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Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One

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Fan Letters: “Looks like LJs honeymoon is definitely over!”

The RR Mailbag is chocker full in the immediate aftermath of Sunderland’s latest loss - with Lee Johnson’s status as manager, the prospect of the play-offs and more on the agenda. Email us:

Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

The problem with us at the minute is our centre midfield. We lack energy and drive. The injuries to our defence have cost us dearly as they have took both Power and O’Nien away leaving us with little in centre midfield.

Have a look results since Feb time and who played centre midfield...

Our recent wins under Johnson:

MK Dons 3-0 - O’Nien and Scowen middle

Doncaster 4-1 - O’Nien, Power, Scowen middle

Burton 3-0 - Power and Leadbitter middle

Fleetwood 2-0 - Power and Leadbitter in middle

Swindon 1-0 - Scowen and Winchester

Rochdale 2-0 - Power and Winchester

Accrington 2-0 - Power and Winchester

Oxford 3-1 - Power and Scowen

Portsmouth 2-0 - Winchester and Scowen

Bristol Rovers 1-0 - Winchester and Scowen

Recent defeats under Johnson:

Shrewsbury 2-1 - Scowen and Leadbitter

Plymouth 2-1 - Scowen and Winchester

Charlton 2-1 - Scowen and Winchester

Wigan 2-1 - Scowen and Power

Blackpool 1-0 - Scowen and Leadbitter

Blackpool 1-0 - Scowen and Leadbitter

Recent draws under Johnson:

Gillingham 2-2 - Scowen and Leadbitter

MK Dons 2-2 - Leadbitter and O’Nien

Lincoln 1-1 - Scowen, Leadbitter and Neil

Crewe 2-2 - Scowen and Power

Lincoln 1-1 - Scowen, Winchester and Power

Peterborough 1-1 - Leadbitter and Winchester

Scowen played in every defeat.

Only two wins out of nine when Leadbitter starts.

No wins at all with Scowen and Leadbitter in the team together (one draw and three defeats).

Scowen and Winchester have three wins together and two defeats. Hit and miss.

Seven wins, three draws and only one defeat when Power or O’Nien start in the middle when we have legs and drive.

We are sorely missing them in the middle of the park. It’s crucial that we try to get a way to get Power and/or O’Nien in the middle as soon as possible.

Ben Ventress

Ed’s Note [Chris]: Purely looking at the list you have provided Ben, we could look at it in terms of Scowen playing in every defeat or that he’s played in the middle for the most victories along with Max Power.

I think all of our central midfielders have controlled games very well at times and looked out of sorts in others. One thing your list has shown is how much we’ve rotated in personnel and in terms of how many we’ve set up with.

I’d like us to try and settle on a side that finds some form, but rotation seems to be part of the plan.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
Josh Scowen
Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Just watched Sunderland against Blackpool - what a load of absolute rubbish, no commitment, no desire and no skill, hit and hope.

Looks like LJs honeymoon is definitely over and they won’t even get through the playoffs, next season? I said from the beginning that LJ wasn’t the man to lead Sunderland out of the mire that we’re in, but I think Kyril may have to get in touch with his contacts and bring in a proven manager who knows what the hell he’s doing

Bill Harding

Ed’s Note [Chris]: With two league games to go the plain facts are that Lee Johnson came to the club when achieving a play-off was doubtful, now we’re on the verge of achieving that, in my opinion, we need to keep behind them.

There is still a chance we could enjoy this summer looking back on a season that resulted in promotion to the Championship and a cup win at Wembley. If we don’t there will be plenty of time for recriminations before next season starts.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One
Lee Johnson
Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Evening lads - my main point tonight is the formation. We consistently go for this 4-2-2-2. And if you look at our record against sides in the top half of the division it doesn’t work.

It may against take teams but LJ’s preferred 4-3-3 is more successful against better teams. I know we have injuries, but surely we have enough of a squad to play 4-3-3?

I don’t get not playing Jones. We don’t need two deep, holding midfielders in this league. We are not facing De Bruyne. That’s is my one and only criticism of LJ.


Dave Wilkie

Ed’s Note [Chris]: The points accumulated against the top six suggest we do okay against sides in the top half, and it’s sides from the bottom half that have done us this season.

I agree with the two holding midfield players, but looking at the choice between picking two of Leadbitter, Winchester, Scowen and Power I’d say that they are all fairly defensive by their nature and it’s not a list of players that will score many goals from midfield.

In some ways he’s a victim of the squad he inherited, but this recent poor run could have been managed better and Jordan Jones sitting on the bench is a strange one.

Hull City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Jordan Jones
Photo by Ed Sykes - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Yet another loss tonight against Blackpool. This would have been considered a joke 5 year ago! But no here we are. There is no passion in this team whatsoever.

Sorry, but time to sack Johnson. He hasn’t got a clue.

Why have Maguire warm up and not bring him on? Something seriously wrong with this club.

I have supported them for over 50 years but not sure I can take much more.

My player ratings today would all be below zero. Every player was crap and should be ashamed.

Philip Wright

Ed’s Note [Chris]: Not at this point for me Philip. I think he dragged us into a better position than we were when he took over and let’s take stock at the end of the season to make decisions for whatever happens next.

Hull City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Chris Maguire
Photo by Joe Portlock/Getty Images

Hi Rich,

This is a brilliant piece today, bold, ambitious and comprehensive. Thanks very much. When you are fed up with being a Europhile trade unionist, Roker Report can second you to the Guardian!

Best wishes

Richard Taylor, Harpenden Herts

Ed’s Note [Rich]: Cheers, Richard, I’m glad you enjoyed the editorial article, I had a lot to get off my chest.

Dear Roker Report,

I couldn’t resist this post. Will Grigg scored FOUR GOALS in one game for MK Dons. Can you believe that? It might help you believe when you see he scored them against LEE CAMP! Nuff said!

Allen Roberts

Ed’s Note [Chris]: I think I’d be more surprised if he didn’t score to be fair, a cardboard cut-out would be more effective between the sticks.


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