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Cheltenham Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

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Sum your feelings up about where Sunderland are at right now...

The RR crew vent after Tuesday night’s sh*t show.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dave Holloway says...

I want to believe in the model, the philosophy, in fact I do, it is the right thing. But there has to be a balance. The recent signings made us less balanced. While never convinced by Johnson sacking him the day before deadline day, with the run of games we had without a replacement, was f*cking insane and negligent.

If it is Speakman who makes the signings and the football decisions then he needs to accept responsibility. His interview last week annoyed me, it really did. Then Dodd spouted the same bullshit on Tuesday.

I really thought we were on to something with this lot, but we look lost. Completely lost and buried in bullshit that seems to be endemic across all of those in power at the AoL.

Cheltenham Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
The worst of the worst?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says...

The first half was encouraging, with the five changes making a difference. Matete offered much-needed bite in midfield and Jack Clarke caused problems for Cheltenham with his pace and trickery.

An awful second half was further evidence of our soft centre and tendency to simply crumble once the opposition come back at us.

Here’s the elephant in the room.

Sacking Lee Johnson was for me, the wrong decision, but sacking him without a replacement lined up has weakened our chances of promotion rather than strengthening them.

I've no doubt Johnson would have steadied the ship after the Bolton hiding but we’ve now lost two more since his departure.

Even a new manager bounce, with us going on a run from now, wouldn’t be able to undo the loss of these two vital games. They have gone and we have moved further back into the pack.

Our hierarchy is ambitious and I believe well-meaning, but their business-speak mentality, as impressive as it may sound, is more suited to a boardroom than a football pitch.

We need proven footballing people into the club, and fast.

Sadly though, even if they brought in Pep Guardiola tomorrow, I think they’ve made a season crushing decision on sacking Johnson.

I dearly hope that I’m wrong.

Bolton Wanderers v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Wrong decision to get rid of Johnson?
Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Jack Ford says...

Frustration, confusion, anger, embarrassment, or apathy? It’s been all of these things at some point over the past fortnight, and I’m honestly struggling to say where I’ve landed after that result.

At this point, you really have to wonder whether sacking Lee Johnson was at all the sensible thing to do.

My understanding was that the appointment of sensible football professionals like Speakman was designed to instil an element of progressive long-term planning throughout the club, something we’ve sorely lacked for at least a decade now.

Instead, I’m looking back on a fortnight in which we’ve reacted to an indefensible battering by Bolton by sacking our head coach, weakening the defence that’s already cost us so many points this season, and allowing people who clearly have no place in managing senior football to cost us another six easily winnable points.

The recent interviews given by Speakman seem incredibly dishonest to me. I can’t believe our club leadership are cold and calculated enough to sack the head coach while we’re third in the league, but too kind and gentlemanly to do so with a replacement lined up.

Unlike so many of our mid-season meltdowns, this one seems to have been entirely self-inflicted, and I’m amazed that in the space of a few weeks we’ve gone from realistic automatic promotion to very potentially falling out of the playoffs altogether.

The people running the club need to cut the bullshit and make the blatantly obvious decisions they’ve backed themselves into making.

Get Roy Keane in by Saturday, and stay out of his way while he takes on the seemingly now-monumental task of securing promotion.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Premier League
The man for the job?
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Paul Fletcher says...

My first reaction is to wonder ‘who on earth is going to want to manage Sunderland after watching those last three ‘performances’. How do you sell the SAFC masterplan now?

Come to Sunderland, inherit a squad of players you probably don’t want, have no opportunity to bring anyone in and the weight of expectation of one of the biggest fan bases in the country. You’ll probably need to win 12 out of 15 games and your 8 home games will be played on a turnip field.

That sounds tough. Will I at least get a fair crack of the whip and time to develop my squad if it doesn’t work out this season? Yes of course we will 100% promise that but not really. It all depends on twitter you see. If after a big defeat, #yoursurnameOUT trends on Twitter among fans who mostly don’t even watch the games then we’ll probably take that on board and sack you.

Are there any good players in the squad? Yeah but they’ve mostly been run into the ground and look broken mentally and physically. The old manager made some great signings – some – but they’re probably a bit cheesed off that he was sacked a few days after the ink dried.

It’s okay I’ll just pack the defence with some experienced heads and grind out 1-0 wins. Needs must and all that.

Woah, woah you can forget that. Firstly that doesn’t fit our overarching long-term footballing philosophical waffle dream and secondly, we only have one experienced defender who is currently fit.

Sounds like a hiding to nothing. I’ll have to rule myself out I’m afraid. Either pay me four times what I’m worth or get back to me at the end of the season.

