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Fan Letters #1: ‘The sporting director, board and owner seem incapable of reacting to the situation’

The complete mess at SAFC continues to see emails flood in. Want to get your frustrations off your chest? Email: RokerReport@Yahoo.co.uk!

Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Never thought I would feel ashamed of being a Sunderland supporter but the last fortnight has left me feeling this way.

The whole club management and performances of the players have been a new low point for this club. The many errors without even discussing individual players include:

1. The lack of defensive recruitment

2. The Bolton performance both on and off the pitch

3. The Johnson sacking without a ready-made replacement manager

4. The trust placed in ‘out of their depth’ coaches as first-team managers

5. The defeats by 2 awful bottom of the table sides at an absolutely crucial point in the season mainly due to the inability of the above-named coaches to make correct selections and react during a game

6. The ongoing delay in appointing a quality first-team coach

Every moderately level-headed supporter can see the errors being made but the sporting director, board and owner seem oblivious or incapable of reacting to the situation until it has become too late. If we are not careful we will miss the play offs, make another poor appointment and have less than 15,000 turning up to home games. I can not understand how we have got to this point so rapidly but Johnson should be followed by a few other individuals who have overseen the most disastrous period in the club's history! Would not be surprised if Roy decides it's not for him.

Peter Laverick

Ed’s Note [Martin]: I don’t expect Keane to take over now, Peter. How they’ve managed to mess the whole thing up in 11 days is beyond belief.

Aston Villa v Sunderland - Premier League
You did what?
Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

There is no proof as to who actually is running our club. Is Kyril the frontman for the Madrox Group and the ‘mystery men’? Having gone through two transfer windows, the alleged owner, the club have spent very little in the way of significant sums on players capable due to their current form to get us out of this league. Instead, we have again fallen back onto the failed players cameo, which again looks doomed to failure. I ask this IF KLD is the owner, surely he would have invested more significant funds on ‘better’ players’. He is young, wealthy and ambitious, so who really is pulling the strings? The plot thickens.

Alan Metcalfe

Ed’s Note [Martin]: I’m sure we’d all like clarity on who owns what Alan, but the notion that one of the world’s richest families would let an insurance bloke from Oxford ‘pull the strings’ of their son is far fetched. Hopefully the club will be able to answer this soon, as it always seems to crop up when things aren’t going well on the pitch.


Dear Roker Report,

What does Speakman actually do, is he the one who recruits the players or does the managers do that?.

The current lack of direction is alarming to all of us who love this football club. The need for a Manager has never been as urgent as it is now. The sooner someone is appointed the better. Of all the players recruited since LJ became manager, only Jack Ross [Ed: do you mean Ross Stewart?!] is a success, the others, Winchester, Evans, Batth, Cirkin, the list is endless are not even League One standard. We also specialise in signing players that are either injured on arrival or so injury prone they’re hardly ever available, it’s become a club tradition.

Whether it’s Keane or whoever is appointed, they have a massive job just to steady the ship, I don’t envy them at all.

There was 38,000 for the last home game, which will be down to under 24,000 for the next one, and that’s 24,000 more than the club deserves. Has the chairman lost interest? He’s very quiet at the moment.

Popeye Pop

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Speakman’s said before that while he’s overseeing recruitment there’s a team directly responsible for that. I think your assessment is harsh – Winchester was being lauded as player of the season up until the end of the year. The lack of direction is alarming though, and the past week and a half have been disasterous.

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One
Jack Ross Stewart gets up for a header
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Absolutely speechless I can’t even be bothered anymore we are a joke football team ran by clueless plums, I dare say you could pluck a supporter out of the crowd who could run the team better than this lot. Never going back had enough.

Gordon Reveley

Ed’s Note [Martin]: I’m sure you’re not the only one feeling like this at present, Gordon.


Dear Roker Report,

Having first being taken to a game in 1958 at the age of 4 years old and being a regular reader of the website I am moved to write for the first time ever due to the depressing run of form since the start of the year

In the time of following Sunderland I have seen a few high spots but very many more low ones but this football club has been a massive part of my life and also my late father who passed away in 2020 ( he first went in 1939 at the age of 7 taken by my grandfather who had gone since 1900) who used to tell me that at school parent’s evening the teachers could tell how Sunderland were doing by my school work

I am now close to saying I have had enough and cannot take this anymore and on Saturday against Doncaster reached the point where I could not even be bothered to get annoyed when watching the ineptitude on display having predicted exactly what would happen to my wife several days earlier. I also predicted last night’s result to my son when he texted to say we had gone a goal up.

