Dear Roker Report,
Let me say from the outset that I never thought Lee Johnson was the right choice as manager, but I have hoped to be proved wrong by the man. Roker Report often leaps to his defence, arguing that he has enough credit in the bank to turn things around based on his start to the season.
Unfortunately, this is being very selective with the facts and his tenure at Sunderland so far. It is also often claimed that sacking the manager would just mean starting again. It wouldn’t. The complete fiasco at Shrewsbury convinces me that now is the time for KLD to act and sack Streaky.
There are a number of reasons for this conclusion:
1. Johnson came to us with the nickname ‘Streaky’ and it wasn’t due to his love of bacon! The streaky results we’re seeing at Sunderland have been a feature of his entire managerial career. Clearly, he isn’t learning. We can see this even if we just look at his time at Sunderland.
Last season we had a great run, followed by a total collapse. This season, we started with a great run and now we have the inevitable total collapse. He will get us on another winning run if he stays, but that will collapse again towards the end of the season. This is simply who he is as a manager.
2. Sunderland have rightly decided to adopt a particular style of play as the ‘Sunderland way’ and then recruit everyone to match that tactical approach. This is apparently the high pressing game and we started the season that way with tremendous success, yet Streaky is not sticking to that approach.
Instead, he’s reverting to type and we’re suffering as a result. That is clearly down to the manager not following the path the club wants to take.
3. If the high pressing game is going to be the ‘Sunderland way’, changing manager will not change that at all, as long as we recruit a manager who is capable of coaching the team in that style effectively.
The whole point of this new approach is that changing personnel doesn’t mean you have to go back to the drawing board, you just recruit someone better able to do what you want. This whole claim that sacking Streaky means we write off the season and have to start again is utter rubbish.
We need some choice additions in January, but fundamentally our recruitment has been excellent and we have some very talented players as well as a style of play we all want to see, we just need a manager who can actually coach them properly.
4. Isn’t it remarkable that we put our team together very late in the transfer window and we were all worried that Streaky wouldn’t have time to instill his ideas, yet they hit the ground running and we looked completely unbeatable.
How much better could it be once Streaky had time to coach the team? Well, now we have our answer! Streaky has had time to coach these players and instill his ideas and the result is that the same team that looked like Brazil at the start of the season is lucky to get away with a draw against a Shrewsbury team who are fighting relegation and playing with ten men!
I think more than anything else, this is the most damning indictment of Streaky as manager. The more he has coached the team, the worse we have become.
I am fully supportive of the vision KLD has for the club. I want to see this ‘high press’ style of play, I want to invest in a youthful team we can develop, and I don’t think we need to spend loads of money on headline players to succeed, but we DO need to invest money in getting a top-drawer manager because that is where we can’t cut corners.
If this is to work properly, we need to invest in the people who can make it work and that isn’t Streaky - it never was. He has to go and the sooner the better.
Ed’s Note [Chris]: Cheers for the email Andrew. In terms of Roker Report leaping to his defence, as writers for RR we can all express any opinion so we don’t defend him as a collective, what you read/hear will always be that of the individual.
As for my feelings on Lee Johnson, he wasn’t my first choice when he came and I’m sure he’d be the first to admit that the jury is still out on his tenure as manager of the club. But, despite this, I still think it’s too early to consider pulling the trigger.
In the summer we saw the first step in turning our squad around, and as we’re approaching the halfway point, we’re not in a bad position, not great, but certainly not a position that would justify sacking the manager.
The “Streaky” tag might not be a coincidence but it may be down to generally managing young squads who are in general less consistent or could be down to his style of management - either way he could do with getting on another good run that starts as soon as possible.
Dear Roker Report,
A team aspiring for promotion should have finished off a ten-man Shrewsbury without much ado. So, what went wrong?
Sunderland worked hard, no shortage of perspiration but a lack of inspiration.
We will never get promotion with our present head coach because he lacks inspiration - he knows how to get the players to work hard but that is not enough. We have seen that most of the players in this league work hard so promotion is secured by having something more. I have heard the word “mediocre” mentioned about Lee, who is really a nice guy.
