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Sunderland v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Letters: “Sunderland’s defence is as big an issue as our lack of goals!”

Thought on what’s primarily responsible for our current slump in form, our lack of a tall striker, criticism of fan behaviour and the new digital season tickets, and a beer-related observation are in the RR mailbox today!

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

Dear Roker Report,

I notice that most of the comments have blamed our recent slump on a lack of goals, with the usual naysayers claiming they predicted this back in February and are being proved right.

However, I think they’re wrong, and that our lack of goals is not the problem it’s made out to be.

I suppose they believe that if we’d had more firepower we could’ve scored six on Saturday and won 6-5. The fact is that we’ve scored in each of our last four games and one goal can be enough to win a match if you have a decent defence.

As someone else pointed out, the first thing that Sam Allardyce did when he walked through the door was to sort out the defence to prevent them from conceding goals, and that’s what’s needed here.

A team aiming for promotion would’ve ground out some 1-0 wins during recent games.

This team can score goals and we’ve proved that on a number of occasions, but lately the defensive side has been poor. Basically, we haven’t conceded one goal where we can say, “That was world class and we couldn’t do anything about it”.

The majority have all been down to simple defensive mistakes, so Tony Mowbray needs to sort out that side of our game and the goals and wins will come .

Bjorn Shigg

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

The point you make is an interesting one, and it’s very valid.

Recently, our defence has certainly looked shakier than it did earlier in the season, with the likes of Danny Batth and Trai Hume perhaps not quite at the peak of their form. Some of the goals we conceded against Stoke were extremely soft and no matter how potent the attack might be, if you’re left so open at the back, you’re always likely to pay the price.

I agree that we need to get smarter and perhaps a little bit nastier in defence if we’re to emerge from this current run of form.

Perhaps one or two ugly wins or hard-earned draws on the back of some resilient defensive performances would give everyone a confidence boost and could give us a platform to end the season on a positive note.

Sunderland v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

In this day and age, how on Earth do we allow someone who’s 5’7 to be classed as a centre forward?

We should have at least one player in the wings who can fill that position, and upper management should’ve it sorted last August as well as during the January window.

George Forster

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

For me, it’s a real frustration that we won’t get to see Joe Gelhardt playing alongside Ross Stewart, as I’m certain they could've established an exciting partnership. Stewart’s height and physicality and Gelhardt’s pace and movement would’ve worked well, I feel.

It would’ve also been interesting to see how Gelhardt might have fared alongside Ellis Simms had we been able to retain his services for the entire campaign.

It’s something that certainly needs addressing in the summer, without a doubt. Next season, we need greater depth in attack and the ability to rotate our strikers when necessary.

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

Dear Roker Report,

I’m disgusted by the decision to make season tickets digital.

The club have totally disregarded any loyal fans who don’t have the facility for this, such as my brother who’s supported Sunderland for over sixty five years and won’t be able to renew because they don’t own a smartphone.

What a wonderful way to treat people…or not.

It seems that the club, under the pretext of saving plastic (when they aren’t too worried about selling their overpriced drinks in plastic beakers) no longer cares about anything except money.

Truly disappointed.


Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Christine. Thank you for getting in touch.

When this new kind of season ticket was announced last week, there was a concern that fans who perhaps aren’t technologically savvy wouldn’t receive the idea well.

In my opinion, it’s the lack of choice that’s the biggest issue here.

Fans should have the option of a digital season card or a traditional plastic one, but the club have taken that out of the supporters’ hands and it doesn’t seem fair at all.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Sunderland v Everton - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers - PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’m amazed and disgusted at the behaviour of some of the so-called Sunderland fans.

The game against Stoke City was suspended for a short period due to missiles being thrown onto the pitch, which could lead to the club being fined heavily by the FA.

Yes, the game was very poor, as was the referee getting major decisions wrong, but the Stoke players were pelted with bottles of Coke and Fanta as well as vapes, which are illegal to use inside the stadium.

The general behaviour of football fans has deteriorated and anti-social behaviour is rearing its ugly head once again.

Malcolm Donnison

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

The sight of missiles being launched onto the pitch on Saturday was disgraceful, and as our Roker Report colleague Andrew Smithson observed, it doesn’t matter how angry you might be, there are certain lines that you don’t cross and throwing missiles is one of them.

We rightly condemn visiting supporters when they throw objects down from the upper north stand, and it’s absolutely fair that we should hold our own fans to account when they do it.

It’s completely unacceptable and hopefully the supporters are identified and banned.

Sunderland v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Newcastle Brown Ale: as much a symbol of the Geordie nation as er…clogs, tulips and Amstel.

See the article below!

Mark Taylor.

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Mark!

I remember an old joke in a Sunderland magazine from many years ago in which Newcastle fans claimed that Kronenbourg 1664 was named after the Blaydon Races of 1664, which did give me a laugh.

Maybe a continental touch will make Brown Ale slightly more palatable. I once had a mouthful and came perilously close to spitting it straight out, so horrible did it taste!


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