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

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Fan Letters: “The fans and the club have got to look forward!”

More reaction from the RR mailbag on the scenes inside and outside of the Stadium of Light, as well as thoughts on the managers future. Email us with your views:

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

Dear Roker Report,

Good afternoon,

I’m afraid that I don’t share the Ed’s viewpoint re keeping Johnson and I hope KLD doesn’t neither. I understand the need for consistency and to stop the merry-go-round of managers. Let us look at what we have in front of us.

A new owner who thinks he can make a difference. He has a strategy and is now putting a structure in place to complement that strategy, i.e. the recent appointments in the development of the academy.

There are glimpses that the academy could begin to work as it should - feeding the first team. The U23s have had a good season In comparison to their last campaign.

There are countless players out of contract in the first team, players that the club has amassed from previous managers. There is a unique opportunity for the next manager to come in and have a blank canvas, to sculpture something of purpose. This is what Lincoln did at the end of last season. The question to be asked is is Lee Johnson that man? In my opinion, he is not.

In truth we were lucky to get into the play-offs. Our form going into the play-offs was woeful, at one point the worst in the division. LJ was unable to halt the demise. He was blind to see what was happening in front of him (or stubborn) - the opposition continually attacking Sunderland’s left flank where the hapless Callum McFadzean could be found.

He became known as the tinker man, making changes for change's sake. The same players kept on underperforming and still he wouldn’t look at what he had in the U23’s. In many respects, he repeated the errors he made at Bristol and hadn’t learned from them. LJ never had a settled team and that was generally down to him tinkering.

We did have a bad run with injuries in defence which did not help matters. Let us not be fooled by the emergence of Dion Sanderson, Johnson only played him as a last resort when we ran out of defenders.

He knew nothing of Luke O’Nien and where best to play him. By his own admission, the wrong team sheet had been handed into match officials on several occasions. He cannot claim credit for the emergence of Embleton at Blackpool, that is down to EE himself. The faithful knew EE was something special, the same could be said of Dan Neil.

I’m afraid to say that Johnson’s tenure at Sunderland needs to be a short one. Failure to act now is only putting off the inevitable. LJ the Teflon Sunderland manager - takes the credits but not when he gets things wrong.

KLD has a plan, he is putting the right pegs in the right holes only that LJ is a square peg in the right hole.

I’m sure that others will disagree but that is what forums like this are all about. Only time will tell. Will I eat humble? I’d love to but I fear that I won’t be.

Danny Cain

Ed’s Note [Chris]: You could well be proven right in the fullness of time Danny and I’m sure Kristjaan Speakman will ultimately assess Lee Johnson’s performance on it’s merits with everything taken into account.

There’s no doubt that for some Lee Johnson will be on borrowed time if he does continue into next season, but I think he deserves a crack at the job with a squad that he has some say in. He made mistakes and he’ll be the first to admit it but in many ways he was hamstrung by the squad at his disposal and the injuries we had within it.

The advantage of our new structure is that our recruitment isn’t designed or dictated by the manager as it was last summer to fit his style. It will be done from the sporting director level which should hopefully provide continuity on the pitch whoever the manager might be.

New Sunderland Manager Press Conference Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I would like to make some suggestions as to where we went wrong after the good run of results from 2nd March till 10th April.

Home wins against Swindon, Rochdale, away wins against Portsmouth, Accrington Stanley, Bristol Rovers, then a home draw against Lincoln. A good win at home over Oxford, and a draw away with Peterborough.

Then it seemed we did not want get in the play-offs? Taking into consideration of injuries we had especially to our defence, Denver Hulme, Bailey Wright and then our best defender Dion Sanderson. We lost at home to Charlton, away to Wigan and Blackpool (our loan deal regarding Elliott Embleton to them was a give-away).

When we played away at leaders Hull, we got a credible draw and a comment made by their manager was he predicted his team and Sunderland were good enough for the top two to qualify for automatic promotion

Then everything went pear-shaped - we won at home to Accrington Stanley, lost at home to Blackpool, won away at Plymouth, and then drew 1-1 at home with Northampton on final day.

Conclusion: once again too many draws as in previous year and we took loans in which would give us players who had pace in Jordan Jones, Ross Stewart (who came in unfit and did not figure for a few games).

Embleton would have been another good choice for our midfield.

Will he be allowed to play against Lincoln in final?

Norman Griffin

Ed’s Note [Chris]: Yes Norman, it did go pear-shaped and it was quite clear that we became one dimensional after we’d hit a good run of form relying on the McGeady-Wyke route of scoring. Once opposition sides had sussed the fact that they could double up out wide and suffocate the impact of Wyke with two big central defenders we struggled to come up with new ideas. I’d like to think our squad will have options next season.

