Dear Roker Report,
Although I enjoyed the game on Sunday and thought it was an okay performance as a starting point for the season, I have three unrelated gripes to get off my chest.
Firstly, despite the great display put on by Spirit of 37 and an admirable attendance I thought the atmosphere was very flat at times.
Yes, we turn up in huge numbers but then we don’t do a great deal to support or help motivate the team whilst we are there. Barring the first 20 minutes and a brief spell in the second half most of the rest of the time, you could have heard a pin drop. Hence the now standard and somewhat embarrassing chants from the opposition of “we forgot you were there”, “is this a library” and when large numbers start to leave before full time, with the game still in the balance, the very familiar “Is there a fire drill”.
Everybody always bangs on about the level of our support and our fantastic fans, but at home I think we just don’t make enough noise. for long enough.
Secondly, it is the frustrating lack of off-the-ball movement from our front players at times. We were good closing down and pressing when we didn’t have the ball, but when in possession there were a lot of times where they stood still next to their marker waiting for the pass, with no one making any runs, or looking for space. Hence when why bringing it out of defence we often resorted to the long ball looking for Stewart’s head. This could be down to tactical instructions, who knows. You will probably think I am mad but when I think back to watching Will Grigg’s first game at home I couldn’t help but admire his off-the-ball movement at the time, being better than we had seen in a while. However, as we all know now it didn’t last many more games, possibly because of a combination of drop in confidence, teammates being not capable of or not wanting to making the pass, or him not being bothered. So, he very quickly went downhill thereafter!
Thirdly it’s about arrangements leaving the Stadium after the game. I like many thousands of others walk along Hay Street, then Sheepfolds North. This becomes a massive bottleneck because of cars trying to drive the other way against the flow of fans. Cars and pedestrians don’t mix and it’s only a matter of time before someone is injured. When the crowds were a lot smaller those roads were closed to traffic for a period after the game and monitored by Stewards. Now we have even larger crowds using those streets, they aren’t, it's madness!
I don’t know what we can do about the first gripe other than ask is it enough for supporters just to turn up for us to be considered fantastic? Whereas something can definitely be done about the last two by the players, coaching staff, or the club and police, respectively.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: To be honest, Mark, I think that’s nothing unusual with Sunderland fans - if there’s nothing to cheer we go quiet. It’s not really in our nature to sing for the sake of it and that’s why I’ve been behind the idea of introducing drums in the stands that will help people to join in. Most people would be happy to clap, chant and sing I think but sometimes need a bit of help or motivation. Alas, I think I’m in the minority when it comes to the whole artificial atmosphere thing, so unless a driven and motivated group of likeminded fans come together to create a proper singing section that kick off songs, old and new, nothing will change - I long for the return of the South West Corner singing group that was around about ten years ago... they were class! If it’s something you’re really motivated about improving, get in touch with us and I can try my best to help you get something off the ground if that’s what you want. There will be others out there who feel the same.
On your second point... I’ll ignore your comments on Grigg if that’s okay... but personally I don’t think I’m going to start looking into our style of play too much after just one game, although Alex Neil did say in his post-match that he had planned for using a gameplan that allowed Coventry to have more of the ball, because we felt we could expose them more. Still, after a short pre-season I think it’s not particularly fair to expect perfection from the players - though Neil himself said that there were many things he saw from that display that needed to be worked on, so I guess we just have to put our faith in him.
Thirdly - Sheepfolds is going through some development at the minute isn’t it, so let’s hope that sort of thing is taken into consideration. The new footbridge linking that part of the area to the town centre will help to reduce the traffic after games - so I guess you could say that it’s in hand. Short term though I don’t really know what they do.
Cheers for writing in - please do it again soon!
Dear Roker Report,
I disagree with anyone who says we shouldn’t pursue Broadhead.
He’s already proven himself at this club and we know he is good.
Stick by him, things should ease off.
We are in no great hurry.
Gaz Bowman, Co. Durham
Ed’s Note: I tend to agree with you - I think we have to look past Broadhead’s injury woes, because we saw first hand that when he’s fit he’s a cracking player.
He’s still young enough to get over the problems that plagued him last season - most of them were hamstring issues and you’d think that after a summer off, then a pretty decent gap between now and the last time he played, that his body has had plenty of rest.
Broadhead has probably learned a lot more about his body in this last year or so than he has in his entire life, and going forward he has to look after himself. He may even need to alter the way he plays or trains to ensure he keeps his hamstrings intact.
Whether it’s another loan deal or a permanent I don’t really care - all I know is that if he’s part of our team he’s an asset. He knows where the net is and I think he’d cause problems for teams in the Championship.
Dear Roker Report,
Would like to see Simms up front v Bristol City with Big Ross. Give their defence something to think about and play Goochy & Clarke RWB & LWB.
Question is who should drop out???
Pack the middle. O9, Evans & Pritch.
Embo and Neil can come out and maybe appear second half.
Your thoughts please.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: I’ve got to be totally honest, I hardly know a thing about most of the teams in this league, nevermind Bristol City - however, I thought the Preview Podcast this week with Ryan from Second Tier Podcast was really good, and I enjoyed his insight on today’s opponents. It seems like Nigel Pearson is under a bit of pressure to get off to a good start after an uninspiring season last time out, and they’re missing possibly their best player in Antoine Semenyo - they play a direct style of football and that might mean we have to set up the team for a battle.
With that in mind, I’m not totally against what you’re suggesting. Three at the back, two wing backs, two up top and Embleton somewhere in the middle pulling the strings.
Sounds good to me!