Dear Roker Report,
I think we need to get a few things straight with our fanbase.
It’s fine being ‘the loyalest supporters the world has ever had’ when we’re winning, but football being football, we’re not always going to win. We’ve a team of kids and they need our support through thick and thin.
The stadium being half empty when we’re 3-0 down to Middlesbrough just isn’t good enough, and if all you want to see is a win, go and support Manchester City or someone else.
Also, fans who throw bottles should be banned for life, because there’s no place for that at our football club.
We’re quick to condemn when away fans do it, but we need to root out the thugs from our own side. In addition, booing players taking the knee when some of our own lads are kneeling is disrespectful. It’s a player's choice, so we need to respect that.
Vaping in the stands and toilets is becoming more and more of an issue. It’s banned from the stadium, so why aren’t the stewards doing something about it?
This has been a bit of a whinge but as fans we need to up our game a bit. I know there’ll always be the idiot minority but we’re not fairweather fans, so let’s prove it.
Steve in Washington
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Steve. Thanks for your letter.
Fundamentally, Saturday was just a bad day all round, if I’m honest.
From the red card to the collapse in the second half and the swathes of empty seats at full time, it was a day to forget, unless you’re of a Middlesbrough persuasion, that is.
Personally, I don’t like to see supporters streaming out before the game has finished but it’s their right to do so and after such a bruising afternoon, I don’t think they could be blamed for wanting to get out of the stadium and head for home as quickly as they could.
I don’t think seeing all the empty seats at full time would’ve done a great deal for the players’ morale, but at the same time, they’ll be learning that such results aren’t acceptable and that the fans will show their displeasure if they feel it’s justified. Such is life at Sunderland, ultimately.
Regarding unruly fan behaviour, it’s crucial that we continue to flag it up and call it out wherever possible.
The club continues to take great strides forward on the pitch and it’s vital that we aren’t held back by small pockets of supporters who aren’t willing to play their part in making sure the Stadium of Light is a positive environment in which to watch a game.
Dear Roker Report,
It popped up on my Facebook memories that (at the time of writing) it was on this day four years ago that I attended the Lincoln City away game, but I don’t need to go into detail about that game and everything that happened after it.
What a difference four years makes!
That was actually my last away game until QPR a few weeks ago and the look of fear when I told people was priceless. Thankfully, history hasn’t repeated itself there.
The team is completely different now, with only Luke O’Nien surviving as a Sunderland player. At left back, we had Laurens De Bock- remember him?
I’m so glad those days are behind us, as watching Sunderland felt like a chore.
However, I now look forward to every game and I’m actually sad that we’re now in the international break.
Anyway, that’s enough living in the past, because Sunderland are playing the best football I’ve ever seen in my sixteen years of following them, and the atmosphere is electric week in and week out.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Jack. Thanks for getting in touch.
That game does indeed feel like a lifetime away, doesn’t it?
At the time, getting to where we are now felt like a distant and sometimes forlorn ambition, but those tough years in League One have certainly given us an appreciation of how enjoyable the Championship is in comparison.
The fact that O’Nien is a survivor from those dark days is quite remarkable. He’s played in so many different positions and under countless head coaches and managers, but he’s stuck it out, worked hard, and is now doing a fine job as captain.
The trajectory of the club is very much upward, and I think it’s set to continue as the season unfolds, even though there’ll doubtless be setbacks along the way.
Dear Roker Report,
A note to the editor: are you still backing Mason Burstow after what you said last week?
The poor lad is not a Premier League or a Championship player, and Tony Mowbray made a serious mistake in starting him, unless he’s under orders to do so.
Dan Neil needs to curb his emotions and learn to walk away when questioning referees’ decisions, because he’s done this a few times now.
We now have to regroup and start winning regularly at home as well as away. I’m looking forward to getting three points from Stoke, and hopefully more players will be fit.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Bill. Thanks for your letter.
Yes, I’m still backing Mason Burstow to make an impact for us this season.
However, I’d say that for the next league game against Stoke, I think he might benefit from a place on the bench and being introduced later in the game. This would give the likes of Hemir or Nazariy Rusyn a chance, and that’s exactly what they need.
Burstow clearly has the potential, but it’s fair to say that he looks slightly short of confidence right now.
I’d like to see him develop a little more cutting edge; getting into positions with greater purpose and shooting whenever he gets the chance, instead of taking an extra touch or two, and so on.
Regarding Dan Neil, it was certainly a tough day for him on Saturday, but I'm confident that he’ll be better for the experience and that he won’t get involved in similar situations in the future.