Dear Roker Report,
So the long anticipated European Superleague is pretty much here. Been seeing a ton of people online are extremely pissed off (upset) about it. Gary Neville (of all people) put it so succinctly and eloquently when he said that the Super League is a load of bollocks driven by nothing more than greed.
Where am I going with this? Sunderland, of course.
People have been moaning on for ages about being “stuck” in League 1, how we are “better” than everyone else in this league, how the league is “rubbish” and bemoaning that we “can’t get out of this hellhole”. It’s been flaring up again after the 3 losses on the bounce. I think it’s about time we get some perspective and take stock of everything, especially in the big picture.
As a fanbase, where do we really want to be? I know the long-term goal is (as has been stated) the Premier League, but we all know it’s not entirely all its cracked up to be. We also know that the Premier League is more or less corporate football. Bland, stodgy, boring.
I think we are just fine where we are currently at in tier 3. The fanbase has been revitalised, we have players that actually give a shit (one would hope so despite recent struggles) and management that seems to know what its doing. We also have a ton to play for: the league (with promotion/relegation), league cup, FA cup. We are also playing teams every week that have the same goals: progression up the football pyramid, cup success.
I for one, dont want to go back to the premier league any time soon, especially after news broke of the impending euro superleague. Corporatized, Americanized sports is not anything to get excited about (see: American professional sports, i.e. NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL). No promotion. No relegation. Playing the same teams all the time, year in and year out. I’ll take the passion and excitement of League 1 (and English football in general) over that tripe-filled load of bland bollocks of the euro superleague/premier league.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Cheers for your thoughts on this, Azlynn. I think you’re absolutely spot on about this being all about the hijacking of our game by corporate interests. This news has made many fans appreciate what we’ve got right now, especially given what we’ve been through as a club in recent years, and maybe look at the bigger picture of how the game is run and how the money and power are divvied out. English and European football needs a rethink, the UK Government’s promised fan led review of football governance has to be introduced as soon as practically possible, and be properly resourced and properly fan-led.
I can’t agree, however, that Sunderland are fine down in tier 3; historically and in terms of fanbase, investment and infrastructure, we’re a top of the Championship or Premier League outfit, and the sooner we’re out of this league the better. We’re not sustainable at this level and, indeed the presence of a club our size at tier 3 can inflate the market for players and wages in a way that encourages overspending by other League 1 clubs.
Dear Roker Report,
I’m just DISGUSTED with our so called elite clubs. It’s a copy of American football. No promotion or relegation. Who wants to watch uncompetitive football between teams that got nothing to play for, only prize money? Next they will be moving to different cities and countries in Europe.
If the clubs and players get banned from all football associations, have they thought about transfers? Our elite lot aren’t just happy by pinching young players from other clubs academies and never play them. A year ago Chelsea loaned 30 players. Unbelievable. Now they want a closed shop to make money and get richer. The greedy so and so.
If this is allowed to happen that’s the end of football. I grew up in Malta in the 50’s listening to the English football commentaries on the old B.F.R.S.(BRITISH FORCES RADIO) mostly with Ken Wolstenholme commenting. Wonderful memories. Couldn’t wait to come to live and work in England to watch the beautiful game and to begin my love affair with S.A.F.C.
No American billionaire is going to take our passion for football from us. We need to protest to protect our football pyramid.
Come on Sunderland.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thanks for sending in your thoughts, Anthony, and I support everything you've said. I have to say that I take the position that the 12 should be kicked out of this season's domestic and European competitions and have to reapply to join their league structures next season once they have dropped this dangerous proposition. If the football community gives an inch to these billionaire parasites now, they will take the full mile in a couple of years time. I’m proud to support my home town club and my local fan-owned club here in Wales, and I’ve got top-flight and European ambitions for both sides. I hope the governments, FIFA, UEFA, FA, the Premier League, EFL, PFA, LMA, FSA and fans groups can all work together to ensure that this competition is a failure before it’s even started.
Dear Roker Report,
With respect to your reply to Colin Whisker’s letter, specifically, “I’ll be honest, I’m struggling to properly critique Johnson given he’s handling a squad largely made up of players he didn’t sign.”
Isn’t he a head coach?
He may have input into whom we sign but won’t ever have the level of control over sigings that a manager would have. That responsibility lies elsewhere in the club, the club having now gone down the director of football route, with the aim of giving us long term stability.
