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Fan Letters: ‘Alex Neil a Scottish Parkinson? That’s one of the stupidest comments I’ve heard!’

Andrew launches a convincing defence of Alex Neil’s start, while Shaun reckons JD is destined to score the winner at Wembley...

Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’d like to address some of the ridiculous comments coming from a minority of ill-informed and prejudiced fans about Alex Neil.

These comments usually revolve around him being ‘the Scottish Parkinson’ and/or being defensive and overly cautious by default. Quite clearly, this is complete nonsense and seems to demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding about football and certainly about Alex Neil.

For a start, Neil is not simply a Scottish Parkinson and such a claim is one of the stupidest comments I’ve ever seen. Parkinson was an atrocious manager with no tactical awareness, no Plan B and no ability to change things. Quite clearly, Neil does know what he’s talking about, he is very tactically aware, he seems to have a Plan B, C and D and isn’t afraid to change things to get us the win. These are all things that were well beyond Parkinson and a massive step up from Ross and Johnson too.

What about this charge that he’s defensive by default? Very clearly this is nonsense. We heard from fan after fan from his former clubs that Neil likes to attack and isn’t afraid to roll the dice to get the win, but unlike Johnson, he also knows that shipping goals is no recipe for success.

Just like when Big Sam arrived, his first priority has rightly been sorting out our leaky defence. Who could argue with the fact he’s done that? We look far more solid as a team now and much better organised.

He’s also trying to get into the playoffs from a very weak starting point. This demand requires a different approach and I have no doubt at all that next season, regardless of the league we’re in, we will see a different approach, simply because the circumstances are different.

I’m not saying I agree with every decision he makes. Playing Evans every week seems bizarre to me, but unlike previous managers, I have faith in Neil that he’s going to get a hell of a lot more right than wrong. Let’s not forget, he’s not been here long and he inherited a squad torn apart by injuries, drained of confidence, utterly exhausted and in complete free fall. I think he’s done a fantastic job so far and for the first time since Big Sam was here, I have confidence in the man in charge of the team.

We’re not going to see what his team is really like until next season but so far he looks like a great appointment who is miles better than this league. We’re lucky to have him, he’s easily the best manager we could have recruited and we need to get behind him and give him time.

Andrew White

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for your email, Andrew. The Parkinson comparison will be purely down to the football we’ve seen from Alex Neil’s team so far – it’s not been pleasing on the eye and is far more similar to Parkinson’s teams than anything else we’ve seen recently. Let’s not sugarcoat anything, the football since Neil came in has been a very hard watch, and in that respect I can understand the comparison. However, as you outline, we’ve seen more from him in terms of his ability to change games than we have from many other managers we’ve had in recent times. I made the point on our most recent podcast that I suspect the style of play is a needs-must based on our fixtures between now and the end of the season. We need to be tougher to beat and more solid defensively to have any chance of going up, and ultimately that’s Alex Neil’s remit – to get us up. I suspect we’ll see a very different style of play next season, albeit with – hopefully – a strong and sturdy defence.

Sunderland v Crewe Alexandra - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’ve never understood some of the sarcastic crap that gets spouted on social media about Luke O9, a player who would die for the Sunderland shirt. Glad that he’s back and glad that he’s already made an impact on the team. Keep proving people wrong Lukey lad.

Thoughts on Luke and the possible impact he can have?

John Barrow

Ed’s Note [Martin]: I’ve got a lot of time for Luke O’Nien John, I think he adds a hell of a lot to the squad, in terms of energy, passion as well as his ability. For me, his return to the squad couldn’t have been better timed, and he’ll play a crucial role in between now and the end of the season. For whatever reason, a very small minority of people get off on mocking him and making disparaging comments about him on social media. I don’t get it – why would you take pleasure in mocking a player who’s playing for your team? Not only that, but a player who demonstrates all of the personal qualities we’d all identify as being traits and attributes you’d want in a Sunderland player? Crazy.

Sunderland v Crewe Alexandra - Sky Bet League One Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Keeping the faith with JD... he will score goals this season I am sure.

Maybe at Wembo in the final???

Haway Jermain son we believe in you.

Shaun Saunders

Ed’s Note [Martin]: I’ve found some of the takes on Defoe’s performances to date a bit odd to be honest Shaun. If he was 10 years younger, the team would be getting blamed for not creating anything for him. And in truth that’s what’s happening now. We’re not getting the ball into the box on the deck for him to even have a sniff. I have a feeling he’ll score a pivotal goal at some point in the season though, and I’d much rather have him on the bench to bring on than some of the other ‘strikers’ we’ve had in the recent past.


Dear Roker Report,

Can anyone help with details of Ally McCoist’s appearances for the reserves during his two seasons at Sunderland? Any info would be appreciated.

Alastair Laird

Ed’s Note [Martin]: There’s a niche request! If anyone has any information, please share it with us and we’ll publish it for Alastair.

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