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Fan Letters: “Sunderland’s lack of size and strength is a long-standing issue”

Thoughts on the physicality of our squad and a tongue-in-cheek request regarding a well-known sports reporter are in the RR mailbox today! Have your say - email us:

Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

For much of the last sixty years, we’ve had the problem as we do now: a lack of size, strength and pace.

We have plenty of skill but without Ross Stewart, we’ve got no-one to play off and no threat in behind.

I can only remember three managers who addressed this problem: Len Ashurst during his brief spell in charge, Peter Reid after the 1998 playoff final defeat, and Roy Keane when we went up in 2006/2007.

It’s so much more tiring to be constantly battling against bigger and stronger opposition. All other teams know this and can deny our skilful players room because we don’t have the pace to hurt them.

At least we have it right in defence, but hopefully strength and pace can be added to the data.

Jim Wales

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

I do agree that the issue of physicality is something that we’ve struggled with over the years, and particularly in midfield.

The likes of Dan Neil and Edouard Michut are talented footballers but the rough and tumble side of the game isn’t their strength, and I’d like to think that Pierre Ekwah will get his chance at some stage, because he seems to tick quite a few boxes. It’ll also be interesting to see what Jay Matete’s future holds when he returns from Plymouth in the summer.

In terms of strikers, Ross Stewart, when fit, has attributes that remind me of Niall Quinn in his prime. He’s good in the air, excellent with his back to goal, and capable of occupying defenders and creating space for his teammates.

The sooner he’s fully fit again, the better, and hopefully he can be just as effective for us when he returns.

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

Dear Roker Report,

Can we arrange a petition to get Keith Downie barred from reporting on Sunderland?

He’s so far up the backside of Newcastle and he must surely be on their payroll, because he’s obsessed with that club!

Doug Raine.

Ed’s Note [Phil] Hi, Doug

It goes without saying that Mr Downie is quite a controversial figure among our fans.

Ever since the Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle went through, he often reports on the comings and goings at St James’ Park like a giddy fan, and his enthusiasm doesn’t seem to be as strong whenever he pops up on Wearside to report on the latest Sunderland news.

Perhaps when we’re back in the Premier League, he’ll rediscover some neutrality and give both clubs an equal amount of exposure - but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that!

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