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Fan Letters: RR reader Arthur is frustrated by Lee Johnson’s defensive tactics to see out games

Plus, Jack’s curious about how we do our player ratings, and Bob’s written a song... Got something to say? Email us:

Wigan Athletic v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Just wanted to say I hope you’re all doing well and are enjoying the new season. Don’t know about you but I think we’ve got off to a really good start and we’re showing clear signs of improvement.

I wanted to email in as I’ve always wondered how you make your player ratings decisions, particularly when it comes to goalkeepers? For last night’s game against Wigan Lee Burge was given 6/10, which at first glance would make you think that he didn’t have the best game. But then the justification goes on to say that he barely had anything to do?

I would have that thought, in that case, N/A would be more appropriate as if Burge has had nothing to do that means that the defence are doing their job properly and/or the opposition aren’t creating a threat, both of which are out of his control.

That’s just my opinion though and I was keen to get your thoughts on it. Keep on creating quality content.

Thank you

Jack Asbery

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for your email, Jack, and your kind words – they’re very much appreciated. With regard to player ratings, the way we approach it is everyone starts on a six, and goes up or down based on what they do in the game. In Burge’s case he had very little to do either way so he stayed at a 6 – obviously having little to do is a good thing for a keeper, but if he’s not having saves to make it’s difficult to justify a higher or lower score. The ratings are always subjective though, and personally, I think a clean sheet should probably be worth at least a 7!

Wigan Athletic v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Third Round
Lee Burge had so little to do last night, there wasn’t even a picture taken of him. He was there though, we promise.
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Burning frustration has compelled me to reiterate my severe doubts regarding Lee Johnson as our manager.

My previous contribution came after the second leg knockout to Lincoln.

In that game, the Lincoln manager spotted a problem, attempted to solve it and succeeded in doing so overwhelmingly. LJ had no answers to the altered Lincoln style after McGrandles was introduced at halftime.

Now, currently. our squad is much younger, fitter and faster thanks to the wise, well-planned approach of Kristjaan Speakman and his recruitment team. This improved squad will certainly achieve more than previous but the manager at times is a hindrance to their development.

It defies all logic to be good enough to be comfortably leading games well into the match only to falter as a result of a misguided defensive attitude.

Carry on attacking! We might score further goals. We certainly won’t do that if we are forced to defend resulting from a poor, negative substitution.

I am confident, nevertheless, this group of players are sufficiently talented to achieve promotion and lay the foundation for a much more promising future despite our unconvincing manager and his frailties.

Arthur Gray

Ed’s Note [Martin]: We’re joint top of the league, and into the last 16 of the cup Arthur. This season we’ve played 10, won 8, drawn 1 and lost 1. The one we lost was one of our best performances of the season. The one we drew was down to individual errors and a dubious refereeing call. As the manager of the team, Lee Johnson deserves praise, surely? If the results were going against us, he’d deservedly carry some of the blame at least.

That’s not to say I agree with every single decision he’s made. Every manager will do things the fans don’t agree with – the focus on defence in the final stages of a few games has been interesting so far this season but until Saturday it had worked (who’s to say what the scores would have been in those game?) and if it hadn’t been for two individual errors from Bailey Wright it would have worked again then, too.

Johnson’s got the team playing the most attractive, exciting football we’ve seen at Sunderland for god knows how long – maybe Roy Keane’s first season at a push, if not Peter Reid’s team. He’s as much a part of the recruitment team as anyone else. You’re never going to get the perfect manager, particularly in League One, and it’s dangerous to think we could. Johnson has, and will, make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean he’s a poor manager by any stretch. Every manager does. Despite my initial reservations, he seems perfectly suited to what we’re trying to do, and I’m pretty happy with how he’s done so far this season, and for large spells of last season, too.

Dear Roker Report,

Looking forward to Wigan in the cup, me and my son are going and I really want to see how all our fringe players perform. They must be so frustrated, so this is their chance to make it impossible for Johnson not to start them at Bolton.

Gary Gordon

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Hope you both enjoyed the game Gary – I suspect we might see a couple of people keep their place for Saturday after the game last night!

Dear Roker Report,

In the 99/00 season when I was still working, I composed this little ditty when the Lads beat the Mags 2-1 at their place. It is sung to the tune of the Jarrow Song by Alan Price. Hope you enjoy.

My name is big tall Niall Quinn.
And the fans went wild when the goal went in.
They all sang Sun-der-land you are the best.
We could even give you one goal start.
But we knew we`d win right from the heart.
Us Mackems we are better than the rest.

Come on and follow that Mackem lad.
He`s gonna make your heart feel glad.
We`re marching up the Premier League.
Come on and follow that Mackem boy, he`s gonna fill your heart with joy.
We`re singing now yes now is the hour.

My name is little Alan Shearer,
And he couldn't even score if the goal was nearer
And he knew then that he was past his best.
When he struck that pen and Tommy dived.
Poor Al knew that his time had arrived.
He`s packed his boots, and now old Al’s gone west.


We took you on in your own backyard.
We thought that it was gonna be hard.
But when the whistle went, we knew that we would win.
Old Bobby stood there filled with pride.
When the goal went in the old man cried.
And the Mags collapsed, and even poor old Shay Giv-en.

Final chorus

Would love it if some musical Mack could put the music to it, that would get under the Mags skin.

Bob West

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Take it you had plenty of downtime in your old job, Bob!! Well, the challenge is set readers – who’s up for making this their debut single?!

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