Dear Roker Report,
I sincerely hope that this letter is overtaken by pending events. If it isn’t we are well and truly stuffed.
If promotion is not attained this season the blame is squarely down to one man -our Director of Football Mr Speakman. My reasoning is:
1. Transfer Window Failure. Central defenders - parting with Younger, Flanagan and Almond, with Wright and O’Nien injured and leaving only Batth, Doyle (an 18-year-old who looks in need of a rest now) Xhemajli and someone called Willis who we last saw in Ross’s reign. Playing poor Winchester there last Saturday was akin to water torture.
Left Back: Only got Cirkin now who looks as knackered as Doyle
Wide players: A plethora of wingmen - Gooch, Dajaku Embleton Clarke Roberts Mcgeady and 2 goal Diamond at Harrogate i.e. more wings than in a flock of Seaburn seagulls
In summary total imbalance with a distinct lack of physical presence and judging from Saturday lack of balls and attitude.
2. Dismissal of Johnson. There was less of a gamble for him to be given the whole season and then judged compared with our current inability to quickly replace him. You never should sack anyone without a clear and immediate plan to get a successor in. If a decision had been made on Saturday to dismiss why announce the next day instead of giving yourself a day or two to get your act together and plan your PR campaign
3. Interim Coaches. Speakman put Mike Dodds in with absolutely no management experience. This resulted in the dreadful selection of a team that had just lost to Bolton. Add to that D.odd’s inability to even change anything at half time. I couldn’t believe this man’s Press Conference after when he said he was proud of how the players had conducted themselves in the week before the game and how sorry he felt about them after the loss[ for God’s sake what about the supporters. He added that he didn’t see this result coming. Really? Is this man really going to lead us out at Cheltenham? I don’t blame Dodd here but I certainly blame the guy who put him in the position.
4. Leadership. Nonexistent. Certainly from Speakman and also from his Captain who could only saunter back to the centre circle without seeming to speak to his team. No Kevin Ball or Cattermole characteristics there. I also could not believe that it was left to poor Carl Winchester to deal with the post match Press conference. Where was Evans? Poor Carl who seems a decent lad but definitely playing out of position on Saturday looked absolutely shell shocked.
5. Roy Keane. The obvious choice now ahead of the also-rans who would be lynched if they now got the job ahead of the man from Cork. Those doubting his love for Sunderland or his approach to man-management just need to read Roddy Doyle’s biography Roy is intelligent and not the ogre painted by some. Just ask Sunderland fan, Martin O’Neill.
Keane cannot guarantee us promotion but who else would you want on your side in the Playoffs. He would put the fear of God in the opposition.
It looks as if Speakman has ballsed up the Contract negotiation. He lost us 3 points on Saturday through his delays and it could be this carries through to tomorrow night.
6. Does our Director of Football really understand Sunderland and its supporters
Like me and others with over 50 years history with the club and my late father and grandfather back to the days of Charlie Buchan and Raich Carter and Charlie hurley for our younger readers. Here’s hoping Kristjaan Speakman recovers some common sense and sanity or I fear he will become a Dead Man Walking!
Just about keeping the faith.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: That’s quite a list, Colin, but generally hard to disagree with. However, we don’t know what’s happening with any contract offer made to Roy Keane, so I don’t think it’s fair to speculate and say he’s ballsed up there.
But Speakman certainly has a lot to do to convince the majority of fans that he’s up to what is a very important job. I’m personally in favour of having a Sporting Director and Head Coach, rather than a Chairman and Manager, relationship in charge of the footballing side of the club. When he arrived from Birmingham his experience was in runnning a successful academy - but leading the football operations of a whole institution, from U23s through to the men’s and women’s senior sides - is a huge undertaking.
I really hope he’s ultimately successful, as that will mean we get promoted and continue to improve, but things are going to have to change very quickly indeed.
