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Fan Letters: We’ve reached the point already where some people want old managers back at SAFC...

Some interesting solutions to our current issues have been suggested in today’s mailbag... What do you think? Email us:

Photo by Joe Giddens - PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

We are about to end the third season in League One. Only one reason why we haven’t won an outright promotion. We had 46 – yes 46 – drawn matches. A whole season of drawn matches, mostly throwing the lead away and still got 3 matches to play and also we only played 34 matches in 19/20 season.

The big problem with our players is that even with a two goal lead they panic and can’t kill off any game. I have streamed every match this season and the only time I really felt relaxed was the away match against Lincoln City.

I’m getting nervous about the play offs. I can’t stand the tension. All I want for Christmas (which is a long way off) is to get out of this horrible division.

Also the SOL. No disrespect to the smaller clubs, but I’m 100% certain that our stadium lifts our opponents. Even our opponents’ managers are using the stadium to gee up their players.

After three seasons in League One, they still treat our matches as their cup final. Have you noticed after they play us 99% of the teams lose their next match?

The reason? Because they make such a big effort against us that when the next game comes around the players are exhausted. It’s so frustrating for us mackems. Every club has a bad period but for us it’s seems to go on forever. Badly mismanaged. Look at Norwich and Watford (ok they change the coach every month) but kept all the players and wanted to play in Championship, and have gone straight up. Like our lot the greedy sods.

Still can’t believe what had happened to our football club. I can always visualise if my memory serves me right, when we won promotion from the old Third Division, Eric Gates diving on the pitch to the tune It Can Only Get Better. Happy times.

Anthony DeGiovanni

Ed’s note [Martin]: Since Maja left, we’ve not had a player who can regularly grab a goal out of nothing, and you’re right - the draws have killed us. Still, we’re hopefully going to be in the playoffs, and anything can happen. Fingers crossed.

Eric Gates
Gatesy: prone to ‘going down easily!’
Photo by Tom Jenkins/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

De Jay, in a recent letter, wrote: ”I recently discovered the full 90 replays are free, which I’m hugely excited about; unfortunately they’re covered in spoilers, so even if you live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific, it’s hard to watch the replay without seeing the score. “

How do you watch free replays?

Thanks a lot.

Phil Davison

Ed’s Note [Martin]: The full 90-minute replays are published on the club website 48 hours or so after the game. Here’s the link to Saturday’s action. Maybe stop watching after 45 minutes.

Dear Roker Report,

Typical Sunderland, always failing.

Play offs it is then.

Only four or five weeks ago we stood on the verge of automatic promotion with a clear path to victory all plotted out and even, we dared to dream, perhaps even the title.

Fast forward four weeks or so and in typical Sunderland AFC fashion, instead of just getting on with the job and securing our escape from this godforsaken league, we’ve instead chosen the path of utter failure and despair once again and blown our promotion hopes away in unspectacular and predictable fashion. Only Sunderland have the unenviable expertise to constantly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and with such monotonous pathetic regularity.

Those of a certain vintage of course like myself (sadly closer to 60 rather than 50) are more used to this bottling of opportunities and have sadly seen it all before far, far too many times. I’ve witnessed us chucking chances to succeed away for 46 years now and on a regular, almost guaranteed basis. Typical Sunderland. I’ve witnessed more relegations and missed chances of promotion than Liverpool have won titles. Typical Sunderland. I’ve seen us lose at Wembley eight times out of eight and the one time we actually win there no fans were allowed. Typical Sunderland.

I’ve seen us build the semblance of a good solid team, with good managers like Knighton, Durban, Smith, Reidy and latterly Big Sam, only for a lack of ambition and investment to halt its growth and see it sink into oblivion without a trace after but a fleeting glimpse of what could have been.

Typical Sunderland. Always failing.

So we enter the play offs in pretty poor shape, limping along as we have done for five or six games now and into the biggest lottery of all. A three game cup competition that we have hardly been champions of in the last 35 years, going back to that fateful Gillingham game in 1987 that sent us to the depths of despair the first time. We’ve bottled the play offs everytime, only succeeding in 1990 due to our opponents’ financial irregularities and benefitting not from our own skill and ability but by others’ failures.

So what of these play offs?

Traditionally teams going into them in poor form struggle but tbh, there isn’t an in form team this season anywhere. Hull and Peterborough are worthy automatic winners but the four teams currently occupying the play off places are all limping along now losing, drawing and not winning many – and the four or five trying to get into the top six are hardly setting the world on fire.

Is there a clear favourite? Not at all. Do we have the team and squad to win them? Absolutely. But it depends on one thing alone. Are we going to be typical sunderland always losing and underperforming, or will it be KLD’s / Johnson’s new Sunderland AFC, who will win their first trophy at Wembley AND our first play off final in the same calendar year?

Over to you chaps. History awaits the victors and the question is, will it to be a glorious new dawn for our beloved SAFC, or the same tedious gloom that always befalls us. Will we talk about this play offs as the catalyst of our new beginning, or will this be the first step of Johnson struggling and inevitably being replaced sometime in November back in League One as we go round and round this loop we are stuck in now.

