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Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 1st Leg

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Fan Letters: ‘An absolute joke that we could spend four seasons in League One!’

The RR mailbag was filling up as soon as the whistle went at Sincil Bank giving views on players, the manager and what we do next - let us know if you agree, email us with your views:

Photo by Andrew Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Looks like another defeat in the play-offs. Have we ever won the play-offs?

Certainly not in my lifetime.

A typical Sunderland performance in league one, control large parts of the game yet do nothing with the ball. One real chance, when Bailey Wright hit the bar, which he should have scored, other than that I don’t remember anything being created. I read before the game that Appleton had a game plan, which would have been, stop McGeady, stop balls into the box and you’ll be fine. We’re so one dimensional. No creativity in midfield.

As we came into the play-offs everyone was so downbeat and certain we’d lose I actually managed to convince myself we’d win it. But let’s be honest, even if we somehow manage to overturn this 2-0 deficit, then surely Blackpool will beat us. But in a two horse race anything can happen.

Some people may think this is harsh, but, is Charlie Wyke the worst centre-forward to score thirty plus goals in a season for Sunderland?

He is so static and weak and he rarely wins a header. Unless it’s on a plate for him he won’t score. Personally, and again people will think this is mental due to his goal contribution over the season, but, I think he’s more of a hindrance than a help.

I read that he got the fans player of the season, who votes for this? I’ve been a season ticket holder for years and I’ve never been asked to vote.

I know things are going to change at Sunderland with this new owner, but I can’t bare the thought of another season in this division. I hate it. It’s embarrassing that we ended up there and an absolute joke that we’re more than likely going to spend four seasons there.

I’m sure Saturday will be a good atmosphere, especially if we get the first goal, so all hope is not lost. Let’s just hope that McGeady can up with something, because if he doesn’t, no one else will.

Keep the faith,

Dom Walsh

Ed’s Note [Chris]: I think the main issue around Charlie Wyke is that he’s been for the most part this season, our only option, instead of being a tactic we could go to it has ended up being our plan A, plan B, plan C and so on.

The difference at Plymouth when we had a mobile striker stretching the game was night and day and it gives the opposition something else to think about.

Otherwise, opposition managers will know to simply double up out wide to stop the crosses, and tell a big central defender to jump on his back when the ball comes forward and you have successfully nullified all Sunderland have to offer.

We need something else on Saturday, but if Stewart isn’t fully fit, I’m not sure what that is.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 1st Leg Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Lee Johnson said Sunderland would come out of the traps flying. Tonight I saw a team come out of the traps racing on one leg asleep.

I’m fed up of hearing out squad and club giving it the big one in front of the papers then it turn up. Why do they always big it up but then never perform? What is the answer for SAFC to be successful?

Macka Pakka

Ed’s Note [Chris]: I’m not sure what the game plan was in the first half. It didn’t look like a high press to put us on the front foot and take the initiative, nor did it look like we wanted to control the game and keep it tight. Hopefully we’ll see from the off in the second leg.

The answer to long term success will possibly come, with a bit of luck, with the implementation of the plan outlined by Kristjaan Speakman in recent months. But this isn’t a quick fix.

Dear Roker Report,

On that performance pulling a two goal deficit back looks bleak. The first thirty minutes we were dreadful, no pace or creativity, Lincoln controlled the game and it sums the whole season up we can not string a ninety-minute performance together.

Bailey Wright’s miss changed the game for me. Then the frailties on the left side of the defence were exposed again and to round it off a goalkeeping error. He should have launched the clearance into the stand it was handled by the Lincoln player but the refereeing in this league is shocking.

To think Johnson has had ten days with the players in training that performance was inexcusable there was no game plan. The players should have been on it from the first whistle and for Johnson to say we will have to be on Saturday that’s stating the obvious mate you are supposed to get the players motivated and set up from the first whistle.

The truth is over the season we have not been good enough and the unwillingness to use younger players from the squad has been a shocking decision by Johnson. The Lincoln game he has to go for it - three in midfield does not work, Power and Scowen will not get you goals they are far too negative.

The fans will be an extra man on Saturday but if the lads don’t turn in a performance to match the support they will crucify them and Johnson. Please for once let’s play for ninety minutes with heart and desire and have a go and whatever the result may be if 100% effort is given that’s all we the fans can ask for.

At the end of the season whatever happens there is going to be wholesale changes and Kyril has big decisions to make and the lad has the balls to make them.

