Dear Roker Report,
Having finally accepted our thin promotion chances have gone, I believe we should actually be pleased with the sense of it all.
Lots of fans were craving a double promotion, but we really have to see the big picture. Just look at Burnley. They were cast adrift last season and yet they have walked the Championship this season. That shows the gulf between the two divisions.
That said, I do worry what will happen even if we go up next year. Will our kids be sold on, and if so, why? What would be the point?
The rumblings of discontent at future plans are growing louder and no-one comes forward with answers. I am fully aware we are in a much better position than we were during the last four seasons, but we still need to have a semblance of future aspirations, otherwise any possible promotion will be very badly damaged with us tumbling back down with the speed of light.
We are wonderful on the eye going forward, but we will lose Amad at the end of this season and if Roberts gets any kind of injury next season, our flair and fluency will almost certainly dry up.
We have huge potential (as ever), but I genuinely believe a number of big money signings will help us next time around. I am not talking about players from Planet Ego, I am talking about lads who can come in and graft as well as play. We simply must build on this season and not just invest in kids who may or may not be sold on.
As fans we are entitled to clarity and foresight. Do the suits upstairs have any idea just how frustrating it actually is for us fans when we look up at the Premier League and see teams such as Wolves, Brentford, Brighton, Fulham and co. stabilising up there whilst we are still living off what might be?!
I am fully aware that the aforementioned teams had their own rebuilding models that took time, but come on, we simply have to get this right next time. I have watched this club for decades and apart from 73’ and two successful seasons under Reidy, there has been absolutely nothing to crow about. It has to be next season and then on after that. It simply has to be.
Ed’s Note [Chris]: Regarding your initial point about this season being a success without promotion, I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s been a success to be in the position we’re considering the ups and downs we’ve suffered.
Moving forward, I’m perfectly comfortable to let Kristjaan Speakman and his team to crack on. They have done a great job so far and no doubt they will plan to lose players, because it’s inevitable that bids will be received if we’re performing well. They’ve got a good track record so far so we’ve got to trust that if that happens they will have a list of potential replacements.
It could be an interesting summer.
Dear Roker Report,
With one eye on next season I’m wondering which players might leave in the summer.
Some of our most committed players are also our weakest - is there a compromise?
If we want promotion we have to constantly improve. What would you do?
Ed’s Note [Chris]: See above for my reply to Peter. We have to accept our place in the food chain and that players who have performed this season will be on the shopping list of clubs who can offer Premier League football and probably more money.
The recruitment team know this better than anyone and they’ll no doubt be planning ahead.
Dear Roker Report,
In response to Bjorn Shigg’s email, I get his frustration, but some perspective needs to be maintained.
Firstly, Mel’s main task is to keep the side in the Women’s Championship. Mel and her assistant Steph Libbey have achieved this with three matches to play.
It should also be noted that the current bottom four in the table are all part time teams, it’s no accident that this has happened. Full time players do not have to juggle full time jobs and training and can have proper rest and recovery days and be fully focused on the next match.
It should also be said that there is quite a hefty injury list. Keira Ramshaw has not kicked a ball this season and her experience, leadership and drive has been sorely missed. Also, out long term are Faye Mullen, Abby Towers and Emily Hutchinson. Add to that Abby Holmes, Nicky Gears, Louise Griffiths, Tyler Dodds and Emily Scarr.
Although Scarr is our leading goal scorer and has done very well there, she isn’t a natural striker but is a very good winger.
I don’t know what the situation with the younger players playing in the U23’s is, although a few of the U23’s have been on the senior bench recently because of the injuries.
Quite a few also think (including me) that Neve Herron is an outstanding talent and should be playing in midfield instead of central defence, but she must have sound reasons for this even though I don’t agree.
Mel is highly regarded at the FA. She was asked to help out with coaching a couple of years ago by Phil Neville. She has stayed loyal to Sunderland Women despite funding cuts to the women’s team and forced demotion from the WSL to the National League by the FA. I have always thought she is the best person for the job.
It’s been up and down this season but still there have been some decent results, the 3-2 win over Durham, the 3-1 win at Birmingham and a narrow 1-2 defeat to Manchester United in the Cup. I say this because it isn’t easy to get a good coach for the Championship, especially up here in the NE.
A big summer is ahead, and we should soon be told the club’s plans for going forward, which hopefully means transitioning to a FT model.
Once we can make that step, I believe real progress will be made and be able to challenge for promotion back to the WSL.