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Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Papa John’s Trophy Final

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Fan Letters: Trust the owner and his plan for Sunderland next season!

“Whatever happens you have to trust that our new owner has a plan for next season whether it be the Championship or, God forbid, League One!” writes RR reader Dale. Email us:

Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Following our latest defeat to Blackpool at home the fanbase seem to have gone into meltdown! LJ is out of his depth! He’s not the man for SAFC etc.

Come on take a breath please. I’m extremely disappointed how things have gone and yes you could say typical Sunderland, but I feel Johnson has made a rod for his own back by raising everyone’s expectations this season by getting us into the playoff positions.

When Phil Parkinson led us to our lowest ebb in the 2019/20 Covid-19 curtailed season and then was unable to add any real reinforcements to the playing staff due to Donald’s lack of finances plus the football league’s salary cap it was no surprise to see the side struggle during the first part of the 2021 season. The same deficiencies remained, no height, real physical presence & no pace throughout the squad, a woeful lack of cover in key full back areas. We were looking like a bang average mid-table outfit.

Phil Parkinson got the sack and rightly so in my opinion even though he was given no support from the owners, but signing Danny Graham was the last straw for me! Johnson wasn’t my first choice as replacement boss but he has given us a chance of promotion and for that reason should be afforded some time. How many clubs could still mount a promotion challenge with the number of key position players unavailable? Yes it’s frustrating when LJ says he wants to play 4-3-3 and then plays 4-2-2-2 but we really don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, but we’re having to play 2 midfielders in defence along with a ½ maybe 2/3rd fit Bailey Wright. I’m sure we can get the 3 points in our last two regular games to guarantee a playoff spot and then who knows what may happen? We may do a Sunderland but then again maybe we won’t.

Whatever happens you have to trust that our new owner has a plan for next season whether it be the Championship or, God forbid, League One! Irrespective I’ve got may season card for next season and I for one can’t wait to be back at the Stadium of Light!

Dale Robson

Ed’s Note [Gav]: Totally agree Dale, we’re thinking along the same lines here. We’re in a horrendous run of form but the season hasn’t ended yet. Just need to keep the faith, even if the results are testing our collective patience a bit.

It’s mental we’re even in this position considering the start we had to the season. Craig pointed this out on the Podcast the other day - we barely gave ourselves a pre-season, recruited horribly, had loads of off-field crap going on with takeovers and stuff, and really we set ourselves up for a struggle from the off. Phil Parkinson was terrible and should have been peddled in the summer, and I firmly believe that had they done that, we’d have won the league.

Easy saying that in hindsight, of course. I have faith in Johnson, whether we go up or not. We have to stop hiring and firing managers, particularly ones that haven’t even had the opportunity to rebuild the squad they inherited.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Just read Johnson’s quote: “Black cats can not afford victim mentality” - as we see our best players left sitting on the bench or dropped from the team entirely.

Do we really believe that any player of class that disagrees with anything issued by the great and mighty manager is anything less than a victim?

This is plain to see and has been for some weeks now. The players are frightened to get on the wrong side of Mr Johnson and it is affecting the team big time.

David Cassap

Ed’s Note [Gav]: Is there any proof here or is this just another conspiracy theory? I’m curious to know which of our best players have been dropped from the team entirely. I guess you’re talking about Chris Maguire? If so, I’d like to see him play more, but he clearly doesn’t fancy him. Whether they’ve fallen out or not, nobody knows.

I doubt they’re frightened of him, he doesn’t seem like that type of manager.

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

Dear Roker Report,

At home this season we have gained 34pts, and 39pts away, and the next top scorer is Grant Leadbetter - that’s why we are in the playoffs.

Parkinson left us in 11th place so it was a uphill task for Johnson to get automatic promotion from the situation, including he also had the takeover to contend with which rumbled on for months.

In the playoffs we have to make home advantage count because we have to dominate teams at home. Wyke in the past has taken a lot of stick but this season without his goals we would be no where near the promotion places.

The lad has had a fantastic season, but he needs help in the games coming up. O’Brien is obviously not the answer - he’s been a big disappointment this season. Get Stewart in and play two wingers to get the service they need to create chances.

Midfield-wise, O’Nien has to be pushed back in there. Scowen brings nothing to the table; he creates nothing and goals wise, his record is horrendous.

Johnson hopefully will have Flanagan and McLaughlin back, but if not, get Younger in - give youth a chance for a change. The play offs are a lottery, but win three games and we are promoted simple as that.

It’s up to the players and manager now to perform and repay the fans, because this has been a horrible year for everyone. Please give us something to shout and smile about.

Mark Wild

Ed’s Note [Gav]: I’ve never really thought that scoring goals was a problem until recently, but you’re right. When you look at Posh and Hull, they share the goals around a lot more than we do. We’ve relied heavily on Wyke all season and whilst he’s been fairly consistent, we need our midfielders and defenders to chip in more.

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

Dear Roker Report,

Exiled down south for 45 years and latterly on the Isle of Wight, though born and bred in Sunderland I don’t get to see many matches.

I attended my first match at Roker Park in 1965 aged 8 and have maintained my support for thd past 56 years attending home and away matches when I can.

And in those years of support I don’t recall an end of season collapse quite as bad as this current one. Maybe it’s not, but there is no doubt our record since Good Friday has been astonishingly bad.

Personally I think this has been a lot down to the number of players out of contract at the end of season. Nineteen I believe. Players with little incentive to give their all. Whether promoted or not most know they will probably be released this summer and will continue their journeymen careers elsewhere in the lower leagues.

A situation that demonstrates the complete absence of foresight under the previous owners.

Just perhaps professional pride might return in May and we can turn around this dreadful April.

Keep up the good work Roker Report. Exiles depend on you.

Geoff Brodie, Isle of Wight

Ed’s Note [Gav]: See, I see this from the complete opposite perspective. The incentive is that if they get promoted, they get new deals and play in the Championship. They’ll all have hefty promotion bonuses too!

And thanks for the kind words, we appreciate everyone who takes the time to check in each day on the website and podcast.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Why why why wasn’t diamond on the pitch v Blackpool? In the previous game he was our outstanding player, running at defences and causing chaos.

The Blackpool back 4 was extremely good, cutting our long balls and crosses. It needed someone to run at them – Diamond!

I blame Johnson for this – he picks the team.

I have supported Sunderland all my life. My grandfather played for them – Bert Hobson. They were an outstanding team then. Now they are really pathetic! Supporting them is really difficult. Even my mate, who supports West Ham, watched the game and thought they were crap and couldn’t understand why Diamond was not playing. Oh, and why is Moyes doing so well with his team and was so dismal with us?

Ian Hobson

Ed’s Note [Gav]: I really like Jack Diamond and think he offers us a lot. I would have got him on early in the second half to run at them and give us a bit of life.

Re: Moyes... god, I have no idea. Probably cos there are no fans in the ground to boo him. West Ham fans weren’t having him the first time he was there!


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