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Fan Letters: “All fans ask for is heart, desire and hard graft!”

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The nerves are jangling amongst the Sunderland faithful ahead of the summer recruitment drive and the structure of the current “ownership group”. Email us with your views: RokerReport@Yahoo.co.uk

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

Dear Roker Report,

Like most supporters, as the season progressed, against all past experience, I allowed myself to start believing that we would be promoted this time. The team were playing well despite a large number of long term injuries. We had gone fifteen games undefeated with brilliant away form. What could go wrong?

At this moment in time, right on cue, our owner made a cardinal mistake which I am sure he will never repeat again. He announced that he was going to spend £60 million on new players once promoted. It spelled doom for our promotion hopes as most of the first team had confirmation that they were not considered to be good enough for the Championship.

Success would mean the end of their hopes to progress with the team. There was then a complete sense of demoralisation in a number of players, a feeling they would be on the scrap heap if promoted. The players who were confident of their place could not offset this position. Indeed McGready nearly got us there on his own.

Sure enough demoralisation immediately set and a dramatic change of fortunes occurred. We garnered two points from the next seven games and went from a situation where promotion was in our grasp to being no hopers in the playoffs. This sudden change in form could not have been a coincidence. I do not maintain that players chose to lose games to save their careers at Sunderland, but something very negative accrued to the mentality of a number of players who had effectively been informed by association that their time was up. They lost hope.

Doug Blyth

Ed’s Note [Rich]: Cheers fro writing in, Doug. I think there’s definitely something in the psychology of expectation within the squad, but for me it was much more to do with the demoralisation and destabilisation caused by the constant injury crisis - especially the loss of Dion Sanderson - than any loss of confidence because of the promise of investment in the squad if we had gone up. The individual professional footballers at the club, I would hope, are confident enough in their own abilities to think that if they earned promotion they would be retained or at least earned themselves a transfer.

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

Dear Roker Report,

I read with concern the minutes from Speakman at the Red and White Army meeting.

Speakman states as majority shareholder Dreyfus can make unilateral decisions on some things, but on others he needs shareholder agreements.

This is a change from reading he has taken full control of the club and means Donald Methven and Sartori still have a say and control of the club.

Can Roker Report clarify this as it’s very concerning.

Surely if he’s majority shareholder he can Vito, or make any decisions he wants without interference.

I smell a rat or rats, are our previous owners still pulling the strings

Thanks

Paul Eden

Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thanks for writing in, Paul. I think it’s a huge stretch to say that Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven are “still pulling the strings” at Sunderland AFC; but there are certainly further questions that arise from the minutes of the Supporters Collective meeting regarding the breakdown of share ownership and the nature of those provisions in the articles of association about decisions that require the agreement of the minority shareholders. As Roker Report’s RAWA rep, I know that these will certainly be followed up with the club at future structured dialogue meetings, but overall I don’t think there’s cause for too much concern.

New Sunderland Owner Stewart Donald Press Conference
Still pulling the strings? Probably not, but important questions remain unanswered
Photo by Sunderland AFC/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Here we go again the recruitment merry go round starts now, as usual we will be linked to every player going and probably sign nobody decent.

This season coming up there can be know excuses promotion has to be achieved. The structure and owner are in place for success and it has to be achieved. The pressure on Johnson will be immense and rightly so. The figures been touted about for Sanderson for that sort of spend in league one are huge and the fans will expect a big season from the squad Johnson is moulding.

A good start to the season is essential and if we can make teams hate playing at the stadium of light again we will be not be far away from promotion. The names linked so far have not impressed me its same old for same old, more holding midfielders Digby etc. Sunderlands use of the loan system has been embarrassing over the last four seasons and we have to be looking for a vast improvement in how we use it.

I think Wyke will go good luck to the lad and Gooch has had his chance time to move him on as well.

For once let’s get our recruitment right and done early. Kyril will not regret the day he bought this club if he brings success back to the club he will be idolised, look what Leicester have achieved. A bit of luck is needed as well but all the pieces of the jigsaw are coming into place for success.

Its time to break the mould of or Sunderland always blow it. Let’s get the club back where it belongs and it starts next season with heart desire and hard graft thats all the fans ask for.

Mark Wild

Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thanks for your letter as always, Mark. I’m more optimistic about our recruitment this summer than I have been for the past three or four years - with money and a recruitment team behind us. It’s going to be a summer like no other; the finances of the game overall and shape of the transfer market is significantly different now to what it was before Brexit and the pandemic, it will be very interesting to see the results. But I completely agree that Johnson and Louis-Dreyfus have the opportunity to write their chapters in the history of our club by bringing the good times back to the SOL.

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 1st Leg
Lee Johnson will be trying to motivate a very different Sunderland side come August.
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images