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Sunderland v Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League 1

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Fan Letters: “In Neil we trust!”

We’ve received some interesting fan letters this week, discussing the issue of taking the knee, our promotion aspirations, and a welcome upturn in form for Corry Evans. Got something to say? Email us: rokerreport@yahoo.co.uk

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’m writing to say that I agree with Nic Wiseman of ITHICS on the issue of taking the knee. I’ve written to this fanzine before to say that I am sick to death of hearing my fellow Sunderland fans make racist comments in my 10+ years of being a season ticket holder.

Taking the knee is about saying that we don’t want racism in football or in society. It’s got nothing to do with Marxism or any other political ideology, and it’s totally disingenuous to pretend it does.

I would like to see the Sunderland players take the knee, and any of my fellow Sunderland fans who boo it are shaming this proud club. I say this as a working class white guy who grew up in a former pit village in County Durham who never saw a black person face-to-face until I was well into my teens.

Being anti-racist doesn’t require some wealthy cosmopolitan background in a diverse area, it simply requires common decency and manners.

Benjamin Eckford

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Thank you for your letter, Benjamin.

Ultimately, racism will only be eradicated from football as a result of cooperation, unity, and with everyone working towards the same goal.

Sunderland AFC has always been built on strong, positive values, and although some people may view it as an empty gesture or something that is not worthwhile, taking the knee remains one of the most powerful ways of drawing attention to an issue that simply must not be allowed to slip off the agenda.

Sunderland v Oxford United - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

There are lots of points still to be won and you know that we can still do it.

Plymouth (a) was the perfect example of how you might approach the away leg of a playoff semi-final.

We do look like a side that is ready to take on the challenge of the playoffs, but the problem, of course, is whether we get there.

Personally, I think we will, but it’s going to be tight.

Win our last three games and we are there.

Still in our hands. In Neil we trust!

Tom in Sherburn Village

Ed’s Note [Phil]: I fully agree, Tom, that our playoff aspirations remain firmly in our own hands, and under Alex Neil, I do believe that we are resilient enough to pick up enough points to secure a top-six finish. He has given us a harder, no-nonsense edge, and we also look physically fitter under his management, too.

The game against Plymouth did feel like a slight missed opportunity, not least because of how results played out on Tuesday night, but with so few points separating the playoff hopefuls, we are firmly in the mix, and that is all we can ask for.

At this stage of the season, grinding out victories is the most important thing, and if we can rise to the challenge and deliver a result against Cambridge on Saturday, it will give everyone an enormous boost of confidence ahead of the crunch game against Rotherham and the final-day trip to Morecambe.

Sunderland v Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I have to give credit to Corry Evans, who I had written off many moons ago.

He barely got a sniff under Lee Johnson but has become an important player for Alex Neil.

He probably deserved to be dropped weeks ago but Neil stuck by him, and he has repaid that faith with some experienced performances.

He is not going to catch your eye with his performances, but he is the glue that holds this side together. Well done, Corry.

John Fenwick

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Until recently, John, I shared your opinion on Evans.

I didn’t believe that he was particularly effective as a captain, and that he simply wasn’t influencing games strongly enough. I was convinced that a player such as Bailey Wright was more suited to the captaincy, because of how commanding he can be.

In recent weeks, however, Evans’ performances have been much more authoritative, and he has showed some excellent leadership along the way, as well as chipping in with a crucial goal against Oxford.

He will certainly be a key player for us between now and the end of the season, and as you say, he seems to have the complete backing of Alex Neil, which is so crucial in order for a captain and his manager to form a strong working relationship.

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

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