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Sunderland v Fulham: Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay

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Fan Letters: “Sunderland are playing the kind of football we’ve wanted to see for years!”

Comments on the team’s ongoing evolution and some feedback for our podcast are in the mailbox today! Got something to say? Email us:

Photo by Martin Swinney/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

It’s been a while since I last wrote in, but I feel compelled to do so after reading the following from an apparent Sunderland fan in response to a comment about our current style of football:

‘Exciting brand and group of players? They lost. Shows me all I need to know about our future potential. Big-name signings are the way to go. KLD needs to give Tony more money.’

Thankfully, I’m pretty sure that this sort of view is that of a tiny minority of Sunderland fans.

Do these people really want a return to the Ellis Short years?

Spending big is absolutely no guarantee of success. Yes, Manchester City have effectively bought Premier League titles and Newcastle will do the same, but is simply buying a title anything that should give us pride in our club?

I don’t care how many titles Newcastle buy with their blood money, I’d still rather be a club like Brighton who are achieving far more genuine sporting success. I’m far more impressed with Brighton than I ever will be with teams like Newcastle or Manchester City.

Fans like the one quoted above should also remember that most clubs that spend big don’t achieve success.

We only have to look at Everton to see that how that strategy gives you just as much chance of catastrophic failure. We’ve been there and done that, and I think that most fans have no desire to return to those days.

Regardless of our league position, we’re playing some fantastic football and it’s what we’ve wanted for many, many years.

We have young, hungry and talented players instead of the has-beens who played for us in the Short years. Most importantly, we have lads who are playing for the shirt and more than anything, that’s what we really want to see as Sunderland fans.

Yes, we lost to Fulham but we’re a very young side in the early days of a cultural revolution at the club, so inevitably there’s a long way to go.

Fulham are doing very well in the Premier League yet our incredibly young side of burgeoning talent took them to two legs and pushed them every step of the way.

We didn’t look out of our depth and by the end, Fulham certainly knew that they’d been in a match. There are plenty of top flight clubs who won’t push Marco Silva’s side that hard so I think we can be immensely proud of our team.

I honestly believe that the style of football we play is probably better suited to the Premier League and if we do get promoted, we may well see a similar story to that which has unfolded this season following our promotion from League One.

I’m fifty eight and I really do believe that this is one of the best Sunderland teams I’ve ever seen.

It’s all the more exciting because I know that this is just the beginning and these players will get better and better. We’ll lose some along the way, because that is the model we’re following.

We’re going to be a selling club, but those sales will provide the money to invest in what should be a conveyor belt of exciting young talent.

Big spending clubs? I wouldn’t trade places with them for anything.

Andrew White.

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

Although I haven’t been following the club for as long as your good self, I certainly agree that this is one of the best Sunderland sides of recent times- and certainly in my lifetime.

There’s skill, flair, creativity everywhere you look, and hopefully now that we’ve added a little more physicality in the shape of Pierre Ekwah, we can start to hold our own in the grittier games, too.

Moreover, the team spirit is stronger than I’ve seen it for a long time. These lads genuinely love playing for the club, and it shows.

On the subject of the club’s way of operating, I really do believe that it’s a structure we should’ve been using many years ago. It’s a real shame that it took two relegations and four years of League One football in order to bring about the overhaul, but it’s been worth it.

With the exception of a handful of truly elite clubs, every football club is a ‘selling club’ to some extent and as you say, if we can reinvest the money from player sales back into the club, that will bring about self-sustainability as well as ensuring that the squad remains competitive and capable of delivering success in years to come.

Sunderland v Fulham: Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay Photo by Martin Swinney/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy the post-match Roker Rapport podcasts by Gav and whoever else it may be- Chris, Phil, Martin, Craig or even Tom White!

I appreciate your honest and serious discussions of all things Sunderland, without the silliness that can intrude into certain other podcasts.

Switching to a different topic, there’s been significant discussion about the pluses and minuses of Sunderland matches being broadcast on Sky Sports.

Those appearances do have a negative effect on me.

Games televised in the UK are blocked from streaming to the USA, and although I enjoy listening to the radio descriptions by Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett, I’d prefer to see the action live.

Finally, I enjoy reading the material- both current and historical- on Roker Report.

Mac Craig.

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

Thank you for your kind words about our podcast and the content we publish on our website.

We love what we do, we have a deep-seated passion for Sunderland AFC, and it’s always nice to hear that people enjoy reading our articles and listening to the podcast.

On the subject of televised games, it’s a tricky one. Personally, I like the fact that we’re getting plenty of exposure on Sky Sports after four years of minimal coverage, but the rearranged kickoff times and broadcast limitations are causing issues for some fans.

Ultimately, TV plays a huge part in the football schedule these days, and it’s only going to continue!

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


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