenses to compensate them for having to get up to Wearside by train.