Dear Roker Report,
The reaction of some of our fans to the signing of Alex Bass absolutely baffles me! It seems that some have forgotten what the club’s recruitment team have delivered over the past two years.
There wasn’t a queue of clubs looking to take on Alex Pritchard when we signed him, Patrick Roberts was languishing in the French lower leagues, and Jack Clarke was floating around Spurs training ground like the ghost of Christmas past. Yes Bass was down the list at Portsmouth - but most keepers would be, with Man City’s Gavin Bazunu occupying the No 1 spot.
He may not be the seasoned campaigner that many were expecting but he fits the current SAFC model - young talent with the potential to improve. Goalkeepers, more than any other position, benefit from good quality coaching. It builds confidence, in the only position on the pitch where virtually every mistake will be punished with a goal.
Alex Neil and his team have proved they know how to get the best out of players - look at the turnaround in Lynden Gooch’s fortunes after Neil’s arrival. Someone put a stop to him trying to beat one player too many, running down blind alleys and holding on to the ball for too long.
If the recruitment and coaching teams have seen something in Alex Bass that they believe they can work with, they have done enough with others to merit the trust of the fanbase.
If they have the view that Alex Bass deserves an opportunity at SAFC, then he should be given that opportunity by the fans too.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thanks for your letter, Mike. I couldn’t agree more. We all have to remind ourselves that those who shout loudest online are very often a small minority looking for a reaction from others. There’s no reason to doubt that the club will have done their homework on Bass in the same way they do with every other player they recruit.
The ratio of hits to misses has improved significantly since we’ve have a proper team behind the Sporting Director and Head Coaches at the club. Finding untapped potential wherever it may be - the Championship, League One, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Premier League academies and elsewhere in Europe - is something we’ve done well over the last couple of years. I’m still very confident that trusting the method will bring results.
Dear Roker Report,
I’m hopeful that we can reach a good standard of football we can be proud of. Yes, we should expect that from our club. The fact that since AN has been our manager he has set the bar higher and promotion followed.
I feel that the board room is in a more acceptable shape and hope they will back the team with quality players that want to come and play for Sunderland.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Cheers for your letter, Phil. On the football side of the club, I think you’re spot on. The standards have been set by Alex Neil and the Lads have hit them, and I expect they will continue to do so over the course of this season.
He’s not the only person we’ve heard talk about the importance of stability and sustainability in the future, Alex Clark the on the Lasses side said exactly the same when I spoke to him earlier this year. I think those consistent standards and clear expectations from top to bottom on the football side of the club will yield good results in the medium to long term.
On the commercial, customer-facing side of the club, I personally think that there’s room for an experienced executive at board level from elsewhere in the entertainment and/or retail sectors to come in to sharpen up our marketing and supporter interactions with the club on a day-to-day basis. It’s those details that will keep the feel good factor - and the money coming into the club coffers - flowing.