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Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One

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Fan Letters: ‘Even the best chefs can’t cut with a blunt knife!’ says RR reader Evan

Criticism of Lee Johnson is concerning Evan, while if you’re after a left-field suggestion of how to solve our centre half crisis, you’re in the right place. What do you think? Email us:

Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

How are you’s doing lads?

I keep seeing Lee Johnson’s name getting tossed about like, ‘is he the right man?’...‘I thought he was a man motivator’ etc.

Personally, I wonder how can anyone answer that question? LJ has only been at the club half of a swing of a barn door. We can’t let ourselves fall into our old ways of the Manager/Head Coach has a spell of bad form then we question his leadership.

LJ is playing with a team of players who have mostly played negative football under their past two managers and he has been trying to drill it out of them.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I know we have injuries but if we don’t win the play-offs, I think we have to look at some of the players as appose to Lee Johnson. Even the best chefs can’t cut with a blunt knife.

Cheers, stay safe!

Evan Lloyd

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Absolutely bang on Evan. 100%. Some people have fallen into the trap of ‘sack the manager’ if he doesn't win a few games. It’s ludicrous and it’s one of the reasons we’re in this mess. Some of the reaction (vocal minority) has been hugely disappointing – understandably people are disappointed with the recent results and throwing away the chance of automatic promotion, I am too. But throwing toys out of prams, calling Johnson and the players out, just isn’t on. We’ve got new owners, are building a proper team behind the scenes – we just need to see the bigger picture. The big thing at present is WE CAN STILL GO UP! Everyone seems to have written the playoffs off as a bad joke. We’ll have a one-in-four chance of going up if we finish in the top six.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One
Lee Johnson says ‘keep the faith!’
Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I have a few thoughts that have been swirling around in my mind recently:

First, all of the negativity on social media regarding Sunderland’s recent performances baffles me. Especially the animosity towards Lee Johnson. He has been given a team that earlier in the season could not string any wins together, and transformed them into a more attacking side. With the same players! We have to give him credit for managing a make-shift defence for so long. Earlier in the season, we were looking at scraping into the playoffs. Now we are third, after having been on an excellent run. It is a good thing that we were in contention for automatic promotion in the first place! We should be glad that Johnson has worked us into this position. Granted, momentum going into the playoffs will be key to success, but I think that this whole narrative of us having thrown something away is completely warped. We have not thrown something away at all.

Second, I would like to add how much I enjoyed Rich’s article today (26/04). Solidarity and inclusivity are the most important things to remember in football right now. And I completely agree that the narrative that ‘Women’s football does not earn as much revenue as men, therefore they should not get as much money” makes literally no sense. Of course we need to invest! The women’s game has received years and years of no attention. It needs attention to grow. As Sunderland fans, we need solidarity right now, not mindless criticism on social media. If (when?) we don’t get promoted, we need to back the manager and owner to build a better future for the club.

Third, I wanted to ask what streaming method RR prefers to keep up with Sunderland? Radio, TV? Having tried both, I have got to say that listening to Barnesy and Benno is a much more pleasurable experience than watching them on the telly. They are far cleverer and funny than their TV counterparts, and I think that not being able to physically see the action is a virtue sometimes. Radio is definitely the way to go!

Here’s to a good few results in these next games going into the playoffs!


Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for your email Paul, and I wholeheartedly agree with your first two points. The criticism of Johnson is baffling, shows we’ve learnt nothing and we don’t ‘get’ what’s been started: a long-term plan. After we’ve been crying out for it for years!

Yes, Johnson’s made mistakes, which manager hasn’t, but he’s not had the chance to mould the team. Let’s see what he does with a preseason and a couple of transfer windows under his belt.

As far as Rich’s piece goes, thanks for the feedback. He’s very passionate about those issues and SAFC of course, and has a great way of presenting those discussions.

Regarding the streaming method, I personally prefer watching the action, although as someone brought up listening to Charles Harrison and John Cairns on local radio, and BBC Radio 2 (pre Five Live!) on national radio, I love listening to radio commentary.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Sunderland - Carling Cup Second Round
Benno (right) with TalkSport’s ‘Moose’ is a favourite of Paul’s!
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

After blowing automatic promotion we now have to turn our attention to the playoffs. Teams that tend to win promotion through that avenue, usually have momentum leading up to the playoffs. That leaves Sunderland at a great disadvantage, due to poor team selection, constant panic substitutions, and players who allow themselves to be bullied and manipulated by the opposition.

Can we win the playoffs? With this team, no!

The teams we will play are Lincoln, Blackpool, Charlton, Portsmouth, Oxford – any three from these five. Doesn’t fill you with confidence. Don’t think this team is good enough.

Ready for another season in League One. Hope l’m proved wrong.


Ed’s Note [Martin]: There are three games left to start building some momentum, and a good run will come as quickly as the bad one did. Of the teams you’ve mentioned above, we’ve played 9 games against them so far this season, we’ve won 4, drawn 2, lost 3. Not great, but certainly not all doom and gloom.

A few games ago these players were being heralded for having guts and character. Now they’re being bullied and manipulated? No, not for me. They’re League One players, inconsistent by nature. That’s all.

Let’s concentrate fully on supporting the lads through the playoffs – the time to pick over the bones is post-season.

Sunderland v Accrington Stanley - Sky Bet League One
Time to build some momentum!
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I enjoy the many varied comments from supporters / posters.

I was thinking, when we are allowed back at the Stadium of Light (full access not partial) if all or some of the posters would welcome a bit of a get together, maybe over a pint, maybe on the concourse, maybe after a game to discuss the performance and player ratings. It would also be nice to put names to faces and am sure the atmosphere would be lively!

Is it something Roker Report would be interested in sponsoring? not financially but organisationally?

Thoughts please,

David Vaulks

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for the suggestion David, and you’re right, it’d be great to meet. I wonder how many other contributors would be interested? It’s one to consider once we’re allowed back in the ground, certainly – we’ll need to see what’s OK and what’s not OK to do when the time comes. In the meantime, keep up the crack in the comments section – we always enjoy reading your thoughts!

Dear Roker Report,

Defence – we’ve got no centre halves... so why don’t they turn a centre forward into that role? It worked for a certain Dave Watson, who became one of England’s best in his day. Maybe they could have used Grigg in that role? Just a thought.

Stephen Groves

Ed’s Note [Martin]: The thought of Will Grigg at centre half is genuinely terrifying! I won’t be able to sleep tonight.

Sunderland v AFC Wimbledon - Sky Bet League One
Will Grigg definitely isn’t the new Dave Watson
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Peter Reid is by far the best manager we have had for nearly 50 years the exception being Bob Stokoe.

David Metcalfe

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Reidy’s certainly the best we’ve had in my 35 years of actively going to games David – to take us from near relegation certs in the second tier to on the verge of Europe, without being heavily backed financially, was an unbelievable achievement. And it could – should – have been so much more, too. Bob Stokoe, of course, deserves all the accolades possible for his achievements in 73!


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