Johnson will be in the same position next season and it’s his credentials as a coach and tactician, not talent spotting, that should concern us.
Let’s hope that the recruitment team give him the players that he needs and he gives the players the best team set up to succeed.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Cheers for writing in Matthew. I’ve read Gav’s reply to Colin’s letter, and I think it’s pretty measured to be honest. I absolutely agree with both you and Colin that the buck stops with Johnson in terms of coaching the best out of the players available to him. But I truly think he and we have found the limits of a good few of the squad over the last few matches - and that limit is playing in League One.
I too worry that the “streaky” reputation that Johnson brought with him from his time in Bristol, and I was warned about this by a relative when he joined. But it is the case that Johnson will be closely involved, along with Kristjaan Speakman, Head of Data James Young, and Head of Recruitment Stuart Harvey, in brining in a new squad of players in the summer that more closely matches the new philosophy and style of play that is being implemented across the club, whatever division we end up in.
Overall, I’m with Gav in that we should reserve out true judgment of him as a coach until he’s had the chance to shape a squad and work with them for a full pre-season.
Dear Roker Report,
Jose Mourinho sacked by Spurs. Is it time for Kyril to step in and offer Jose the challenge of his life? Mourinho is an expert at spending billionaires cash. With Kyrils wad and Jose’s charisma how can we fail? Go on Kyril give us all a treat.
Thanks for reading, all the best...
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Hi Walter, what an appropriate name for someone who has gone on the most elaborate of flights of fancy. I’ll gratefully have one of whatever you’ve had, but maybe not on a school night!
Dear Roker Report,
We just haven’t been good enough all season a series lack of pace throughout the team we have played in twenty two league matches where we have failed to win.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Hi Norman. I’m firmly of the view that the damage was done a long time ago - the lacklustre recruitment in the summer and the string of draws at start of the season under Parkinson have ultimately left us with no leeway when it’s come to the crunch.
Dear Roker Report,
Tangerine [Blackpool] fan here...
I sense the disappointment of a terrible week but you are going to make the play off’s and you’d only had one away loss up until Tuesday so despite the gloom don’t assassinate everyone at SAFC - most expensive squad etc but also bigger expectation. I read a lot of harsh comments about individual players - your expectancy as you well know, never comes with a guarantee
I thought Sunderland were possibly the best team we’ve welcomed to Bloomfield Rd -had McGeady’s shot (which had a tiniest hint of a save I think) gone in, the day/weekend would have been fine - he wasn’t fit though surely?
I don’t think we were any where near our best and have been playing on fumes for half our 16 match unbeaten run -we were fortunate to win yesterday (most Pool fans agree), but should have won at Lincoln last week and mucked it up - how they are 4th I’ll never know. We’ve had 8 regulars out for the last 2 months which has put a lot of pressure on the fir players we have and management - I think both deserve a lot of credit. We have nothing like the resources you guys have.
Your left back Macfazden (?) should have been sent off (foul on Mitchell) and I felt Leadbetter looked classy and bar a coat of paint and a little more luck you’d have easily won - you dominated all but the first 15 mins I thought and played some good sweeping footie perhaps without the finish.
Embleton has done ok btw, if you can’t find him first team footie then that’s our gain and not his fault. And yes, if you are tired of some of your players send them along to the Fylde please we’d happily entertain many of them
You will still be favourites in the play offs and I wish you all the best going forward - seen a few good matches between both sides over the years going back to the early 70’s and long and hope to see a few more.
Best wishes keep the faith always.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thanks for your letter, Paul, it’s always good to hear from opposing fans. I thought the first half on Saturday was a fascinating if not overly incident-filled 45 minutes of football played by two teams who wanted to play the game the right way. I agree about us having been a bit unlucky with the result, but also fortunate to have 11 men on the pitch at the end after McFadzean’s foul on 73 minutes.
When we loaned Embleton out to you, our Sporting Director claimed that Blackpool were chosen as his destination club due to the similarities in approach and philosophy between Lee Johnson and Neil Critchley - I think that was evident at the weekend and we’ll see it again during the return fixture next Tuesday. Other than that game, I wish you all the best for the rest of the season, unless, that is, we meet you in the playoffs too!