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

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Fan Letters: “Some of the decisions made by Lee Johnson need to be questioned!”

The RR mailbag is full of ideas and opinions about next seasons squad already, as well as more opinion on the treatment of the Sunderland manager. Email us with your views:

Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

First and foremost, I’m fully behind LJ, KS and LKD. The recent SAFC unfiltered podcasts are a fascinating listen and I had to then listen back to your very own RR podcasts with Stuart Donald, to firstly recognise the vast difference in operational and football knowledge but also then frustrate myself at how I got sucked into it in the first instance.

In hindsight it was so obvious. It angers me that vile Charlie Methvan has any financial relationship with this club still. If I’m honest I’ve missed going to our games so much that I wasn’t as obsessed with getting out of League One as I normally would be, as long as I’m just able to follow us home and away next year. Saturday was fantastic, and the atmosphere blew my mind for such a low attendance.

I anticipated a dip in form after watching our abysmal performance away to Shrewsbury. I was gobsmacked that LJ got any tune out of those players albeit temporarily. What I’m confused by is the recent dropping of Carl Winchester, LJs very own signing. I was impressed with him and is a tick in LJs transfer judgment so why drop him when he’s evidently better than every midfielder that has come in for him?

Next season really does require a complete change of squad. They are ALWAYS the most exciting summers for us fans - that Di Canio window had me believing European domination was inevitable within two years.

We must reduce the age and get rid of those players I’d consider ‘decent’ but with no potential for improvement and can’t play in a style that will take us forward - McLaughlin, Power, Scowen, Wyke, O’Brien etc. We must be brave and bring in players with a high ceiling but will need to develop as they play - Dan Neil being a good example.

Final thought, very excited by Ross Stewart, I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet and he’s showing something quite different to our previous forwards.


(who shares disgust at the minority who abuse players and manager)

Ed’s Note [Chris]: Well they came in with a plan and they have yet to implement it yet. We came close to getting promoted when in reality we were limping along from the opening day of the season. We never at any point looked convincing bar the odd game or the odd half here and there.

Next season we’ll be forced to have an overhaul due to the number of players out of contract but there could also be players under contract told they can leave as well. It presents an early chance for the recruitment team to build a side with the attributes they have identified we need in each position moving forward as well as the possibility of youngsters stepping up.

Could be an interesting summer.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Papa John’s Trophy
Will Dan Neil have a bigger part to play next season?
Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’ve read a lot of doom and gloom merchants calling for LJ to be replaced and bemoaning how bad the team was since Saturday. Do they all forget where we were in December when LJ came in?! We were languishing outside the play off positions and in a downward spiral.

Since then our performance levels have massively improved, the football has been better to watch and we came so close to automatic promotion and then almost via the play-offs.

All this with the worst defensive injury crisis I can remember and a squad that couldn’t realistically be improved in January due to the ridiculous salary cap ruling. Yes we fell short, but personally I thought the first 45 minutes on Saturday is the best football we’ve played in five seasons!

Now is the time to get behind the new regime, including Lee Johnson, and rebuild. There are already the bones of a new squad at the club. Add 5 new signings and let the rest go. Wyke’s had his season that will give him a Championship move.

Keep Burge along with Patterson; Wright, Xhemajli, Willis and Younger are good options in the centre of defence; keep Hume and sign a new LB as cover; keep McLaughlin and sign another RB; Diamond & Gooch on the Right; try to keep McGeady and sign either Jones or an alternative on the Left; O’Nien, Embleton, Neil, Winchester & Scowen provide a good CM mix with possibly a new holding midfielder; Stewart, Hawkes, Kimpioka along with another new striker.

One thing’s for sure, the true fans will be behind the team in August whatever happens.


Ed’s Note [Chris]: We had a pre-season being drilled in the ultra-conservative methods of Phil Parkinson that required a reset in December with a squad that was shaped to play in a certain way. On top of that we had the injuries at the back and the fact that we were going through the January transfer window in the midst of a takeover that created uncertainty.

Despite the reasons, Lee Johnson will know only too well that the jury is still out on his position as manager and it will be interesting to see the recruitment during the summer and how we shape up next season.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Have we seen the last of Aiden McGeady in a Sunderland shirt?
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’m really frustrated as most Sunderland fans that this was not to be third time lucky. Some of the decisions made by LJ need to be questioned with transparent answers.

Why did he let Embleton go in loan to a rival when he should be a first team regular? Imagine if Embleton scores or provides the winner at Wembley.

Why did he not pick Maguire regularly as he is a proven match winner?

Why did he not give Hawkes a game or two especially the last meaningless match against Northampton? Hawkes would have been a fantastic substitute in last few games. He is now wanted by West Ham and Leeds as well as other clubs and this will be another class player leaving Sunderland - such a shame.

Why was he always selecting Scowen and McFadzean?

Why was Jones not used in the second half against Lincoln when we desperately needed a goal?

I think LJ lost the plot when the good run ended and didn’t have a Plan B.

Let’s hope we go up next year :)


Harish Shah

Ed’s Note [Chris]: I think a lot fans have question marks against Lee Johnson after we tailed off towards the end of this season and I think in some cases the scrutiny is deserved.

A lot of questions above can be answered in terms of the squad he inherited. For one reason or another he was left with Charlie Wyke as his only striker which meant we were frustratingly struggling for a plan B.

Embleton possibly needed a change of scenery to get games under his belt. I’ve always been a fan but he always seemed to breakdown if he was in and out of the side at Sunderland which was likely to be the case. With a bit of luck we get a better player because of it instead of losing him in the summer which was the most likely outcome.

Sunderland AFC Training Session
Will Josh Hawkes be given an opportunity in the first team next season?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Hi, my name is George Walmsley and I been life long Sunderland fan and I thought it was a disgrace the way he (Lee Johnson) was treated.

I remember going to watch Sunderland when we were in the lower league in the 80s. So when we got in Premier League I think we attracted a new bunch of fans, glory hunters, because they probably never went to the games when we were in lower leagues last time.

I think Johnson has done a good job - it’s Moyes who fucked us.


George Walmsley

Ed’s Note [Chris]: It was the usual minority who think this was the way to act. It’s simply not the way to act. I was embarrassed and I’m sure plenty of other people were.

I’d also be amazed if we have ever attracted any sort of fan who were looking for a club to support to be a glory hunter. I’ve been going 30-odd years and I’m still waiting George!

Let’s see what happens next season - we go again.


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