Mark Wild

Ed’s Note [Chris]: I don’t think it’s any secret that we’ll see big changes in the summer Mark and that is irrespective of what level we’ll be plying our trade. This isn’t Lee Johnson’s side and he’s tried to work with what he has which has been decimated by injuries, especially at the back.

His man-management skills were working at some point to get us in the mix, he needs to really pull a rabbit out of the hat on Saturday.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 1st Leg Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Hope you’re all well ahead of this horrific week of nerves!

Do you know if there’s a specific pub/couple of pubs in London where SAFC fans will be heading for the home leg on Saturday 22nd?

Hopefully one of the network knows of a capital spot where a few of us will be!

Adam Hay

Ed’s Note [Chris]: If anyone can help Adam out for Saturday, get in touch with Roker Report on twitter (@RokerReport) and we can put it out there, or check out the Sunderland message board.

Dear Roker Report,

Just the other day I saw a picture of a very happy man celebrating his team’s cup semi-final win and thought I recognised him. It was of course Jack Ross, who had just managed Hibernian to Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final against St Johnstone.

Not being familiar with Scottish football, I then checked the league table and was very surprised to see Hibernian had finished third behind the old firm clubs. From what I remember, Hibernian were not in a very good state when Jack Ross took over and he can’t really be such a bad manager to have achieved this in such a short time.

I liked Jack Ross and thought that he got a very bad deal at Sunderland - with just a little more luck at Wembley we could easily have ended up in the Championship and good luck to him in Saturday’s final.

I’m not saying that we should have him back but I think that Sunderland fans need to reflect on his current achievements and realise that he wasn’t a bad manager. He took over a club in crisis after relegation and did a pretty good job of stopping the decline, taking us within a whisker of promotion.

Stewart and co. let him down big time when they sold Maja and replaced him with Grigg, a player who Ross didn’t want. I have always thought that the crazy 5-4 match with Coventry was the thing that knocked him out of his stride but that was down to player indiscipline rather than the manager.

To replace him with Parky has to be one of the most stupid managerial decisions ever made by SAFC and maybe he just needed more time and support from the board. Let’s just hope that Lee Johnson has a lot more luck and support than Jack Ross ever did, and that he can finally lead us out of this horrible league in the next two weeks.

Mike Painter

Ed’s Note [Chris]: When Jack Ross took over there was a real risk we would keep sliding and not get close to going straight back up. In the end he was a penalty and a last minute goal away from promotion and cup double, despite having the rug being pulled from under him in January.

However, I think it was the right decision for him to go when he did, it was getting the appointment that followed terribly wrong that was the biggest mistake.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Why doesn’t LJ put on Josh Hawkes, even if it’s just for 20-30 mins?

He can’t do any worse than the shambles of Wednesday night and he’s banging them in for the U23s regularly.

On the subject of Wednesday night, the defence was a debacle and the second goal was farcical. I don’t think LJ is the man to lead SAFC, the honeymoon’s over get rid and we have a whole close season to replace him.

Bill Harding

Ed’s Note [Chris]: I’ve never seen Josh Hawkes play so have no idea if he’s ready or not for first team football, but with how ineffective Wyke was up top on his own I wouldn’t mind seeing some sort of change. Even it’s to throw him up alongside Wyke and play two or even three up front if we’re desperate.

On the subject of Lee Johnson, I think he’s struggled with the options we have in the squad along with the injury list he has had to navigate, and deserves a crack at the job having built a team that plays the way he wants to play. It was a long term plan when he was appointed so let’s see what happens in the summer.

Dear Roker Report,

I am sure the young chairman can see what he has bought and is aware of the sweeping changes needed.

I can see a continental manager being brought in with his own staff. Then clear most of these crap players out and restock with fresh younger players, who will earn their wages and not just have to turn up to receive them.

I have watched with interest this season and with most pundits praising Wyke for his goal scoring, I still can’t find out how many simple goals he has missed, that a proper centre-forward would have added to his total.

In my opinion, he is not the great goal scorer that he thinks he is. I would like see most of the end of contract players released as soon as possible, I don’t think they will be snapped up anywhere above League Two.

Good luck to the chairman for his commitment and endeavour to make SAFC a team to be proud to support once again.


Ed’s Note [Chris]: I’d worry about a continental manager at this level without experience of League One and for me Lee Johnson deserves a summer window for us to at least see what direction he wants to take this team.

See above for my comments on Charlie Wyke, I think his limitations in the system we play means if the opposition stop us getting the ball into the box then we quickly run out of ideas.


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