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Sunderland v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light

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Fan Letters: Take your choice - pessimism or optimism?

The RR mailbag is a mix of hope that we’ll still achieve promotion and those who think we might have blown it - have you got anything you need to get off your chest?! Email us: rokerreport@yahoo.co.uk!

Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’ll keep it short. This manager needs to show some passion and grit and get that through to the players. He’s a nice guy but nice wins nothing. These players are lacking the do or die spirit and it’s the managers job to instil that in them.

Most are just journey men and playing for Sunderland is just another job. It will be hard for LJ to do this, when he himself shows very little of the raw passion needed to get this club out of this division.

Fingers crossed he changes.

Sam Lucas

Ed’s Note [Chris]: Having heard him on the bench on the audio of certain games this season, it sounds like Lee Johnson has a different side to him when he needs to, and to manage over 400 competitive games at his age I think he would have to have another side.

The players obviously responded because it took them time but then they bought into his methods. We’re having a wobble, but if we gain promotion by any means and win a cup at the end of everything I’m sure we’ll consider it a pretty successful season.

Sunderland v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League One
Lee Johnson looked as frustrated as we did on the touchline against Charlton
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I had to switch off after their second. We do not have a great deal of quality and when the effort levels drop off, we are awful. Look back. Peterborough had enough chances to beat us, Oxford would have if not for the sending off.

LJ doesn’t seem to know his best team. The January signings should have been better than we had, and not sat as subs. We may pay the top wages, but we don’t have the top players. Again the recruitment has been woeful. After years in this division, we have had the time to recruit better than we have.

Hume was running around always in the wrong places, Wright was weak and slow, which rubbed onto Sanderson. Jones seems to have problems getting past his full back. One trick! Diamond tried impossible passes instead of easy. Power runs like a farmer in wellingtons, and he, like Scowen, cannot win 50/50s.

Who should support Wyke? The manager doesn’t seem to know. He has tried Gooch, O’Brien, Stewart and now McGeady.

It was horrible, and LJ saying that he feels let down by the players! The buck stops with you. You have a few games left to decide on a best eleven for the play offs. Hull and Peterborough are not going to collapse like us.

Adrian Donnelly

Ed’s Note [Chris]: After an amazing run we’ve hit a bump in the road and after being worried about whether or not we’d make the play-offs in mid-January, we’re now still dreaming of automatic promotion.

There are plenty of twists and turns to come and if we can find a rhythm again I’d fancy us in the play-offs.

Sunderland v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League One
Charlie Wyke considering who is next partner up top might be...
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Well Lee Johnson’s bubble is well and truly burst after two devastating defeats. Mind you the signs were already clear that the favoured ‘high press’ tactics were not working.

Although the principle is sound it does rely on players fully understanding what is required of them plus the ability to put it into practice.

The intention of employing such tactics must be to maximise chances created and goals scored, thus creating very attractive football.

There is a very strong and compelling argument that Sunderland do not possess the players to achieve any measure of success in this sphere. Take away the individual and complementary contributions of McGeady and Wyke and you are left with very little to bolster their contributions.

A further complication is the worrying lack of talent in midfield. It is particularly hard to understand how a player of the undoubted ability of Embleton, after a highly successful loan spell with Grimsby, can be allowed to join and star for a resurgent Blackpool team when much less gifted players enjoy regular selection. The same principle can be applied to Jack Diamond after his successful loan to Harrogate last season.

What is the point in allowing very good Academy graduates to go out to gain experience and then to disregard them in favour of plain journeymen? So much for the stated aim to raise the profile of our excellent Academy!

To be brutally frank this group of players do not deserve automatic promotion. They lack consistency and the mental strength to overcome adversity. Even the best sides have the occasional hiccup but it happens to Sunderland with monotonous regularity. To lose to bog standard League One sides with such regularity as happened on Tuesday is unforgivable and does not bode well for the future.

Clearly, no matter which division the Club finds itself in next season, will require a thorough reappraisal of the playing staff. McGeady and Wyke cannot be expected to bear the brunt of out attacking capabilities yet again. Although it is accepted that all sides require players who are the often unsung heroes, they must be in the minority if we are to make the kind of progress now expected.

Our winter is not yet over and the tender shoots of undoubted progress must be protected from the inevitable frost! We can only hope that our new Management Team is fully aware of our deficiencies and is already actively planning for a successful season to follow.

Ernie Brown

Ed’s Note [Chris]: I’d imagine the planning for next season has already started whatever the outcome, but these players along with Lee Johnson got us back into the mix this season and deserve our backing through to this seasons conclusion. There will be plenty of time in the summer to review the rights and wrongs of this season.

Blackpool v Accrington Stanley - Sky Bet League One
Elliot Embleton has impressed at Blackpool
Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Like everyone else I was left deflated and bitterly disappointed on Tuesday night. I think automatic promotion is all but gone, not because the teams above won’t slip up but because of our tough run in.

BUT, there is still so much left to play for this season. No one wants the play-offs and there is an element of luck as always, but it’s worth reminding ourselves we can actually win them.

In 2018/19 we limped into the play-offs, this time around we have six games left to build up some steam. If/when we do go into them, let’s be the team on a good run no one wants to face!

Louis Dinsdale

Ed’s Note [Chris]: We might have hit a wobble now but I think if we use the six games left in the right way we might hit our stride at just the right time. There’s a long way to go in this season yet.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Jack Ross limped us into the play-offs in our first season in League One
Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images


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