Dear Roker Report,
Alex Neil has shit all over us.
I know he has to think about number 1 first and foremost, but Stoke are shite.
Can’t understand it.
Dear Roker Report,
What can I say, where would I begin? We have lost the best Manager since Peter Reid and I cannot get my head around the shambles that is the board of this club.
Will we ever learn?
Right from the disgrace that is the ticket office through to the farce of the club shop and now finally where it is really going to hurt and that is the “fatality” of losing Alex Neil.
He is the only Manager since Reidy who actually “got” the club. He warned them months ago that he did not want to play catch-up with summer signings. This was a guy who was not all talk. He was spot on tactically and if they had just got their fingers out, we could have realistically been thereabouts at the end of the season.
Now what? Another Parky who will stagger in gushing about how huge we are, only to preside over us slipping into a relegation fight? How about another clueless Simon Grayson? Make no mistake, whoever they bring in will be a step down from this guy. He epitomised SAFC. The suits should hang their heads in shame, but they won’t. They will say they did everything they could to keep him, but that is a lie. That is me finished completely. I was already on the line in the sand after the garbage I endured trying to get my Grandson a ticket to sit next to me for the last two home matches, but this has pushed me over the side. Almost 50 years of supporting this lot, and nothing ever changes, and it never will. I cannot tell you how sickened and angry I feel at this time. Good luck RR. You are going to need it with your mailbag after this debacle. I am completely done.
Dear Roker Report,
Just when there’s some light, it always goes awry.
Guess Neil is not happy with player recruitment.
Echoes of the Defoe signing, which was over the manager’s head.
Neil wants immediate signings to strengthen for this season’s campaign.
He obviously doesn’t rate Alese and wanted someone else.
The future is the future, but Neil wants able recruits now.
My other worry, after losing the best manager we’ve had in an age, is that it may involve Stewart.
Neil wouldn’t entertain losing him at any price as he is fundamental to the team and how we play.
If he has been overruled on that, well, enough said.
Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks Tom, Pip and Kenton for your emails. I absolutely share your anger, confusion and concern about this – I didn’t see it coming, I don’t think anyone did. I’d say Neil was our best manager certainly since Allardyce, and he did brilliantly well during his time here. He’s tactically astute, has established a nice style of play, talked the right sort of language for Sunderland, and we’re in a far better position now than we were when he took over.
Now, the fact he’s legged it when the first semi-attractive club comes batting its eyelashes speaks volumes, and needs looking at on both sides. From the club’s side, we have a ‘model’ that we are working to, and the head coach needs to fit into that. That’s not changed since Neil came into the club. That’s what he accepted, and that’s what he’s had success so far in. I’m sure there were players he’d ideally have wanted that didn’t fit the model, but even he himself said a few weeks ago that football doesn’t work that way anymore - where the manager has complete control. So why would that be an issue now? We’ve been highly critical of the club this season for a number of issues, but I’m not sure on this one. However, the ‘structure’ should be good enough to keep a manager like Neil. So what’s gone on?
Neil has talked a number of times over the summer about needing stability, to work with players long-term and the need to get the right characters into the club – and for him to then walk out on the eve of a huge game, at this stage of the season, and leave those players is really, really poor in my view, and tells you a lot about his character.
He used other clubs while at Preston to leverage better terms for himself, and I suspect that’s what’s happened here – he’s called the club’s bluff expecting them to back down over transfers, contracts or give him more money and he’s been backed into a corner.
When he took over here, his stock was falling after fizzling out at Preston, and while yes he did take a risk to drop down to League One, we took a risk too - and he wasn’t our first choice, and he wasn’t an overwhelmingly popular appointment. He’s not moved up here, so despite spouting about needing players with commitment etc he’s not demonstrated that himself, and he’s essentially used us to put himself in the shop window. He’s been offered two or three times more money closer to home, and has leapt on that.
Naively, I thought he ‘got’ the club and was motivated by football, which is evidently not the case. In stark reality, however, Stoke have outperformed us for a while now, are backed by a lot of money, and if he’s managed to leverage a ‘manager’ job as opposed to a ‘head coach’ closer to home you can see why - removing any emotion - he would find that enticing.
Where do we go from here? Who knows. But thankfully, for the first time in a generation, we’re recruiting as a championship club with a very good squad of players, so logically we’re a more attractive proposition than when recruiting in February.