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Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg

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Fan Letters: RR reader Liam says “It’s totally unacceptable for the fans to behave in this way”

The video of people confronting Lee Johnson after full time has hugely disappointed RR reader Liam, who says he’s “appalled and disturbed” by what happened. Email us with your views:

Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I am quite frankly appalled and disturbed by a video I have seen on social media of our fans waiting for Lee Johnson outside of the Stadium of Light after our semi-final defeat to Lincoln.

The video shows the fans verbally attacking him as he left, shouting that he asked the fans to come along and he didn’t applaud them.

Now I understand the devastation and disappointment that the result brings but is waiting outside of the stadium and abusing the manager on his first encounter with the fans really the way to vent that? Charlie Methven was quoted as suggesting that the fans were somehow part of the problem at Sunderland… now I am starting to see what he meant!

To put things into perspective, we won today’s game 2-1. In any other situation, the fans would have been leaving the stadium delighted with the win and their team's performance. Yes, we didn’t perform away to Lincoln on Wednesday night but today, in front of our home fans, the team did put in a decent performance.

I am just frustrated with this sort of behaviour. Lee Johnson, like any football manager, is only human. Now, will he still have the same motivation and hunger to build a team capable of getting out of this league after this encounter today? Will he now feel a sense of resentment against the fans?

It's totally unacceptable for the fans to behave in this way and really does paint us to be a fickle bunch. We won't ever attract a decent owner, decent manager or decent players if we behave in this way.

Liam Maynard

Ed’s Note [Martin]: The huge majority of our supporters are fantastic - the way the crowd got behind the team in the first half especially shows just what has been missing. Unfortunately, we have an element who’ll do disgraceful stuff like they did on Saturday. We’ve seen a load of horrendous things posted on social media directed at players too, which just isn’t acceptable. Yes, everyone’s disappointed and frustrated, but there’s a way of dealing with it – and that certainly wasn’t it. All of us at Roker Report absolutely and unequivocally condemn this sort of behaviour – it’s certainly not reflective of the club or the vast majority of supporters. Unfortunately, it tarnishes all of us.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Back in the ground
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

For many years we’ve seen many a change in the club.

Since our last promotion to the Premier League under Roy Keane, we’ve seen 14 different permanent managers, 2 changes of ownership and countless amounts of different squads going through wholesale ‘rebuilds’ each summer.

One thing that has never changed... The fans.

Be it selling out away games up and down the country, from trips up to Hibernian in pre-season down to Plymouth Argyle battling in League One. There’s no doubt, on our day, our fans can be some of the best in the country. That never changes and I doubt ever will.

However, the main thing that needs to change, regarding our fan base, is the support of the manager.

I was as unhappy as the next fan leaving the SoL after watching our club brace themselves for another season in the third tier. Looking back and reminiscing over going 18 unbeaten, it WAS in our hands.

When Lee Johnson came in, it was most definitely NOT in our hands. He came in to inherit the worst Sunderland squad, I personally, have ever seen. Countless injuries, COVID outbreaks, threadbare options and playing two games a week. He had to soldier on.

I’m not saying he’s going to be our very own Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola. Given the hand he was dealt, he achieved what neutrals thought was not possible.

The video that surfaced of fans shouting at the manager that brought us silverware, albeit not major silverware, reminded me of the scene from STID when Chris Coleman had to endure the same treatment. It makes my skin crawl just watching it. Humiliating.

KLD buying the club is supposed to a fresh start, so why don’t we start fresh properly? Forget the days of Premier League survival battles and cup runs. We are where we are.

Get behind the new regime, stop the constant pressure on the dugout and players. Get behind them and reap the rewards. The fans were the very reason we went into HT level in the tie, fantastic efforts from everybody showing what support can do. It was just unfortunate the damage was done on Wednesday.

Rebuild (again) in the summer, come back and get at them!

Ha’way the Lads.

Dominic Smith

Ed’s Note [Martin]: I agree Dominic – I read somewhere that since Keane left we’ve had 18 different people managing the club (caretaker or full time) – Sbragia, Bruce, Black, O’Neill, Di Canio, Ball, Poyet, Advocaat, Allardyce, Moyes, Grayson, Stockdale, Coleman, Stockdale again, Ross, Fowler, Parkinson, Taylor and Johnson. West Ham have had 18 different managers in their history. Doesn’t take Poirot to work out where the problem lies. Over the past few seasons we’ve been owned by people who don’t care about building a football club – they’ve wanted ‘success’ at all costs. We’ve got potentially the best chance in a generation to build something successful and meaningful with KLD. Hopefully a handful of ‘fans’ shouting a the manager don’t compromise that.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Premier League
18 different managers including caretakers since this man left 12 and a half years ago...
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

It is often suggested to us that we “Keep The Faith”. I have one question. Why?

Richard Stainbank

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Because it’s what we do. It’s all we can do.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I just wanna get your thoughts on where SAFC goes from here.

Who leaves the club and who do they bring in?

Alexander Sayler-Tait

Ed’s Note [Martin]: There’ll be wholesale changes Alexander, that’s one thing you can bank on. Firstly, the club needs to decide whether Johnson’s the man to take on next season – I hope they decide he is, for the sake of continuity as much as anything else, however they’ve got to balance that with the awful run of form we’ve been on, and the hangover that will inevitably linger into next season. From there, we’ll see the recruitment model that’s been put in place in action – bar Hume and O’Nien I wouldn’t be sorry to see any players who are out of contract leave, and we need to build a team that’s capable of maintaining the drive and enthusiasm we saw in the first half on Saturday for the duration of the season. It’s not going to be quiet!

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg
The last we’ll see of O’Nien in a Sunderland shirt?
Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’m so frustrated it’s hard to put into words.

Football management is a game of tactics and adjustments. What does Lee Johnson say to these guys at half-time? How do we get so badly outplayed in the second half of games time and again?

Please explain LJs tactics for me. Down a goal late and he leaves Jones on the bench to bring on a defender in Flanagan? He refuses to bring Maguire off the bench only to start him in the second leg? I don’t think LJ is going anywhere but he seems so clueless and unsure of himself.


Max in the USA

Ed’s Note [Martin]: The change in performance from first half to second was stark. As soon as the second half began it was clear we were sitting deeper to try to soak up what Lincoln would throw at us, but we’re not good enough defensively to do that and we quickly paid the price. Whether that was Johnson’s instructions or the team doing it naturally I don’t know, but I’d suggest it’s the former, which is a concern. His treatment of Maguire has, quite frankly, been bizarre, and he certainly doesn’t know his best team. However, only Stewart and Winchester are his players and he’s been trying to get a tune out of players who he doesn’t necessarily want, who are on their way out, and who’ve failed to get us up three times now. The time to really judge him is midway through next season, until then, all we can do is hope!

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Lots to think about
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

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