Typically Sunderland always... that is still to be written.

Kevin Twinn

Ed’s Note [Martin]: We’re certainly more accustomed to experiencing disappointment from playoff game aren’t we? However, there’s nothing to fear in them. We’ve proven in recent weeks – even during this bad spell – that we’re more than a match for the two teams that will go up automatically. Time will tell...

Soccer - Barclays League Division Two - Playoff Finals - Swindon Town v Sunderland - Wembley Stadium
‘Typical Sunderland’
Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Thought of the week?

Bailey without Willis

O’Nien without Sanderson

It’s just doesn’t work

Bailey and O’Nien totally doesn’t work

Willis and Sanderson – different gravy. Whatever the division next season, that should work in spades!

Neil Cain

Ed’s Note [Martin]: This good run started when Sanderson came into the team and has fallen off a cliff since he dropped out. Wright’s blatantly not fit, and while O’Nien had come up with some good performances at centre half he’s been exposed over recent weeks. The injuries we’ve had at centre half this season though have been horrendous and is a major reason why we’ve not been able to get an automatic place.

Sunderland v Fleetwood Town - Sky Bet League One
Sanderson and O’Nien... ‘go together like a horse and carriage’ as Frank Sinatra might have almost once said
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Time for Lee Johnson to up his game. Never mind the players, we can all see the weak links in our team and we can all see the formation that works better for us. Johnson has been here long enough now so surely he can see them too? I know that these, in the main are not his players, so what? He gets paid to manage the team, regardless of who is in it. These performances and results are just not good enough. Time for Johnson’s performances to improve, or the “sack the manager” brigade will be out in force. And I might just be one of them.

Mick Colman

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, we need to keep faith in Johnson. From the team that started on Saturday, 9 out of the 11 have failed to get us promoted in previous seasons – so why is it such a surprise we’re failing again?

Of course, every manager gets things wrong – Johnson’s made a few mistakes and needs to learn from it, and I’ve no doubt he will. He talked earlier in the week about the need to recruit during the summer for his preferred formation, and he’ll get the chance to do that. The last thing we need is for him to recruit, be sacked, and someone else come in with a Frankenstein squad made up of the signings of four or five managers past. That’s exactly how we’ve got into this mess.

Sunderland v Accrington Stanley - Sky Bet League One
Surely we have to stick with Johnson for the long term?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Maybe Lee Johnson is simply out of his depth... Too nice a guy? You just can’t bring in small-town club owners, managers or people with no experience of owning a big club in the Premier League, (e.g. Ellis Short). Roy Keane, with no management experience, took over from Niall’s caretaker role when we were at the foot of the Division, and we won it. Steven Gerrard’s brought Rangers back to where they would expect to be. Common denominator... maybe big club experience, learned from very accomplished managers. So while we’ve recently had some very competent managers, (Allardyce and Advocaat), they’ve generally been short-term. Others, with prior decent track records, have not worked out, for various reasons.

My ideal scenario would be Peter Reid coming back to run front-of-house, with Roy Keane on the training ground, to kick this lot into shape. Having supported my club since the mid-50s, I think I’ve a right to express my opinion, following the worst few seasons in our history. KLD has made a promising start, but he might have some major decisions coming up.

PhilG — Surrey

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Everyone’s got the right to express an opinion Phil! As I mentioned in my comment to Mick above, one of the reasons we’re in this mess is the continual chopping and changing of manager, so I’d be really surprised if a change was made in the next 12 months. As a club, we really need to get past this mentality of thinking we have to change manager after a bad spell of results. I’m a massive fan of Roy Keane and would have loved him back as manager – think Reidy’s past it, however!

Soccer - Coca-Cola Championship match - Ipswich v Sunderland.
Would you like to see Keano come back?
Photo by Mark Lees - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I have a question for you and our beautiful fans!

Is the Papa John’s Trophy anymore less attractive than the Carabo Cup? And really, what are either?

On the basis of it all it seems pretty simplistic to me! Neither are well known nor that important?

In many years to come, when we look back and sit in our armchairs and remember our SAFC achievements of 2021. Will we really look back with pride and passion as we do?

I will absolutely remember watching this amazing pizza cup final in Houston with my five year old girl and three year old boy and jumping up and screaming like a banshee. I’ll never forget this. I cried! Not little tears, big tears. I peed my pants!

However, outside of the the bubble of SAFC and Man C. Who cares? The winner of the CaraboCup will be no better remembered than the winner of the Papa John’s Trophy? (Only in our hearts and history and forever be it, SAFC fans!)

So here’s the point!

But I’d rather have a pizza in my armchair, than an energy drink in my hand, other wise my wife may get ideas and I’m gunna be up all night!

Forever SAFC

Thanks, James

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Hmmm. Your poor wife. Best of luck to her. The Carabo (League) cup is far bigger than the Papa Johns for so many reasons, however, it was nice to get the experience of winning at Wembley. Hopefully, it stands us in good stead.


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