I had hoped that after the excellent start to the season when, after the 4-0 win at Crewe, we had 28 points from the first 12 games this was going to be the year when we finally made it out of this league. However, since then we have played a further 19 league games and taken a very poor 26 points which is lower mid-table form only. Indeed the last 7 games producing 5 points is relegation form and we have lost to 4 teams in the lower reaches of the table

The decision to sack Lee Johnson was arguable and I am sure there are reasons other than the drubbing at Bolton which lead to this. However, it is surely Speakman who has been in charge of matters in the last two transfer windows and his performance has some very poor and worrying aspects to it as follows

- We did not sign a specialist right back in the summer window despite the definite need for someone in that position

- There was a failure to sign a decent quality goalkeeper in the summer despite us crying out for this since McLaughlin left. I am afraid the present incumbent Hoffman is simply not good enough - he does not command his box, flaps at corners, parries too many shots at goal and, despite his supposed reputation of being a good shot-stopper, could have thrown his cap on Doncaster’s first goal

- We allowed players to go in January and now have no cover for the left-back position and limited cover at centre back (those we do have have poor injury records). Whilst it is admirable to show concern for players and their careers surely the club’s situation is all important and they should only have left when we had replacements signed and not see us scrambling about on deadline day trying to pull off late deals

- Whilst I understand the need to sign younger players and am in favour of this it simply went too far. By their nature players playing their first full season of men’s football will struggle at some point and need to be removed from the firing line to protect them (Dan Neil, Callum Doyle and Dennis Cirkin are classic examples at the moment). We have not been able to do this in part due to injuries but also due to not having the appropriate cover. This is a tough physical league and you need a mixture of experienced hardened professionals and the youngsters to help when it comes to managing games and hanging on to leads late in the game where we have dropped at least 6 points by failing to do this

- I also question the decision to continue playing when we were hit by COVID to, in Speakman’s words, ‘protect the integrity of the competition’. No other club in this or other divisions seemed to be bothered about that and cancelled games to protect their own positions

The decision to sack the Head Coach without a replacement leaves serious questions about both Speakman and the owner and now we are once again the laughing stock as we stumble around trying to get someone in and have had to play two games with someone in charge who does not have the experience nor the ability to carry out the role

Automatic promotion has gone and I now fear we will not even make the play offs - Sheffield Wednesday are coming up fast, Oxford, MK Dons and Wycombe are performing strongly and it looks very much like we will finish somewhere like 7th or 8th which for a club which can generate over 38,000 fines for a third division game is an absolute travesty

I very much hope I am wrong but unless whoever does come in can halt this disastrous slide then we are condemned to another season in this league (our record in plays off would suggest that would be the case even if we did manage to qualify) and when renewal letters come out shortly I am finding it hard to justify keeping my season card.

David Oliver

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Completely agree, David - unless something dramatic happens we’re down here for another season, and our better players will no doubt be off. I can’t quite believe how the past two weeks have transpired.

New Sunderland Manager Press Conference
Since Johnson’s departure, Speakman hasn’t covered himself in glory
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Mr Speakman: what are you doing selling a center half and not replacing him? The side has Bailey Wright injured and Willis out till god knows when and Xhemajli not back to full match fitness. The decisions being made at the moment are baffling. Hence one win in nine and a coaching staff who by the looks haven’t a clue what they’re doing. The prime example of this was playing one up front against Doncaster who were bottom of the league and we were the home team.

The whole club manager situation is a shambles common sense would tell you don’t sack the manager unless you have a replacement. Speakman’s words were out of respect to Johnson they had not got a replacement lined up.

The club comes first and you do what’s best for it respect does not come into it. Speakman gets paid to make decisions and plan ahead its obvious he has made a total bollocks of this in the last two weeks. The fans are not mugs 38,000 turned up to watch a dire performance last week and we all know we can not afford Keano. We have to get the right manager in this time and coaching staff because the last four seasons once plan A went out of the window we certainly had no plan B to get out of this league. Kyril should have got of rid Speakman as well – look what a shambles the last two games have been. We have Defoe here go with him in charge, look what Gerrard has achieved in his short managerial career. The club has nothing to lose we have tried everything else and failed – get Defoe in!

Mark Wild

Ed’s Note [Martin]: I’d take William Defoe as manager at present Mark. What’s followed Johnson’s sacking has been pathetic, and I think Speakman’s got a hell of a lot to answer for.

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