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Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Papa John’s Trophy - Final 2021 - Wembley Stadium

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Fan Letters: Is it time that fans showed Luke O’Nien how much we want him to stay at Sunderland?

He’s becoming Mr Sunderland, but he’s also out of contract in the summer. As fans, can we do our bit to let Luke O’Nien know just how much we want him to stay and commit his future to the club? Email us: rokerreport@yahoo.co.uk!

Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Finally the hoodoo is broken - what a transformation from when Parky was in charge. The change in attitude around the club is amazing - well done to the lads, Lee Johnson and his staff.

Special praise has to be given to Wyke and O’Nien - they are both having a great season, and long may it continue. Since Luke arrived his attitude and commitment has been exceptional - I just wish we had signed players like that years ago.

The time to kick on and get promotion is in our hands - the confidence is high, and the feel good factor is back... hopefully this is the start of big things to come.

I know we have to back the manager and the new owner because we have twenty odd players out of contract, and there is a lot of rebuilding to do next season if we get promoted - we will need patience. It will take time because the club has been stripped to the bones by Donald, we have a young owner who seems to have tapped into the passion of the fans for this club.

After this weekend, let’s have more smiles in the future, and let’s bring the good times back to the club, but we have to back the new owner through the good and bad periods, because there will be hopefully more good than bad.

This is the first time in twenty years that we have finally got to the chance to change this club for the better - let’s grab it with both hands and who knows what the future holds.

Mark Wild

Ed’s Note [Gav]: Couldn’t agree more with you - O’Nien has really stood up to be counted recently and deserves lots of credit for just getting on with the task at hand and doing exactly what is asked of him. I just wish you could bottle his mentality and attitude towards the game - I absolutely love the lad and hope he stays with us on this journey.

If you think about it, this really could have gone tits up. We’ve played the last month or so with one fit defender, yet we’ve looked stronger than ever. The manager deserves a lot of credit for getting his players to believe in him.

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Automatic promotion is in our hands now. It’s been awhile since we could say that (of course the last time needs not be spoken of) and that is an exciting prospect!

If we win every game in hand on our opponents and match or better their results for the remainder of the season, then we end up, at worst, 2nd to Peterborough, who were also famously slighted by last season’s PPG farce. While obviously winning the title would be the ideal way to end the season, there would be a nice slice of justice served up, were the two of us to go up automatically regardless of order.

I have to admit that this side honestly now fills me with more hope and faith than any Sunderland side since SuperKev and Quinn were on the verge of sending us to Europe. Somehow, it really is true, despite many of our first choice players being sidelined. After Hume’s near-season-ending injury, the loss at Shrewsbury, and the clearly makeshift defence, I was despairing the choice of simply foregoing the rest of my international viewing pass to make the hope hurt less. I couldn’t see us making anything better out of this season than a second successive also-ran playoff push (albeit fairly this time). The impending doom was almost palpable.

Fast forward (remarkably) only a few weeks and here we are, still the best defence in the league, with only 5 losses, 4 less than anyone else, a 20+ goal scorer, and with our destiny now completely within our own hands.

We heard that line a lot in our first season down in the trenches, but this time it feels like we can actually believe it. Our first season was mostly propped up by the otherworldly contributions of Maja, who had since departed. The latter part of this season seems to have become a top shelf example of a true work-for-each-other team - and the success from that togetherness materialized suddenly from nowhere.

As best as I can tell, Lee Johnson deserves enormous credit for that, but it’s clearly not only by his efforts. Finding a way to motivate and/or organize a newly galvanized Wyke definitely helps. However, I recall some comments after Doncaster and Lincoln noting how Wyke can’t carry the team with his goals alone (although heading for a 30 goal season can’t hurt!). Since then, Wyke has scored only 4 of our 12 goals, and along with our makeshift (read ridiculously impressive) defence, where usually at least two players are not in their ideal positions, we have been almost unstoppable.

Make no mistake, we are in the business end of the season even though we still have more than a third of the season. We could hear that our destiny is in or out of our hands every few days for the rest of the season, just like we did two years ago.

If the team sticks together and shows the same resilience and belief in each other as they have done, we could just maybe dare to hope that we keep hold of our destiny and send prompt notice to the Championship that they will be forced to contend with a newly awakened giant next season.

Stephen, Denver, Colorado

Ed’s Note [Gav]: Absolutely bang on marra. Like you, I have full belief that this team can go on to achieve promotion - something I suspected might be possible, but didn’t truly buy into until we trounced Portsmouth. All going well we should have a close to fully fit squad for the business end of the season. We’ll have actual defenders fit to select from, we’ll have Hume back which will add so much to the left-hand side, and we’ve still yet to see Ross Stewart kick a ball - he and Kimpioka give us much-needed options up top.