Hull City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
I’ll do it!
Photo by Ed Sykes - CameraSport via Getty Images

Gary Engel says...

Yet another open goal, so to speak, Wigan lose but then Sunderland, from a winning position, find a way to throw away another three points.

I’ve said it in recent weeks, but we will be lucky to finish in the play-offs. We long-suffering Sunderland fans don’t deserve this, but for the woeful lack of fight, I’m starting to think it would be no more than some of our characterless players deserve.

I’m not sure exactly how in-tune with the gravity of the situation the board truly are. They don’t want to press the panic button yet, but we can’t throw away another couple of games leaving clueless coaches in charge and expect to turn this season round. Neither can they expect the fans to remain patient and completely on-side while they start from scratch over another summer rebuilding once we’ve blown another season because that’s increasingly the way we’re heading!

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

Kelvin Beattie says...

An unprecedented three defeats in a row is difficult to comprehend. At these moments fans tend to look for easy targets. Gooch is not in the squad & Flanagan sold, Neil was on the bench…. I expect Dodds and Speakman to be persona non gratis. However, a quick look at the starting eleven tells you they have taken stock and made changes. Arguably it took a tad too long to make changes in the second half but those changes made little impact.

Analysing the game, I thought we deserved our lead and feel Pritchard is getting back to something like the form he was displaying prior to his most recent absence. Half time probably came too soon given our ascendency after our goal. Trai Hume had a steady game, few mistakes defensively and getting forward when he could. Clarke showed some canny touches and Matete had a robust first half. Did Cheltenham play better in the second half? Did we not play as well? I suspect a bit of both. It's far too easy to blame Speakman and Dodds for this run of defeats, though they will surely shoulder the burden of criticism. It's stating the obvious but we need the new head coach sooner rather than later. The drop off in confidence and performance is a tad alarming and should be addressed by the new head coach before the next game. It's ironic that having called for Neil to be rested, he was. Unfortunately, that game and the pitch was built for his game!

Evans continues to cut a frustrating figure on the pitch. He was not at all effective for most of Tuesday's game and that frankly is the tale of his season. Grit your teeth and hang on tight, it's going to be a butt-clencher of a run in!

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
Was Tuesday night’s game the perfect one for Dan Neil?
Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

SAFCMerch says...

It is hard to sum up where I am at succinctly right now, because I’m feeling a wide range of emotions; I’m going through stages of confusion, frustration and despair, and yet the most worrying feeling is probably one of resignment. I’ve always classed myself as a bit of a happy clapper, so when even people like me are struggling to see positives you’ve got real issues. Bad results are inevitable I know, but there seems to be more to it than that and ‘typical Sunderland’ seems to be rearing its ugly head yet again.

Losing to out-of-form teams is nothing new; it has happened regularly throughout my time following SAFC so there has also been a sense of inevitably about the last ten days. The failure to overcome such opposition and the manner of the collapse against Cheltenham Town, who let's not forget were dreadful at the Stadium of Light earlier in the season, are just two of the long-running problems at the club though, and once again these deep-rooted issues are proving hard to eradicate. Up until recently, I did think we were making strides; I liked some of the noises coming out of the club and it seemed like a real joined-up plan was being implemented that over time would turn us around.

Although not perfect, the improvements with regards to data and recruitment plus our playing style were giving me hope, and as recently as January we were in a reasonably healthy place from which we could continue to build.

Since then things have started regressing again however and as is often the case with Sunderland the fall has been spectacularly quick. It only ever seems to take one or two things to set off a domino effect and suddenly people have a collective brain fart. Composure and sensible thinking goes out of the window both on and off the pitch, things snowball and we are suddenly left scratching our heads wondering how it went wrong and how to pick ourselves back up. Because of historic problems and because the fans have had the stuffing knocked out of them again and again, building foundations here was always going to take time and the fear now has to be that we are panicking at the first sign of trouble and undoing the good work achieved since the last takeover.

I have been patient with off-field matters such as ticketing, communication and ground maintenance/management as the focus has clearly been on the team, but now even that element of the club is wobbling again I think it is fair to have concerns. Some people seem to love piling on when things are bad, they feed off the drama and get a kick out of taking potshots regardless of the situation, but genuine fans are raising questions too and unless answers are given and actions are taken immediately the disillusionment will swallow everybody up and compound matters further.

Many have tried to put their finger on what it is that holds Sunderland back. No matter what we try, it is as if there is some invisible force behind the scenes that spoils it. No doubt the optimist in me will return - ask me again on Saturday morning and I dare say I’ll be tipping us to win at AFC Wimbledon, but it is going to take so much more to truly put us back on track...


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