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Rotherham United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

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Fan Letters: ‘It’s nice to be able to concentrate on the team and not the noise around the manager!’

RR reader Bob is enjoying being able to focus on the positives...

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Isn’t it great to be looking forward to the New Year with enthusiasm. Certainly the great form we seem to have hit has lifted the club and supporters.

I think now is the time to analyse what’s gone right rather than to be constantly analysing problems.

It appears to me we have hit upon a group of players offering a well balanced side, mobile and attack minded all working for one another.

I say hit upon because the current side seems to have evolved out of the limited number of players available due to injuries. We seem to have a settled team for once with very little tinkering being available. All the players are working for each other and getting to know what is expected of them, the backbone of the team is looking strong, although, I would like a little more pace at centre back and a backup replacement for Broadhead.

I hope the manager recognises how this stability has helped and doesn’t allow any new signings to disrupt the current squad.

It is nice to be able to concentrate on the team and not be subject to the noise around the manager. The players are performing and the manager will reap the benefits, if he keeps this going he may win the supporters back after all, time will tell on that one.

So heres to a successful 2022 and hope the heavy schedule and players coming back from injury doesn’t interfere with the current balance and form.

Bob Bailey

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for the email Bob. On a recent podcast we did with Nick Barnes, he said Lee Johnson had bristled slightly when it was suggested the current line up etc had come around by accident rather than design, and had said he’s always preferred to work with a smaller squad. But I think there is an element of that. Regardless, I think the injury situation has helped us due to the lack of options available – it’s forced players to play game after game, and has provided some good understanding between players. This current run of form is excellent, and hopefully it helps show people that Lee Johnson has a lot of potential as manager of SAFC. If Johnson had been sacked after the Mansfield cup game, for example, and a new manager had achieved the same results we subsequently have done, the new fella would be getting lauded as a genius. Hopefully, it proves to some supporters – some of whom have only ever witnessed a culture of managers departing at the first real sign of trouble – that patience is sometimes a better approach than ripping everything up and starting again. And again. And again. A few new signings that really add something to the first team will see us go very close to automatic promotion, and I’ve got a lot of confidence that Speakman, Johnson and the recruitment team will continue to place as much importance on character as ability.

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Broadhead’s injury will open the door for someone else...
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Liked your comments re: Stewart Donald and KLD in the last edition of Fan Letters.

I think this transfer window will tell us if they are serious about promotion - two class signings for real money from the Championship would take us up... or will we see bargain buys from lower leagues?

Roger Stokell

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks Roger, and I agree – this transfer window will give us a good idea about the intentions of the ‘ownership group’. Two-three strong signings that can improve the first team (not necessarily costing a boatload of money!) will see us right. If the rumours of Patrick Roberts from Man City are true, that’d be an excellent start.

Derby County v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet Championship
Roberts (right) celebrates scoring for Derby while on loan last season – he’d be an excellent addition
Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Many congratulations on your well-deserved gong Benno. You probably won’t want it to become too public out of modesty, but the work you have done to kick racism out of football has finally been recognised. I hope you enjoy your day out at Buckingham Palace.

Should have been a knighthood!


Ed’s Note [Martin]: A very well-deserved accolade for Benno, who’s done so much work to help educate people in football and across the region. A cracking bloke, and there’s plenty of time for him to get a knighthood! Congratulations from all of us here at Roker Report, too.

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