Blackpool v Oxford United - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg
Eliott Embleton has impressed on-loan at Blackpool this season
Photo by Paul Greenwood - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I have just finished watching two videos. One on that featured the dignified and intelligent head coach of our football club who, during his post-match interview, eloquently stated that “the fans were brilliant today” and the other one was mobile phone footage on twitter featuring a small group of incoherent yobs portraying themselves as Sunderland fans hatefully and obscenely confronting the decent man who had earlier been praising them!

I was 10 years old when my dad took me to Roker Park to watch my first match and I have faithfully followed the lads ever since. I am now 75 years old and the behaviour of these so-called fans, and some of the disgraceful social media content currently being spewed out, has disgusted and appalled me so much that I am seriously considering whether I wish to be associated with a club that attracts this kind of negative attention.

Some of our “supporters” need a serious reality check. When Lee Johnson was appointed we were the eighth-best team in League One and only five months later we were fourth and had won our first trophy since 1973 despite the club being closed down because of a Covid infection, disruptions caused by a change of ownership and long term injuries to ALL of our senior defenders. I’ll bet that even the “sack the manager” brigade couldn’t come up with a fantasy managerial candidate who could have bettered that performance.

Roker Report Ed. (Martin) states in response to Liam Maynard’s letter “All of us at Roker Report absolutely and unequivocally condemn this sort of behaviour” I realise that we live in a democracy and allowing free speech is paramount to our way of life but could I respectfully suggest that Roker Report puts its money where it’s mouth is and censors some of the negative and offensive comments posted by the usual suspects that never have anything positive to contribute.

If required, I can provide a list of the aliases that they use when they post their bile. They are relatively few in number but empty vessels can make a lot of noise!

Hopefully, the real Sunderland supporters who are as disgusted with Saturday’s embarrassing scenes as I and the other Fan Letters contributors are will get behind KLD, Lee Johnson and our new players and show them that the majority of us are loyal and knowledgeable fans who appreciate what they are trying to achieve for us.

Robert Skinner

Ed’s Note [Chris]: I couldn’t agree more with you Robert and I couldn’t agree more with Martin’s response to previous letters on the subject. Any right minded person would have viewed the scenes in the same way and I like you was embarrassed of a section of our fanbase only hours after being so proud of we backed the lads on our first trip back to the stadium for over a year.

It’s the same cross-section who post abusive messages on social media and it’s a symptom of modern society that these people can be pointed out again and again but yet are able to come back and repeat their actions.

I do hope you remember it’s the minority who act in this way Robert, whether it’s scenes like we saw outside of the stadium or the usual suspects online, and come back once again to support the lads next season.

Sunderland v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
Sunderland’s chairman Kyril Louis-Dreyfus has a big summer ahead
Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Reference the edition of fan letters about the abuse of the manager for not coming around to applaud the fans. I was at the match on Saturday, right behind the North Stand goal.

After full-time LJ came across along with a number of the players and applauded the fans. Now I did stay for much longer than 10 mins after the whistle, but he was making his way around the ground applauding the fans.

Obviously, these morons wanted a personal handshake from him. Well, tough $#i7.

So morons. Take a step back and think about what he had done in the six months or so he’s been the manager. Won at Wembley first time since 1973. Got us into the playoffs with a mediocre team.

This is now HISTORY, we and the club have got to look forward, and I think with KLD that will happen.

BUT it is a slow process, starting from the bottom again.

BUT with everything crossed, we’ll be at the top by May 2022.

Haway the Lads.


Ed’s Note [Chris]: Regardless of their views on their performance or the fact they didn’t get a personal handshake after the game, the scenes we saw are still not the way to get their point across. There’s a way to do it, and that isn’t it.

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

Dear Roker Report,

We are in league one for the fourth season. I’m as disappointed as the next fan. It took Leeds 6/7 years to get out of it.

It was a long trek but they got back to where we want to be. That’s our target. On Saturday I watched the match from the South Stand (not my usual place) and believe me I’m 74 years old and I haven’t felt so emotionally like that for a long time.

It sounded like that there were 50,000 fans at the SoL. I’m sure our young owner was very impressed. Please, young man, give us a team to be proud of and you won’t know what hit you. The place will be packed and rocking. Keep believing.

Anthony DeGiovanni

Ed’s Note [Chris]: I agree Anthony, I’d prefer to focus on how our fans were inside the ground rather than outside of the stadium and hopefully the new owner can understand he has sampled a small taste of what this can be.


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