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Sunderland v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Letters: “Next season will be a real acid test of Sunderland’s approach to recruitment”

More thoughts on the kind of players we should be targeting in the transfer window and a letter from Australia on the subject of EFL refereeing are in the RR mailbox today! Email us:

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I wrote in a week or so ago regarding the recruitment model being aimed at profit and not practicality, i.e hanging our hopes on Joe Gelhardt but also signing wide players when we have plenty of them in the squad.

Although I’m all for bringing quality in, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher.

The responses came thick and fast that we should be happy as we were in League One last year, although I personally feel we were pretty much cruising towards the Championship playoffs with a fit Ross Stewart.

Gelhardt’s inclusion appears to be under severe threat, where he will be replaced by a non-specialist striker.

There’s a difference between criticism and realism, and every man and his dog can see where we’re struggling on the field.

I don’t think our recruitment model is poor, but I do think profit seems to come before practicality, especially if January is anything to go by. We signed Danny Batth in January 2022, so older players don’t necessarily equal poor players and Corry Evans is another case in point.

Next season will be the acid test, because if we continue as a mid-table Championship side, fans will turn and I’ve seen people on social media already talking about sacking Tony Mowbray.

The club, the side and the setup has so many components that are ready to progress, so as a statement of intent, we need to see recruitment that enables us to challenge for promotion next season.

Dean Hardy

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

On the target for next season, the aim has to be a top six berth at the bare minimum.

I think those running the club will be perfectly aware that after one solid season of stability in this league, there’ll be a collective desire from the fans to see even greater progress during 2023/2024, and to ensure that a playoff berth is achieved come next May.

As far as the recruitment goes, this summer is going to be pivotal.

As Tony Mowbray has rightly pointed out, we do have the core of a very exciting side, one that could certainly challenge for promotion with the right amount of depth and quality added.

The additions of Batth and Evans, as you rightly say, are proof that there are exceptions to the rule and I’d expect one or two older and wiser heads to arrive on Wearside this summer in preparation for next season.

Huddersfield Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

My name is Neil Hamilton and I’m a sixty-year-old avid Sunderland fan living in Australia. I love your work, by the way!

I’d like to comment on the goal incident from Wednesday night’s game.

I know the referee didn’t have a good game against Sheffield United but having watched the free kick many times, I have to say that his view of the offside wasn’t very good,

Having said that, the linesman who’s supposed to be there to police the offside rule was an absolute disgrace all game.

In my opinion, his decision to not flag makes him a cheat and he should never be employed by the FA or the EFL ever again.

One question I do have is if the referee apologised to Tony Mowbray after the final whistle, when did he realise he’d made the wrong decision?

In my opinion, the sooner VAR is used in the Championship, the better.

Neil Hamilton

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

The decision to award the goal was certainly costly on Wednesday night, but right across the division, the standards of officiating are nothing short of appalling and on Saturday, we benefited from another ridiculous call when a penalty was awarded against Luton.

In my opinion, there needs to be a major overhaul of the entire approach to refereeing in the Championship.

More clarity on the rules, more accountability at all levels, and consistency in decision-making are the key areas, and I hope that action is taken soon because it’s becoming a real issue.

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


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