Dear Roker Report,
This recruitment period we have to get right. For year after year we seem to panic and end up signing late deals that end up with players who play odd games and that's it. For the last four seasons we have needed pace in the side and an attacking midfielder and a mobile forward everyone can see it.
But alas every season its sign side passing midfielders whose goals ratio per game is horrendous and forwards with no pace. Reading the report of the U23 match against Palace, they ran and worked together as a unit it’s not rocket science; if we can get that attitude we will go up next season.
Johnson not playing youngsters bit him in the arse in the playoffs so he has to use them next season. Johnson’s bizarre comment we need to sign players that don’t get injured wow why say that! It’s part of the game and his job to ensure we don’t have loads of injuries during the season and the way he handled it last season was woeful. For one he brought McLaughlin back too early and Willis and Stewart so he brought them injuries on himself by bad management. Next season Johnson has to lose the streaky tag for certain or he is a dead man walking. If we can play like we did in the first half against Lincoln we will not be far away from promotion.
The simple fact is in the last four seasons we have drawn too many games and we have not made our home games count. The way Johnson wants the team to play is to pressurise for ninety minutes. Sorry, but you can not keep that up for ninety minutes all season - hence all the injuries and his streaky record tag, players are not robots. Next season there will be games where we have to grind results out and change tactics is he the man to do it? The simple fact is this season we had it in our own hands to go up automatically or in the play offs and failed.
Football is a harsh business result driven we can not be streaky it's all about being consistent week in week out. The next few weeks big decisions have to be made because I think it will be a harder challenge to go up next season.
We have the right owner in place he has been a breath of fresh air around the club and the structure is there for success. The fans will always back the team 100% all we want to see is heart and desire from the players and consistent performances for ninety minutes. I say it every season surely that’s not a lot to ask for please get us smiling again and get this great club moving forward.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Alright there again, Mark. I think it’s really easy to stumble upon a label like “streaky” and then construct a narrative around it, finding scraps of evidence to back yourself up. I don’t think it’s at all bizarre to look to sign players who have a good track record of being physically resilient and staying injury free, and being extraordinarily diligent in the medical checks that are done before players sign on the dotted line for Sunderland.
Far too often we’ve taken a punt on players who’ve had difficulty with injury in the past, hoping that they’ll be able to be put right or stay right once they’re here. Overall, given the injury situation he inherited, which never significantly improved and indeed grew to the point we finished the season with one or two half fit senior defenders at the club, Johnson can be excused for “rushing back” the likes of Stewart and McLaughlin. The best teams can press for 90 minutes; you’ve just got to recruit players that can achieve that. Bielsa has managed it at Leeds, for example, and I believe that if we give Johnson time and resources, he could achieve something similar during his tenure here.
Dear Roker Report,
Whilst I agree on Aiden McGeady’s attributes and if he was a few years younger I would move heaven and earth to keep him at the club...... However, he is being paid a king's ransom and is hampering our efforts to bring in several quality players. He obviously has his magic spells but at 35 cannot do it over 90 minutes. He does little defensively and tracking back and there are also large spells of the game where you don’t even realise he is on the pitch.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Hi Ann, thanks for your letter. As I understand it, McGeady took a 50 per cent pay cut in order to stay at Sunderland when his contract was last renegotiated and I can’t imagine he’ll be offered a million pound contract for another year in League 1.
I agree with you that he’s likely to be a fading star next season as his age catches up with him but, personally, I was astounded by the pace and stamina he displayed when reinstalled in the side this season. Yes, defensively he’s a bit of a liability, but like many have said before me - a player of his creative talents shouldn't be doing too much tracking back at this level.
Dear Roker Report,
I will be very interested to see how we go about making sure the promising young players are kept here with new contracts when applicable – even extended ones in some cases. If we keep them, then, to me that is a proper statement of intent with regard to how we proceed. LJ will have his own team next season so if he can lose the ‘streaky’ tag and build a team more appropriate to his kind of football – that can last for 90 minutes, not just 45 then we’ll be there at the end. Automatic please, Can’t take any more play off disasters.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Hi Chris, thanks for your letter. It’s going to be so important to see how Johnson brings those from the impressive Under 23 squad through to the first team; they’ve been so impressive in Premier League 2 Division 2 this season and surely the manager has been suitably impressed as to give them a proper shot this time round. And yes, no more playoffs please, I’m going grey quickly enough as it is.