Dear Roker Report,
The saying, “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” really applies to Sunderland right now. Unfortunately, there is an infection of negativity within the Sunderland fan base that negatively impacts the club.
I coached professional hockey, so I have personally dealt with the pressure of a negative fan base. When you sign with a club, you buy into the fact that there will be negativity if you don’t perform. However, what I see on social media from Sunderland fans when the club is second in the league and had some bad luck in a match is disgraceful.
There is a level of negativity that is fair game when a club is not providing results, but the fact that parts of the fan base are calling for the firing of Lee Johnson is symbolic of a serious issue. Lee has done a fantastic job with the club he inherited. To fire Lee Johnson at this stage would be the type of choice that put Sunderland in League One in the first place. The level of scrutiny that Lee Johnson faces is not justifiable. He has built a club with the budget he was given that currently has a strong chance at promotion.
Currently, the club is suffering from injuries and a covid outbreak. However, I do not fault the team for drawing their last two matches. It was an acceptable result given the circumstances.
Lee Johnson is not why Sunderland is in League One, but he is why they are in a spot to be promoted. The Sunderland fans should thank Lee for his work thus far.
I love this club dearly, but it is a profound shame how Lee Johnson is treated.
Thank you, Lee, for everything you have done for this club.
Sunderland ‘Til I Die,
Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for your email Robert, you make a lot of good points. Firstly, I’d say that no Sunderland supporter can be blamed for being unhappy at picking up two points from nine – we should be better than that. This is the lowest our club has ever been and we shouldn’t ever settle for this being good enough. All of that said, we simply cannot knee-jerk our way through the season. After the Rotherham and Sheff Wed games there were the usual suspects on socials shouting that Johnson should get the bullet, and what happens – we have a 10 game unbeaten run. We’re essentially building a team from the ground up that’s going to serve us well for the next few seasons, and there’s a lot to be positive about, if you’re that way inclined. And yes, Johnson’s got areas to improve on as a manager, if he was perfect he’d be at Real Madrid. But he’s got so many positive attributes he can do well here. What’s the alternative? Rip it up and start again... because that’s worked so well in the past, hasn’t it?! I do think it’s a very small minority who call for Johnson’s head after any defeat – my sense is the vast, vast majority of supporters are fully behind him. The club too have shown they won’t react to small things like individual results, and are looking long-term – and, so far this season, we’re doing pretty well all told.
Dear Roker Report,
After a week which could have been pretty decisive and could have put a major stake in the promotion ground, the club needs a huge lift.
Sixty seconds from 3 points at Wycombe, we should be beating a very average Lincoln at home at not seeing out a win against ten men no matter who they are demonstrates a complete lack of nous and leadership. A huge 7 points thrown away. Which would have put Wigan and Rotherham under huge pressure.
For me Flanagan’s time is up, not commanding and error prone allied to poor judgment making , not to mention his distribution. That is one area we need reinforcements. I also think we need an extra striker. Enter the one and only Jermaine Defoe.
Signing Defoe ticks so many boxes. Off the field he would give us as supporters a huge lift and I believe the club as a whole. On the pitch you cannot question his quality even if he is used for just 20-25 minutes. All of the clubs strikers would benefit from Defoe on the training pitch especially Ross Stewart and maybe even Kimpioka.
Simply put a leader a player with quality and a talisman who better to kick start the promotion charge?
Paul Wood, Leicester
Ed’s Note [Martin]: Agree completely Paul. Bringing Defoe back is a no brainer if it’s even remotely possible. He’d give us so much on and off the field in terms of professionalism, experience and know-how, as well as goals, and he’d lift the whole place, players and fans alike. Hopefully the prospect of helping us back up the leagues appeals to him – he strikes me as the sort of person who’d enjoy that legacy. I agree with you on Flanagan too – he’s been excellent in the main this season, but he’s error prone and if you’re looking to build a team that can step up he’s unlikely to be part of it. We need a new central defender this window who’ll be first choice alongside Doyle – hopefully we’ll get it.
Dear Roker Report,
Please get rid of Lee Johnson – not a clue, no idea, no plan b. Sunderland missed a trick by not getting Chris Wilder – a far superior manager than Johnson. Same old I’m afraid if nothing’s done quickly, play offs, and disappointment. Please change it now while we’re up there.
Ed’s Note [Martin]: Disagree completely with you Stephen. The last thing the club needs is upheaval. We’ve had a reputation as a basket case of a club under previous owners – to sack a manager after 1 defeat in 12 would demonstrate we’ve still got that reputation. We’ve had horrendous luck with injuries etc recently, and managers simply can’t legislate for individual error such as the ones we’ve seen from Flanagan recently. Johnson’s not perfect – as I mention in reply to Robert above, but I simply don’t see any shred of need to even think about a change in manager. Sacking a manager is easy anyway, getting in someone who’s significantly better is much, much more difficult. Wilder would never have dropped down to the third division.
Dear Roker Report,
Following on from my NUFC/Saudi money mail. Does anyone think that it is time for the formation of a European Money League? The title would be won by whichever club has the most money. No football would be involved of course but the clubs still have to buy the player and pay their wages. They could just lay on the beach and count their cash. Then the rest of football in this country could get back to somewhere near normal. Just a thought like.
Ed’s Note [Martin]: Think our friends up the road are playing that one already...