Dear Roker Report,
Quite clearly Ross Stewart isn’t going to sign a new contract - it’s obvious that talks have broken down, so the dilemma now is: do we cash in or use the 12 months extension that we have in his present contract?
I have no problem with keeping him or selling him but if he was to move to another Championship club that would bother me. Yes, we have had our fingers burned in the past with players on silly contracts, but in my opinion we are the biggest club in this division and no other club should be able to offer Stewart a better contract.
Personally, I think he’s looking at going back to Scotland and the pull of Rangers or Celtic would be massive, but for goodness sake not Middlesbrough.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Cheers for writing in Paul!
I’ve got to say, I don’t get you when you say that because we are the biggest club in the division no other club should be able to offer a better contract. There are clubs in this division with parachute money behind them that can offer far bigger wages to players than we can - and to be honest, where does it end?
As much as I love Ross Stewart, is he worth smashing our wage structure for in order to keep him? I think the club would be wise to operate sensibly. If Stewart backs himself he’ll get a Premier League move, and good luck to him if he does.
But the other side of the coin here is... well, what if he has a bad second half of the season or, god forbid, he gets injured again? Those opportunities might leave the table and that high but sensible offer from Sunderland might look more appealing.
As much as we’d all like him signed up sooner rather than later, I feel we won’t see any news until the end of the season. January will probably see some really crap offers come in because he’s been injured and I honestly wouldn’t entertain anything insulting.
Dear Roker Report,
My heart goes out to Bailey Wright and his family. I hope that getting through in the World Cup at least provides him with the solace he needs at this difficult time for him and his family. The pain he must be feeling for the loss of his mother in law will cut deep, but I’m sure I speak for all us Sunderland fans when I say we are thinking of him.
Dear Roker Report,
I listened to the latest episode of 2nd Tier Podcast any they were ranking the managers in the Championship from lowest to highest. I was surprised to hear Tony Mowbray in at 17th. They mostly praised him but conceded he’s not the manager you need to kick a team on. I’m a bit surprised at this perception of him from outside of the club. I know he didn’t get Blackburn promoted, but are there really 16 managers better than him in the Championship? I think his voice and personality trick a lot of people into thinking he’s something he’s not. You’d expect him to stand on the sidelines with a flat cap and whippet, playing 4-4-2 with big lads all over the park, but the truth is anything but.
But what do I know? I admit I know very little about him really other than what we’ve seen at SAFC. I’ll defer to the Championship experts on this one! Let’s hope he proves everyone wrong and gets us into the playoffs come season’s end.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I agree with you in many ways - particularly about the perception of Mowbray. All I’ve seen is good attacking football, a strong use of young players and in particular academy products, and a pretty interesting philosophy on the way football should be played.
That said, it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. We’ve dropped points where we really shouldn’t have and he at least had the excuse that we had so many important players missing - towards the end of December, when most if not all of them are back, that excuse won’t wash and that’s where I’d like to see a little more from this group.
The playoffs are genuinely within our grasp. We can argue all day about whether we’re ready to go up yet or not and whether long term it would be a good thing going up as early as this, but if we keep these lads fit, add some quality in January and carry on playing good football, I think we’ll be in the mix. Mowbray’s a wily old fox and I think people writing off his ability to kick teams off could be mistaken, but we’ll only know when it comes down to it at the business end of the season.