Dear Roker Report,
I wrote in back in January, when we replaced an injured Ross Stewart with Joe Gelhardt, and I asked the question about whether ‘the process’ wasn’t always aimed at the best fit for the team.
We’ve signed some players with huge potential, but at this point last season we had a fit Stewart and Ellis Simms.
We’re only two games in, but this squad currently looks like one that’ll struggle for goals and Tony Mowbray knows it, hence the striker talk.
We don’t have an Amad, whose absence is glaring, and we seem to have reduced the amount of quality from the end of last season.
Also, a word on the Danny Batth situation.
Our player of the season, probably one of the best centre backs in the league, and we’re not extending his deal because of data.
What kind of data tells you not to sign this bloke? Lynden Gooch and Alex Pritchard both showed last season they’re capable, and if we lose those players, it would be an absolute travesty, and Mowbray could end up walking or being pushed.
I’m not saying the system has failed us yet, but the striker situation has been apparent for two seasons, and we were very fortunate that Nathan Broadhead filled the gap when Stewart was missing in League One.
My faith remains for now, but this is a vital window.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Dean. Thanks for your letter.
I agree that Sunderland’s new way of operating in the transfer market is not without its weaknesses and flaws that have yet to be ironed out.
What’s obvious is that when it comes to arrivals, sizeable fees are only going to be spent on the back of player sales. I don’t think they’re averse to spending money whatsoever, but they’re not going to pay large amounts without recouping it from fees received from other clubs for our players.
The whole idea of ‘financial sustainability’ might not be particularly appealing to supporters who are only interested in on-field success, but given what we’ve been through over the past decade, I think it’s right that they’re taking a more measured and balanced approach to recruitment, instead of wasting millions for no return.
Dear Roker Report,
I agree with Peter and Steve Williamson, both long time fans. I’ve been a supporter since our first ever relegation season in 1958, and I’ve seen this all before.
We’ve been in need of an established striker since January, yet our billionaire owner will not extend a fee beyond £1 million, and we miss Amad badly enough without this problem.
Also, to consider losing Lynden Gooch, Alex Pritchard and Danny Batth with Corry Evans rarely fit is also nonsensical.
There have been times in the past three seasons when we’ve been down to no recognised centre halves and only two established defenders due to injuries.
Give Tony Mowbray the best chance of being successful!
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Dave. Thanks for getting in touch.
There’s no doubt that at this stage, we have the makings of a very exciting squad, but it’s not yet complete and there are still areas of potential weakness that need to be addressed.
In my opinion, I do feel that losing Danny Batth in particular would potentially be a risk too far, even if his departure opens up the room for us to sign a striker or two.
The experience and commitment he brings are two priceless qualities, and I’d love to see him remain at the club for another season at least.
I don’t necessarily believe that Mowbray is likely to walk away from his job, and that he certainly knew what he was signing up for when he joined Sunderland. Let’s hope that he and Kristjaan Speakman can continue to work together in order to make the squad as strong as possible by 1 September.
Dear Roker Report
Why is our ticket office still a shambles?
Last week, I tried to buy a couple of tickets for the Crewe game on Tuesday, but a problem occurred which stopped me from buying them.
I emailed the ticket office a couple of days before the game (as they advise you to do) and asked for advice.
I’ve still had no response from them, and this isn’t the first time I’ve contacted them without a reply.
Fortunately, I managed to get a couple of tickets for the game, no thanks to our abysmal ticket office staff.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Jeff. Thanks for your letter.
It did appear that the ticketing situation for the Crewe game was something of a nightmare.
Even on the morning of the game, people were sharing screenshots of their attempts to buy tickets, only to be met with error messages and being left unable to get their hands on a ticket.
The digital system might have worked well against Ipswich, but there are still glitches that need to be addressed, and hopefully that’ll happen as the season unfolds.