Dear Roker Report,
I’ve had a day to reflect on the horror show that was Stoke City, and I’m left shaking my head. I’m ever the optimist, but not one positive can be summoned from a woeful display.
I’ll start with the performance, which was the worst this season by a country mile.
We’ve been spoilt with free-flowing football this season, with stunning goals and a real feel-good factor.
Yes, the absence of a number nine who can hold the ball up is the first port of call, and surely a punt on someone like Connor Wickham, who was recently available on a short-term deal, would’ve helped young Joe Gelhardt, who looks lost.
It was a bad day at the office and we need to regroup and be prepared to be more physical, as other teams will have seen the last three games and know what they need to do.
Then we get to the officials, and where do we start?
We didn’t deserve anything other than a defeat, but the first goal can often prove crucial.
The referee got it completely wrong, but surely the miked up assistant referee or the fourth official could’ve said, “Sunderland had possession of the ball near the touchline midway inside the Stoke half”.
It also beggars belief that the officials were taken in by Stoke’s obvious tactics.
Finally, a mention for the fans.
I’m a season ticket holder and I’ve seen some truly dire football over the last four to five years, but the fact that half the stadium emptied with thirty minutes left to play appalled me.
Support your team when they need it the most- don’t be a glory supporter!
There’ll be better days ahead and we can’t forget that we’ve had a good season, so hopefully we can get back on track next week!
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Claire. Thanks for your letter!
There’s no doubt that Saturday was the lowest point of the season so far.
None of our players really turned up, and they didn’t show the right attitude or the level of fight that we’ve seen all season. That was a real disappointment, and it can’t be allowed to become a habit.
On the subject of the referee, his performance was appallingly bad (the latest in a long line of dismal refereeing displays) but we also made our own problems and the officials certainty can’t be blamed for the goals we conceded, which were embarrassing.
Regarding the striker situation, I did understand the clamour for us to bring in a centre forward on a free transfer, but on the other hand, short-term fixes are clearly not part of the club’s plan. It does need to be addressed in the summer, without a doubt.
Finally, I have to admit that I sympathised with the fans on Saturday. Nobody likes to see the stadium emptying early, but they did pay good money and after such a dismal performance, it’s hard to blame them for making an early exit.
Dear Roker Report,
Going down the road of digital season tickets is wrong and the club should communicate with the fans in order to get their views.
I’ve been a season ticket holder for twenty years and I also pay for my Dad’s ticket- he’s in his seventies and he doesn’t have a smartphone.
As a club, this means that not only are we cashless, we’ll also be digital.
From a personal point of view, this doesn’t bode well. I feel it’s bad for society as a whole, and we need this to stop.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Stephen. Thanks for getting in touch.
From a personal point of view, my main gripe with this idea is that there was no consultation with the fans before announcing it.
As you rightly say, communicating with the supporters and listening to their feedback- both positive and negative- would’ve been a better way of going about it, rather than simply announcing it and not giving people a choice.
It’s an area in which the club is still lagging behind, in my view.
Dear Roker Report,
Regarding season cards going digital, I think it would be a great idea.
That said, I only think it would be a good idea if it was in addition to a physical card, unlike the way we went cashless at the Stadium of Light.
Having a spare ticket on your phone for when you’re heading off to the pub half asleep and leave your card behind could prove invaluable!
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Evan. Thanks for getting in touch!
I think the idea of having an option to choose between a digital season ticket or a physical one is the fair solution to this issue.
Some supporters doubtless like the idea of having their ticket stored on their phone, whereas others may prefer to have an actual card that you can scan at the turnstiles.
The club not giving people that choice feels like a misstep, to me.