Dear Roker Report,
I will be the first to say that the past month has stunned me.
After the Sheff Wednesday match, I was convinced that we were on to something special. Our late-minute draw against Wycombe didn’t even phase me; they’re a good side with tough, brutish men. They play a brand of football that is almost the polar opposite of ours.
The fall from grace that has been January and early February has left me speechless — and a testimony to how well we had played because through it all we still find ourselves in 4th points away from 2nd.
I’ve also been stunned by the fan reaction.
As both a neophyte and an American, I am in no way qualified nor inclined to judge anyone’s reaction to the club. However, whenever there is a change in form, whenever there is adversity, there is a group of supporters who write to you, comment on stories, comment on The Athletic, etc who just seem nothing other than pessimistic reactionaries.
Calling KLD into question? For what? On what evidence?
Saying that it’s promotion or bust? Why?
Ellis Short threw money at the club. No one can say that he didn’t pay. He just hired terrible people to manage the club. Madrox engaged the supporters in frank ways that were appreciated initially because it was so starkly different from Short. And yet, they were shunned. And now KLD, who has said that this is a project. The man hasn’t even owned the club for a year. Give him time. A rebuild takes time.
The Astros and Borussia Dortmund come to mind; the former in the early teens and the latter in the early aughts. Steady leadership and business culture can breed success. And let’s not forget that KLD has studied this both through his father’s ownership and also in university.
We are all frustrated to see such a bright fall and early winter turn into this ugliness. But, calling for heads of both ownership and management hasn’t been successful in the past, and, well, the definition of insanity and all that.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: There’s a lot of truth in what you say, Michael. Our email inbox is definitely a lot more active when Sunderland are losing games, which is a shame but it is what it is.
I’m steadfast in my opinion that Kristjaan Speakman and KLD got the entire sacking Johnson and hiring a new manager process badly wrong, but that doesn’t mean I want rid of them both.
They just have to learn from it, and they have to hope that Alex Neil gets us promoted, because that’s our primary objective and that’s why they’re tasked with running our club.
Dear Roker Report,
Should the fans not take some responsibility for all this? Large numbers of fans wanted Johnston out from day one... But now would probably have him back.
The owners have responded to the fans calling for action, and now the number one target has knocked us back, the club is run sh**e.
Does any single fan actually know what was said in the talks between Keane and the club...... I would suggest not, so how can we judge? Is it possible Roy was asking far too much?
The fickleness of the fans is something to behold and a major reason we’ve had 43 managers in the last 10 seasons.
Teams have bad days these things happen... Southampton springs to mind... Haven’t they been humped 9-0 twice in recent history and what happened to that manager? Oh yes, he’s still in charge! And I believe that team is doing half decent.
I think every single supporter should have a little think and do what it says on the name SUPPORT - do we think KLD and Speakman are just peeing about getting a manager in? I’d like to believe they are working as hard as they can to please us supporters.
I wonder how long they’ll be ar**d doing that with all the abuse they get!
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I think that lots of fans were in support of Lee Johnson, even after that Bolton game, so no - I don’t believe fans played a part in LJ losing his job. I might be wrong, but that just seems weird.
The fans sold out the away ends at Bolton and Cheltenham, and packed the SOL out - it was the club, the team that didn’t meet their end of the bargain. I can stand losing, but throwing in the towel is unacceptable and they deserve all the criticism that came their way.
To be honest, I just want to draw a line under it now and move on. The new manager is here so let’s crack on with the task at hand. We can still get promoted, it’s just going to be tough.
Dear Roker Report,
I have supported SAFC since the days of King Charlie Hurley, and was privileged to be at SOL when The Lads whacked Chelsea with The Mighty Quinn and Kevin Phillips getting a brace each, and I was behind the goal when Super Kev scored with that magic volley.
For me, that’s how I wanted to remember my beloved SAFC.
What has happened over the last few years is nothing short of a disgrace. KLD was to be the Messiah but has failed to deliver. What aspiring manager would want to come here?
Ed’s Note [Gav]: He hasn’t failed - he’s not even been here a year!
I’m as pissed off as anyone with the way they’ve sabotaged our season but I’m also conscious that there are 15 games left and promotion is still attainable, albeit not as simply as we might have liked.
Dear Roker Report,
Okay.. that one hurt. Getting fingered 6-0 to Bolton, bringing wor lass to her first Sunderland game to see us get outplayed and out-fought against bottom of the league Doncaster, and to now not even being able to take advantage of Wigan losing by not beating a team that’s winless in 12 games.
And now, to top it off, Roy from what I have heard has pulled himself out of the running for the job. At this point, who can blame the fanbase (a champions league level fanbase) for not having any hope left for this season. A fifth season in this shite division looms and I for one, am finding it harder and harder to stay positive and yet... I’ll still be cheering them on all the way.
But do I dare say it, just think how good it is going to feel when we do (eventually) get promoted and see the club on the path back to where we belong!
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I’ve already moved on from Keane... it felt too fanciful to be true. Alex Neil doesn’t feel like a particularly inspiring choice but we’ve been given glowing reports from Preston and Norwich fans, which makes me feel a lot better about it.
Dear Roker Report,
Weeeeell, it looks like Keane wasn’t keen and if reports are true McCann actually m’can’t. Will Neil kneel before kickoff? OK, sorry - before I’m given a life-time ban from RR it’s been a shattering couple of weeks for my sanity, starting with that weird parallel reality I can only describe as “The Bolton Experience”.
Which - eventually - led to a new manager. Most people seem less than ecstatic about the choice. Would Keane have done better? We’ll never know. Trouble is, often those seen as exciting arrivals at the club go on to underwhelm. Martin O'Neill disappointed, McMenemy was a disaster - while unheralded arrivals such as Denis Smith, Marco Gabbiadini and Kevin Phillips had quite an impact. Hopefully our new coach will come into the second category - and surely has to be an improvement on Dodds & Co.
And if the new man wants to eulogies about transitions, overloads or underloads that’s fine by me. As long as he has an impact on the pitch. Hell, if he wants to give every interview with his underpants on his head and a toilet brush shoved up each nostril I don’t care if it helps him win matches.
The speed with which the club swiftly appointed nobody for what has seemed an age was baffling but I’m a bit bemused by the regular complaint that Dreyfus isn’t using his wealth to build the squad. Now I may be wrong but - financial fair play aside - all I know about his dosh is that he’s heir to a £2 billion fortune. Which means that when his Mam dies - and not before - he’ll get a share (along with his siblings) of that money. I’m not suggesting that he’ll be needing to visit a food-bank anytime soon, but do we actually know how much pocket-money he has at the moment? It may be a little less than generally thought.
Anyway here’s hoping the new regime works out okay and that we’ll be playing in the Championship next season.....Or the season after. Or maybe......
All the best,
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Re: KLD’s fortune, that’s just not true. He inherited it when his dad died.