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Fan Letters: Sunderland’s team sheet debacle shows ‘incompetence on a grand scale,’ says Peter

The fall out from Tuesday night continues, with everyone coming under scrutiny. Got something to get off your chest? Email

Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Sunderland’s poor form... It has been bad for years. When in the Premier League, we had a problem of always passing the ball back. Against one team we had a free kick at the side of their box and it went all the way back to the goalkeeper.

When Moyes was coach I told him we would go down. I sometimes watch the game on my computer and sometimes listen on the radio. A regular message from the commentator is the opposition is sprinting Sunderland are walking. I told Moyes to send the team to Bobby Charlton’s school of football (my favourite player of all time, who is now in poor health).

We have had most of the play but are unable to score and if we take the lead can’t keep it.

Sometimes we draw and sometimes we lose. If the players are so lazy or can’t do the job get rid of them. Why put in a sub goalkeeper when the first keeper is playing well?

Kenneth Robertson

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for your email, Kenneth. We just don’t seem ‘at it’ do we? I was watching some highlights of the Championship-winning season under Mick McCarthy yesterday, and the pace, movement and attacking intent of that compared to what we’re seeing at present was incredible. It’s like we’re playing a different sport.

Sunderland v Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League One
Why drop Burge, asks Kenneth.
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

As one of our many thousands of long-suffering supporters I believe that instead of continually complaining about our situation we have to look at where we are in relation to our assets and make an honest and unbiased assessment so here goes:

Supporters: Premier League standard

Facilities: Premier League standard

Current Owners: Non-league standard

Manager: League One standard

Coaching Staff: League One standard

Playing Staff: League One standard

Looking at our assets in this way you have to come to the conclusion that our current position in League One, as a slightly better than average League One side, is a pretty true reflection of our managerial and playing assets.

That is why we are placing our hope in new owners to bring better management and an improvement in playing staff to elevate these assets to the level of our supporters and facilities.

Chris Gibbon

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Agree with your assessment Chris, although I know little about our coaches in a day-to-day sense, so it’s a presumption that they’re the same calibre as the manager. The fact your assessment is correct, however, is the problem. We might have a League One team, but we should never accept we’re a League One club. Because if we do we’ll be here for ever. We need better, and fast. Hopefully, the new owners (once given the approval to finalise the deal) will deliver. They need to.

Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
A League One manager?
Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Living 12,000 miles away doesn’t make it any less frustrating to be a Sunderland supporter. We are being reduced to a laughing stock, some would say we are already there, courtesy of Mr. Donald and his cronies.

Last night’s debacle with the team sheet lets the rest of the country see what we already suspected ie. incompetance on a grand scale.

Then there’s the manager who speaks well but we need much more, certainly in team selection.

Goalkeepers: we don’t have one, echoes of Camp.

Fullbacks: we don’t have any.

Centrebacks: most are injured. Willis has had injuries for most of the season but rather than give him sufficient time to recover by playing Sanderson (Premier League player) manager brings Willis back too soon and he lasts five minutes and is possibly gone for the season. Very short-sighted decision.

Midfield: Too old, too pedestrian and happy to pass sideways or backwards rather than forward. Opposition will let them do that all day. No threat there!

Strikers: Wyke finally getting some goals, Grigg a complete waste of space but both of them were injured when we first signed them and took an age to get fit and on the park.

Who vets these players and approves the final deal?

Jack Ross rated Luke O’Nien as the best finisher in his squad but I don’t think I’ve ever seen him played in the hole behind the striker.

Finally, Lee Johnson is starting to feel the pressure and the magnitude of the position and it’s not for the faint-hearted!

Have a little faith in some of the local younger lads. At least they will put in a shift for the shirt and the club which some of the senior players seem to be finding much too difficult or requiring too much effort. ie, sweat!

A week down the pit, or in the shipyard, might focus their attention.

Fast cars... luxury!


Peter Worthy

PS: I wish we could pay the players what they are worth and not what their contract requires.

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks Peter, and as someone who lives a similar distance away from the SOL at present I can confirm that distance doesn’t make it any easier. The teamsheet mess up just summed up everything that’s been happening at the club over recent years. Rank amateur. There’s obviously a plan ready to put in place once the takeover is confirmed, but until then it seems like we’re somewhat treading water.

I agree with your assessment of the players – and it was clear on STID that no one was really doing their homework or assessing the players – however, I still maintain this squad, managed and organised correctly, is capable of competing for a place in the top two or three. It’s easy to go overboard after the performance and result the other day, however we’ve still lost the fewest games of anyone in the league this season. It’s the draws that are holding us back, and Johnson seems to be struggling with that one even more than Parky did.

Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Is it a Steele? Is it a Camp? No, it’s a Matthews
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’m a Sunderland supporter who lives down in Weston-Super-Mare and when Lee Johnson was the Bristol City manager he was completely out of his depth tactically. He is a small time club manager at best. I was so disappointed when a huge club like ours went for what is such a desperate choice,

Adrian Smethem

Ed’s Note [Martin]: I was underwhelmed by the appointment Adrian, mainly because I knew little about him and he’d not achieved anything of note. We’ve gone down the route of ‘proven’ managers before. In fact, three of the most experienced and successful – Moyes, Wilkinson, McMenemy – were our worst. So track record isn’t everything.

As a young manager, he’s going to be learning all the time, so hopefully he is doing so. It’d be nice to have a manager on an upward trajectory. He’s obviously said the right things in the interview process, and his approach matches what the club want longer term.

However, he’s not made anything approaching a decent start, he’s been highly disappointing in many aspects. But we have to stick with him for the medium to long term – he’s been selected by the new Sporting Director and Speakman’s approaching this as a long-term project. So Johnson will get another year at the very least, and we all just need to hope we start seeing some positive signs, because since his appointment they’ve been few and far between.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Adrian says Johnson is out of his depth tactically
Photo by Andrew Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Well we just get worse and worse as per usual.

Unfortunately, embarrassment is about the only consistency we have at the moment.

With regards to salary cap relaxation would anybody trust Lee Johnson with money?

He has emphasised and highlighted the need to get the basics right. Well, if you cannot get the TEAMSHEET right that scares me with regards to giving him money to spend.

The new owner and us fans I’m afraid might sadly just have to write this season off because the players we already have and the ones Johnson has signed are nowhere near the standard required. And if anyone wants to defend them just look at where we are!!!!!!!!!!!

The worst ever period in the history of SAFC.

Hopefully our new owner has the vision and funds and know how to get a proven worthwhile management team capable of having some decent contacts in the Football world and getting some decent – at least championship standard – players not the nationwide standards we have at the moment.

As I have said from day one this manager is a lower league manager just like the last two, with limited contacts and know how on getting the required skilled players and management personnel to drag Sunderland AFC from what is, as I have stated, our worst ever period in our entire history.

It has to change but I fear not with the management and players we currently have.

Keep safe,

William and Jarvis

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for the email William and Jarvis. It absolutely is the worst ever period in our history. Who knows who was to blame for the teamsheet debacle, all that I know is it just shows how amateur we are at present.

The thing that frustrates me with Johnson is that he took over a solid yet dull team that needed to be given a bit more licence to attack, and he’s ripped it up and started again. It’s almost like he’s been told this season doesn’t matter.

We need to see improvement and soon if we’ve got any chance of going up this season – I think it’s still possible. Hopefully, Tuesday’s game will be the kick up the arse they all need. The honeymoon period is over – time to get some results.

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