Mediocre means no promotion, so a change is required.
Ed’s Note [Chris]: The second half at Shrewsbury was frustrating, but we’ve seen those games before where we didn’t have enough to break down a team who defended on the edge of the box, and I’m sure we’ll see it again. I’d have taken the position we’re in now at the beginning of the season going into a busy December, but we need to kick on now.
Dear Roker Report,
I have always been prepared to give LJ a good crack of the whip to get things right, however too many performances over the last few months have shown he is out of his depth. We had a great start to the season then teams found our weak spot, since then we have not recovered and LJ does not have the answers.
I can’t bare to listen to him spin positives from dire performances game after game, I have been a season ticket holder for over 30 years but until he is gone, my card will be staying in my wallet and I will not be back at the SoL.
I feel we have players at the club who think they are better than they are, when in fact they are not strong enough mentally or physically. They have no real pace and lack a real captain and driver of the team, we need a Kevin Ball or a Catts when they were in their prime. We are a soft touch. Another League One campaign awaits us in 2022/23.
Ed’s Note [Chris]: We had a cracking start to the season with a much younger squad than last year with the new approach of investing in younger players to progress with the club and at some point we were always likely to hit a dip in form.
Taking Willis and Xhemajli out of the equation gives us a squad of 21 senior players where around 7 of those are playing in the first full season on senior football - it was unlikely our early season form was going to last 46 games and it’s a first test for Lee Johnson with this new squad to get us back on track.
December is a busy month and I’m sure we’ll have a better picture of where are going into the January transfer window.
Dear Roker Report,
I would want to ask Lee Johnson why does he keep bringing defenders on when we are in the lead by one or two goals.
It has been a disaster. Look at data we sit on the edge of our box for last 20 minutes like at Accrington and Fleetwood, our defensive record is poor no matter who he plays in defence, so God knows why he thinks we can win games by doing this.
The final straw was taking Prichard off who looked to be our best player and yes brings a defender on the rest is history.
Ed’s Note [Chris]: Early in the season it was Bailey Wright who seemed to always come on as sub and at Shrewsbury it was odd bringing Alex Pritchard off for Corry Evans when we were looking for a goal as well.
On the flip side, I think his changes in personnel and shape helped us be more positive against Ipswich last weekend, so in some ways I like that he is pro-active when things aren’t going our way, but I just hope he gets more right than wrong before the season is done.
Dear Roker Report,
Never going to get out of this league with Johnson in charge, I am starting to believe what Paddy Kenny said about him. No ideas, play-offs at best, just not good enough, get rid now.
Ed’s Note [Chris]: We’re almost halfway through the season and we’re doing okay, not great as I said earlier but we are one of about ten sides looking to gain promotion this year and we have a great chance of going up. Time will tell how we quickly we pick up form again and get back on a good run.
Dear Roker Report,
Having read lots of social media reports and comments, and the fact that these are noted by the players, and affect the way they play, well, I hope you do read these comments.
Basically, it’s time for Mr Dreyfus to wield the axe, and get rid. It’s obvious that the current manager and most of the players are not good enough. Mistakes have been made with recruitment over a long period, unfortunately, some still remain.
You can’t improve with using failed, crocked, injury-prone discards, and more importantly, ‘doing it on the cheap’.
KLD, has had time to evaluate the current stock within the club, serious investment is now required, buy better players, and a tactically proven manager, who can lead the team to higher levels. This current manager and players will get us nowhere, enough is enough.
Ed’s Note [Chris]: A lot of people said that at the end of last season and we did just that. We now have a much younger squad that is probably one or two short in terms of numbers, but we started again and the summer was just the first window in doing that.
I’m not sure what ripping that up at the first sign of trouble would achieve other than another period of instability and turmoil while we try and build again, just a few months after the last time we did that.
I think our younger squad is doing okay, and there’s plenty of time left this season and they could do with us getting behind them so they can get back on track.