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Fan Letters: LJ’s coming under scrutiny from some fans, & is it the club’s fault that Grigg failed?

It’s a packed mailbag today. Got something to say? Email us:!

Sunderland v Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’ve recently read the Grigg quote about going to MK where he’s said they know that if you give him the ball in the right places he’ll put them away. The stats, apart from Sunderland, bear that out.

So can we take an honest look at ourselves and figure out if it was us? If he goes to Dons and starts banging them in again, it surely would prove there’s something wrong with our approach (as if languishing in lower tier football with a huge following and Premier League facilities weren’t enough evidence).

What do you think?

De Jay

Ed’s Note [Martin]: I think it’s a combination of factors, De Jay. I don’t think Grigg was ever a player who was going to fit into the way we played under Ross (or Parkinson), and I don’t think he ever got a really fair crack of the whip in terms of playing week in week out. That said, his attitude, body language etc has all seemed off from the start. He never gave off the impression he wanted to be here, and I believe he never moved up to the north easy permanently, which tells you lots. Hopefully he scores a load for MK Dons – it’s the only chance we have of getting money for him.

Sunderland v AFC Wimbledon - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

What was the point in changing the Sunderland manager as it is a complete like for like. Our club is making no progress and not likely to do with team selections and the manager’s thinking. We are getting further apart from the leading clubs in the division. This club and its faithful supporters deserve so much better so let’s hope the new owners see the light and install someone who knows what they are doing.

Terry Burton

Ed’s Note [Martin]: While Johnson’s start in terms of results hasn’t been what we’d have hoped for, I disagree with you completely Terry. He’s a world apart from Phil Parkinson in terms of approach, however he’s not a miracle worker and he needs time to build his own team that can play the way he wants. The appointment of Johnson is a long-term one, and we need to stick with him. The reason we are where we are is the constant chopping and changing of manager – one person leaves having signed so many players, the next one comes in, doesn’t fancy half of them and is stuck. Rinse and repeat. Let’s just give this fella time to try and build something. He’s getting a song out of Charlie Wyke, so he’s got to be doing something right!

Milton Keynes Dons v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Was there really much point in changing managers?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’m an old codger, one of those who for years went to Roker one week and St James the next. At one time, there were quite a few like me.

What appals me about all football clubs is the arrogance of the so called football people in charge. They know best. They choose to ignore fans views and opinions. This applies on Tyne and Wear.

Over the years, stupidly, I have recommended players to SAFC. When Reid was in charge, I suggested they should sign van Persie, Robben, Midu, Chivu, van der Meyde and Emmerton. All kids at the time. Flo and Stewart arrived, along with a nice letter from Bob Murray. My season tickets went.

Since then, Maguire when he was at Aberdeen, Aluko at Aberdeen, McCormack at Motherwell, Watkins when at Exeter, and boat loads of other suggestions and recommendations which have been totally ignored. Why?

Anyway, it’s history. However if Sunderland want promotion, they should play O’Nien up front. Watch the videos of him. He’s the most Phillips like player in terms of movement I’ve seen for years.

By the way, Neil Martin was in a different class to Wyn the Leap!


Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for the email Pedro – think you’ve missed your vocation mate, need to be chief scout somewhere! I remember writing to Peter Reid recommending a a couple of players I’d seen play for Skonto Riga against Welsh club Newtown back in the day. Got a letter back from Reidy but it was never acted upon. One went by the name of Marians Pahars... would have been a decent signing.

To be fair to the club, they’ll be inundated with recommendations from all sorts of people, on top of doing their own research, but it’s a shame when you look back on what could have been.

Totally agree with you about O’Nien by the way – we discussed this on one of the podcasts a fortnight or so ago. I think he’s a natural goalscorer.

Feyenoord v ADO Den Haag - Dutch Eredivisie
van Persie could have worn a different red and white if the club had listened to Pedro!
Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I read something this morning about teams upping their game when they played Sunderland. This always seems to have been the case.

When I was a kid and went to Roker Park, the games I hated most were when we played the likes of Stoke City and Fulham in the old second division.

They did not up their game, they were just very negative. I knew that the score would probably be 0-0. Helping to keep us in that division and getting a share of our big gate suited them. When we visited them, we got a share of very little. I hated those two teams, still do.

Arthur Hogg

Ed’s Note [Martin]: You must have a long list of clubs you hate then Arthur! Although, I have to agree, Stoke at home is rarely a pleasurable affair. Teams probably do raise their game to an extent, but there’s nothing we can do about that – so we need to focus on what we can do to beat them. It’s an easy thing to say ‘they raise their game’. So what? We need to play better, score more and take matters into our own hands. Hopefully we can do that sooner rather than later, because the higher up we go, the fewer teams there are that see coming to the SoL as a ‘cup final’.

Even when we were on the way to winning the title, Stoke at Roker Park... 0-0
Photo by Rui Vieira - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Another missed opportunity from a team that continually frustrates their supporters. We have only taken 14 points in 10 games against the bottom eight sides. It is impossible to achieve automatic promotion with that return and the players should be embarrassed at this. The management say automatic promotion is still the aim so we think 16 to 17 wins in the next 21 games are needed. Does anyone believe this is going to happen? We hope so but in reality getting prepared for the heartache of the playoffs may be on the cards.

Peter Laverick

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Play-offs is the best we can hope for Peter, unless there’s a Roy Keane-esque improvement in results. We’ve been poor this season, and the record against those teams at the bottom end of the table is appalling. However, at present, we’re only seven points off second place with a game in hand (although if Doncaster win their games in hand that gap widens). The hope comes from the number of defeats we’ve had – we’ve only lost four games all season, the fewest in the league. However we’ve drawn the most games in the division (11, compare that to league leaders Lincoln’s three). If we can turn our draws into wins (and the signings of Stewart and Jones are clearly intended to help us do that) we could very well produce a late surge up the table. Here’s hoping.

Milton Keynes Dons v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Automatic promotion’s becoming a distant aim...
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’d like to suggest you add a manager rating to the player rating reports. I suppose it should then be called a team rating.

We all have opinions about team selection, which subs to bring on and when, line up and strategy, so why not rate the manager? He’s as much a variable as the players and overall may actually be the single most influential part of the team.

Let’s face it, Sunderland manger transfer frequency is on par with that of the players.


Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for the suggestion JD. We do usually include a manager rating on the Ratings Pod which we record immediately after the game, but including it in the article we do is a good idea – I’ll suggest it on your behalf!

Sunderland v Gillingham - Sky Bet League One
What would you give him out of 10?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Same old same old. If they think they’re getting promoted on that performance then they are in for a shock. They are a League One team, and a mediocre one at that. In my opinion they were a shambles with only a couple of decent performers. Johnson needs time but I am still of the opinion that he isn’t the man for the job. Get the takeover done and see where that takes us

Bill Harding

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Think everyone’s desperate for the takeover Bill, it’ll be great to get that done (hopefully!). The league table and results suggest you’re being overly harsh in your assessment of the team. If they were mediocre we’d be down in the bottom three or four. We’ve lost the fewest games in the league, and just need to get the attack sorted. I would be interesting to know why you think Johnson isn’t the man for the job from what you’ve seen so far. He certainly wasn’t someone I wanted, but I have seen enough positive signs so far to suggest he could be a good manager (or head coach!) for us.

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