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

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Fan Letters: ‘You can’t keep bringing in a new manager every season and expect it to work’

“We just can’t go around changing managers all the time, as every time you change you change the coaching team, the ethos and playing style, the type of player. You can’t keep bringing in a manager every season, changing half the squad, and expect it to work” says RR reader George Heighton.

Photo by Andrew Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

First time emailing in. As an exile and a long-time supporter, I have seen the highs and lows and the change of owners over and over since I was a teenager.

One thing for me is to give the man a chance. We have had bad luck with injuries in defence and Hume is a worry - is he an unfortunate player like Watmore who we may not ever have a full season out of, or difficult to keep fit? I hope not.

LJ has got a squad and got them playing well for what is a weaker squad when we went into League One. Unfortunately, the manager always gets the blame, but let's look at the whole picture. The squad he inherited we all know deep down apart from a few players weren’t good enough to push for automatic promotion. We have only started putting in all the staff that is needed to run a club since the tack over. We had no recruitment team, no Acadamy manager and I am sure the list goes on and on. We don’t know what the damage behind the scenes are and I guess we will never really know but bare-bones is all I can think of in my mind.

The wage cap didn’t help recruitment and only got dismissed after the transfer window, COVID meaning no crowds and match day revenue, which most likely includes sponsorship etc

LJ and team have a real chance if they don’t go up to the championship to get rid of players and build a team. We have an aged team, an inconsistent team. Or just not good enough? Take Gooch, on his day he plays well but how many good days to average or bad days does he have? Is he consistent enough does he produce the seven out of 10, week in week out? Burge has been okay, but I would be worried if we went into the Championship. I have friends who are Cov fans and are glad they got rid of him because of inconsistency.

We just can’t go around changing managers all the time, as every time you change you change the coaching team, the ethos and playing style, the type of player. You can’t keep bringing in a manager every season and changing half the squad and expect it to work.

I for one are excited both ways – going up or staying in League One. As I would like to see wholesale changes in the squad. Progression on youth – Embelton, Diamond, Neil, Hawkes, Younger, Patterson, and supplement it with older heads like Wright, Winchester. I would like to see consistent players week in week out, not a glimpse of talent one in every three of four games.

Every faithful fan,

George Heighton

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for the email George, and I agree on the whole. We need stability, we need to do things right behind the scenes, and that gives the manager the best chance to succeed.

For once, the club needs to stick with a manager – as fans, we’ve got used to the board weidling the axe after a bad spell of results, appoint someone else, rinse and repeat. And that turned out well, didn’t it? They’re putting a system in place behind the scenes to build a consistent and successful club. If they thought Johnson was the man to manage the team six months ago, when Kyril quite clearly said they’d stay calm if we didn’t go up, then what’s really changed? A bad spell of results with a team that’s failed to get us up a couple of times already?

We need to stick with a manager long-term. If the board believes Johnson’s the right chap, then we need to come along for the ride.

Sunderland AFC Training Session
Will Hawkes swoop into the first team next season?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Lincoln totally know how to play against us. Unless we make some radical changes on Saturday, it’s just going to prolong the misery. Play lads who Lincoln don’t know inside out already. Play the youth, play Maguire for God’s sake. Mix it up. Play Hawkes. Play Ollie Younger. Don’t start with Wyke - they know how to nullify him.

Play the same team again and it’s a guaranteed loss. Mix it up to give us a chance and something to sing about. Let’s get behind our young talent. Lincoln have a very young squad - why should we be scared to play our young lads. They’ll play their hearts out and that’s all we ask. If we lose then so be it, we would have lost anyway.

Go on LJ - I dare you to try it. This is our only hope.

Carl Mouter

Ed’s Note [Martin]: I agree to some extent, Carl – I’d certainly be making a few changes, including Stewart for Wyke, Diamond and Maguire starting, too. And why not have Hawkes on the bench?

Sunderland Training Session
‘Any plans for Saturday, Chris?’
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Yet again hopes and expectations dashed by a gutless and tepid performance.