I’m very excited.

Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Papa John’s Trophy - Final 2021 - Wembley Stadium Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Wow, what a day. To win at Wembley feels great - fans there or not, its a special thing, something that a lot of fans haven’t felt, including myself.

I wrote in before saying how I’d been disappointed by Johnson’s start but still felt he was the right man with time, and boy has he proven that. He’s been a breath of fresh air recently when we needed it most.

However, there are some telling signs from the player’s interviews about just how bad it was under Parkinson. In recent weeks you’ve had McGeady (an obvious one), Power during the week and today Leadbitter all speaking anout the energy and freshness that Johnson has brought with him.

We knew it was bad but I honestly think Parkinson sucked the life out of those players. Power spoke about being in and out the team during the early part of the season and not being able to get to his best, which in my opinion I think he’s been a revelation under Johnson, and looks like the player we thought we signed in 2018. Then today, Leadbitter speaking how fresh it is and how Johnson wants to help young and old players. I don’t think there are many players who’ve played under Parkinson who have anything good to say, and I’m so happy we now have Johnson.

I doubted our chances in January and wanted Johnson to improve massively after his average start, and we’ve done that. I have full faith now that we will be promoted this season by winning the league title. The confidence and belief is at an all time high since Big Sam’s season, and I think that will be the thing that gets us over the line this year.

The future looks bright under Louis-Dreyfus and Johnson.

Max

Ed’s Note [Gav]: I don’t know if you listen to the Undr The Cosh podcast but every single time a player is asked about Phil Parkinson they just absolutely slate him - nothing surprises me when it comes to that bloke. When you consider that Sanderson and McGeady were bombed out by him, it shows just how clueless the bloke was. How the hell he got the Sunderland job is beyond me. The bloke is just another Simon Grayson, who also won the lottery when he got in the door here.

Parky should never get another job in League One again, he’s absolutely shite.

Fleetwood Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Luke O’Nien is a tremendous professional, on and off the pitch. He is one player we should keep at all costs. He gives 100% every game. His enthusiasm is second to none.

You can tell he loves playing football and his heart and soul is in Sunderland. He would probably be a better goalkeeper than Burge if needed.

He has done an amazing job at centre back but I still feel he would be fantastic playing just behind the front two. Him and Sanderson have performed brilliantly, and the latter is definitely Premier League standard, and will play for his country one day. Buy him ASAP at any price please, Mr Louis-Dreyfus, if Wolves are stupid enough to sell him!

Ann Winship

Ed’s Note [Gav]: I’m glad O’Nien is finally getting the credit he deserves. He’s an absolute credit to this football club and should act as a role model to any youngster who wants to one day become a professional footballer. It’ll be a sad, sad day if he’s allowed to leave this football club, because for me he’s not only a player you can build with, but a future Sunderland captain. You want people like O’Nien staying at your club for the majority of their career, or at least until someone comes in with a big offer.

I really hope he stays. I really want him to stay. Maybe we can do our part as fans and let him know just how well thought of and appreciated he is.

Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Papa John’s Trophy - Final 2021 - Wembley Stadium Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I read “The Kyril Louis-Dreyfus era: Long-term investment, not short-term gambles (Parts 1 & 2 - Philosophy)” with great interest.

The fans responses were also interesting, especially the one which read “No no no” I want every penny available to be spent on players to get us out of this league, (or words to that effect).

The point that was missed in this response is that the possible amount of money that may be made available by Mr Louis Dreyfus for new players is almost irrelevant because of the diabolical, so called financial fair play rules. Fair play to who exactly?

Certainly not fair play to SAFC. The football authorities have created a situation where they allowed Billionaires to buy certain clubs like Chelsea & Manchester City and buy Premier league success then stopped other clubs from doing the same when good fortune arrives as it has done here. The only “fair play” that I can see is to those mega rich clubs. The authorities have ensured that no other English club can do what City & Chelsea were allowed to do. We are constantly told that football is a business yet we are prevented in investing in our business because we must be fair to our business competitors. What a disgrace.

Anyway, to get back to my point. If Mr Louis-Dreyfus cant buy the players that he feels he needs then I guess that now is the time to spend the money where he is allowed. Especially on the academy. If he can’t buy what he wants in the marketplace then he can always grow his own.

Meanwhile of course if he will invest the maximum that he is allowed on players then at least we will have a chance of some success. I wish him good luck, he will need it.

Mick Colman

Ed’s Note [Paul]: It’s a fair point, like. The goalposts have moved. If you’re not regularly in Champions League then it’s very difficult to establish yourself as a top 4 club. The pecking order is quite set in stone.

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