Dear Roker Report,
So on Saturday, I left Leicester with optimism. Defoe was back & I had a sense of pride in my club, not necessarily the club but the supporters. It reminded me of why since the age of 5 I have supported this club, spent thousands of pounds travelled thousands of miles over 40+ Years.
It’s the people, the fans, what club gets dicked 6-0 but can then generate an attendance of over 38,000 against the poorest side in the league in league one?? However, that optimism was slightly deflated on hearing the line-up. A coach with essentially a free hit, hid, wasn’t bold enough to think I can & need to change this. For me that team selection spoke volumes of the calibre of person we have at the club. Unfortunately, it didn’t get any better and my opinion was only endorsed.
I was sat just to the right of our dugout & watched in complete disbelief not only at what was unfolding on the pitch but our think tank on the sideline. Absolutely zero passion, every decision needed a discussion between Dodds, Jeavons & Proctor. Dodds did not see it coming. I do not hold a UEFA A licence, however, if I was unsure before kick-off, it was glaringly obvious by half time yet no changes.
Clarke & Defoe should have been on at halftime & Gooch should have been given a maximum of 15 minutes in the second half, alas no... our highly thought of U23s guru decided to leave it..baffling.
I hope that yesterday the powers that be got their arses into gear & today Keane is appointed. The club needs an almighty shake, we are sleepwalking out of the playoffs. At Cheltenham, Matete, Clarke, Hume & either Roberts or Dajaku needs to start.
I hope Dodds & the other pair have had their one game, if not I fear another potential three points tossed away.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Good to hear from you as ever, Paul. Tonight we really need to see a new-look Sunderland AFC. These players we’ve brought in should be more than good enough, and at least half of those who’ve started in the last two games need to be taken out of the firing line. I hope that by 10pm tonight we’re sitting here raving about the heroics of Defoe, Matete, Roberts, Clarke and Hume... and that we’ve got a new Head Coach waiting to take training on Wednesday too.
Dear Roker Report,
After the last two terrible performances, I reckon it’s time to go all out, this is my team for Tuesday, Hoff, Xjemajli, Bartt, Doyle at the back, Clark, Matete, Neil, Roberts, Pritchard in the middle, then Rossco and Dajaku up top, bench, Defoe, Hume, Cirkin, Patterson, Kimpioka, we have to start with speed and purpose to lame-duck tappy tappy at the back, play it out a lot faster get the opposition on the back foot, we are giving teams time to mark up get into position while we go backwards and sideways again and again, with the players we have at our disposal there is no way any side should beat us, too long time spent in our own half now we have the speed and penetration and with Defoe to come on later.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: You’ve certainly got a plan there, Robert. It’s a shame the coaching staff didn’t seem to have one on Saturday.
Dear Roker Report,
Disappointed (like many others) that we fielded a team that lost 6-0. Then exasperated that after a first-half 2-0 behind the same team again!
What is going on, FFS?
Now dithering for a replacement manager, come on, get Keane in place ASAP. The contract is not an issue - get a 6month deal (with extension options done)
It’s now we need someone to change things for the good, with standards and principles.
JUST DO IT
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Hi Frank. I think you’ve expressed the feelings of many in your letter. I’m not sure Roy Keane will accept any old contract though - he has, as you say, high standards.
Dear Roker Report,
This season is a write-off. Rotherham and Wigan Athletic will take the two automatic spots. SAFC only have themselves to blame - this tiki-taki stuff they play is good on the eye when it comes off but when it goes wrong (which it has done too many times this season) then we are too easily exposed. We need players that can fight their way out of League One - players like Ball or McCann and a striker who can feed off Stewart.
As it stands right now, the best we can hope for is the playoffs - but would you bank on this current lot to get us over the line?
Andrew and Gladys Hadfield
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thanks for writing in Andrew & Gladys. Personally, I still think we have the players in the squad to succeed in achieving the goal of promotion, whether through the playoffs or even automatically. There are still a lot of games left to play, a lot of points left to win. I agree that we need leadership on and off the pitch: it’s time for Speakman to make his choice and it better be a good one!