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Fan Letters: “Are Sunderland on the wrong track with their wage structure?”

Thoughts on the thorny issue of player salaries and criticism of players and head coaches are in the RR mailbox today. Got something to say? Email us:

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

One of the reasons Ross Stewart left Sunderland is that we wouldn’t pay him what he was asking for, and the same will apply to Jack Clarke, Patrick Roberts and Anthony Patterson.

Do the hierarchy think these players will stay, given what they’re being paid?

Clarke was offered a pay rise which is nowhere near his level of ability, and especially compared to what Premier League clubs would pay, so he’ll be off and so will the other two.

If you were offered the chance to treble your wages, what would you do? OK, they’ll make a huge profit but we’ll never get out of this league by selling excellent players, so pay them what the top flight clubs will offer and they might stay.

It looks like Kyril Louis-Dreyfus can only see pound signs, so we’re stuck with greedy bosses. Also, signing the likes of Bradley Dack (with no disrespect to him) isn’t the answer. He’s past his best, or else Blackburn would’ve kept him.

Bill Calvert

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Bill. Thanks for your letter.

When it comes to the subject of wages, there’s clearly a structure in place that’s enabling us to remain on a sound financial footing, and after what we’ve been through in recent years, that’s no bad thing.

As much as we’d like to pretend otherwise, football is a business nowadays and sporting success has to be balanced with good financial management, which is why we’ve gone down the path we’re currently on.

It’s incredibly easy for us as supporters to demand ‘pay him what he wants!’ when it comes to certain players, because we’re not the ones writing the cheques and potentially absorbing the losses if it goes wrong.

Would I like to see the likes of Clarke and Roberts rewarded for their contributions with new deals? Yes, but paying top flight wages in the Championship simply isn’t feasible at this stage.

If a player does leave, I think the hierarchy have earned our trust and the right to scour the market for quality replacements. They’ve done that regularly since they’ve been here and they’ll hopefully continue to do so for as long as they’re in charge.

Sunderland v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

The comment sections on this blog are the closest I get to social media, so I guess I’ve got my head very much buried in the sand when it comes to public opinion.

At first it was because I wasn’t interested in what others had for breakfast or pictures of ‘a turnip shaped like a thingy’, but now more than ever, it’s become a platform for those who want to say things about someone in a way they would never dare if they were face to face.

Even I heard about the disgraceful attack on Harry Maguire after the own goal he scored against Scotland. Social media made it ‘trendy’ to share new and inventive ways of shaming and humiliating a human being, some of which would’ve been frowned upon even by the Nazis.

We need to question our motives for speaking the way we do.

Are we actually trying to help or are we just following trends? Do we really need to say a player is pathetic and unfit to wear the shirt when it would probably be sufficient just to say they had a poor game?

I remember reading a comment years ago on the old Echo boards, where someone pointed out that it didn’t matter what we said because the players never read what’s written about them.

Back then, our average squad age was much higher, but now we’ve got a whole bunch of kids who grew up with Twitter and Facebook, and most will never have been in the spotlight before coming here. You can bet your last quid they’ll be reading every last word.

I’m positive that Tony Mowbray and the board will be unfazed by all this rubbish, but will the young lads really be able to dismiss it so easily when the vitriolic keyboard warriors get bored with targeting the head coach?

Don’t follow the leader; be the leader. Buck the trend and think about how your words will affect another human being.

Phil Clayton

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Phil. Thanks for getting in touch.

The point you raise is an excellent one because in Sunderland circles, social media is often a place where those who shout loudest and peddle the ‘edgiest’ angles seem to gain status, and sensible, balanced opinions are often overlooked.

One thing that’s particularly noticeable on social media is the rush to write players off after a handful of performances, which completely ignores the fact that every footballer develops at a different rate and that they might not make the immediate impact you hoped for.

The likes of Abdoullah Ba were on the receiving end of some ridiculous criticism earlier in the season, but it’s to his credit that he continued to persevere and shut the doubters up with some impressive performances.

Whatever happened to showing patience and allowing players the time and space to develop? Instead, it’s often a case of giving them five or six games to show something, and if they don’t, they’re dismissed as not being good enough. It’s completely nonsensical, in my opinion.

Fortunately, social media doesn’t accurately reflect the feelings of the wider fan base, and both inside the Stadium of Light and at away games, there’s generally a lot more support for players and coaches than there is in the virtual world. That’s the true nature of being a Sunderland supporter, and it shouldn’t be overlooked.

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