I agree we had chances to change the game (Bailey Wright, Jones and McGeady) and if said chances had rippled the net we would be looking at a very different game this Saturday –but I can’t help feel a sense of Deja Vu.

The attitude of these players against Lincoln mirrored the squad who were relegated from the Premier League and then the championship. I feel we have a squad of overpaid championship club rejects who are happy to coast along in this league knowing they're picking up a final big payday pretending to give a damn.

Does that remind you of anyone?

If they go on to redeem themselves on Saturday and at Wembley then all I can say is whoopy doo. These guys should have had it done the first season of being in League One.

I like Lee Johnson but he needs to get in there today and tell these guys to get out there on Saturday and show they at least want to win games, show some fight and grit and at least give 10,000 fans something to cheers about. Because if they don't I guarantee it'll turn toxic very quickly and they'll want to crawl under the pitch never mind be lifeless on it.

Thanks, guys. Keep up the good work.

Anth Iley

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Saturday will be a huge test of character for all concerned, Anth. It’ll be a huge shame if, after 12 months plus the atmosphere’s not a positive one. An early goal and it’s game on.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 1st Leg
Can Johnson get the players up for Saturday?
Photo by Andrew Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

We will continue to watch Sunderland to the bitter end, even though our cries in the dark will fall on deaf ears! We have been heading for another failure for many months now, only flattering to deceive with the odd half-decent result. We knew we would lose in the play-off, you just had to watch Blackpool to know our fate.

Are we the only ones to speak the unspeakable?

Our only hope is that the mega-machine behind the new owners will dispatch Johnson quick time before one cheque is written, as we are destined to be EFL League One team next term. He is a fraud, inspiring no confidence in his abilities or his vision.

When I target him, that must also include his training staff. I see no pattern in his strategies, any quality in attack or defence, slow lethargic build up, little sign of training ground glimpses of brilliance. Only more of the same, no use of our youth, no punishment for failures on the pitch. Predictable team sheets versus stupid, panicky changes or mass substitutions mid-game.

Any rebuild must start with a new, quality manager, attracted by the cheque book if necessary, but not Johnson, or I for one will not watch again until he’s gone.

The players must take their share of the blame but Johnson is clueless on how t get the best out of them.

Jeff, Durham

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thought you were watching till the bitter end, Jeff?! Of course, Lee Johnson has to take some responsibility for the poor run we went on. However, the players have to take a huge share of the blame too. I’ve seen things I’ve been impressed with from Johnson, and things I haven’t been impressed with. But to sack a manager after six months for failing with a team that’s failed for two other managers, and to not give him the opportunity to build his own side, simply reeks of making exactly the same mistakes we’ve made over the past decade. And that didn’t turn out well at all.

Sunderland v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
Big decisions ahead for KLD?
Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Oh, every time we get a new manager we excel then fall apart as we have so aptly done again this season, despite the boost given by what appears to be a more visionary new owner.

So what can be still wrong at the heart of the club?

Frankly get rid of all the nonperformers/incompetents, especially our goalkeeper.

The challenge then doesn’t appear to be money available for transfers but the ability to be able to attract the players we need to a seriously underperformed League One side.

The task looks daunting but frankly, I am not unhappy at being knocked out by Lincoln as this is far better than having the ignominy of being thrashed at Wembley by Blackpool.

Peter Blenkinsop

Ed’s Note [Martin]: We’re not out of it yet, Peter – plenty of football to be played. We all know we need a major change in playing personnel – after all, these players have, bar a handful of them, failed to get us promoted twice already. In a couple of days time it could be three times.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 1st Leg
The League One keeper of the year – do we need better?
Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

So annoyed that Bursik was allowed to play. Lincoln City have had the same lad on the bench 45 times this season yet he is deemed not good enough to play when needed. We haven’t had a proper full back all season. Sign Alexander-Arnold and Alonso today!

Eric Bowers

Ed’s Note [Martin]: It left a bitter taste in the mouth didn’t it Eric? It may have been within the rules of the game, but I don’t think it’s in the spirit of the game.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 1st Leg
Bursik pulls off another save
Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

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