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Preston North End v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Letters: “I still believe in this group of players, despite Sunderland’s poor start”

Thoughts on Sunderland’s poor start, tactical problems at Preston and the need for patience are in the RR mailbox today! Got something to say? Email us:

Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Having seen all three games this season, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed with the way things have gone so far.

However, after struggling to get a football fix during the close season, we’ve seen two entertaining games (Crewe was a bit drab), and an amazing atmosphere generated at Preston.

We need to remember that much of this squad struggled to get out of League One and that the new recruits are raw talents with little experience of men’s football. However, I’m still enjoying going to the games and watching Championship football, especially compared to League One.

The fans need to get behind the team as they did at Preston from start to finish and the negative posts on Twitter need to stop.

I get that it’s frustrating but negativity doesn’t help and we’ve seen what happens when the atmosphere builds up like that.

I still believe in the young group and I’m hopeful of some good loans before the window closes, in order to bolster the squad.

It’s key that the fans stay together and appreciate the effort put in by the players, Things will come good this season, starting with three points at home to Rotherham.

Haway the lads!

Ken Tuck

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

There’s no doubt that we’ve endured a disappointing start to the season, but with the transfer window still having a little while left to run and deals hopefully in the pipeline, the squad will hopefully look stronger when September arrives.

Perhaps last season’s achievement of finishing in sixth place, which few would’ve tipped us to do, has altered people’s perceptions and expectations even more drastically than anyone would’ve thought.

After getting a taste of the playoffs, I suppose it’s natural to want more of that, but the season is still very young and we’ve experienced slow starts before and gone on to achieve success, so there should be absolutely no cause to panic at this stage.

Preston North End v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Watching Sunderland can be frustrating.

Yes, we play passing football and the statistics show us dominating possession, but they don’t highlight that most of the possession is in our own half.

Against Ipswich, when the opposition lost the ball, we inevitably passed it backwards and sideways until we were comfortable going forward, usually via Jack Clarke or Patrick Roberts, who’d retreated to receive the ball on the halfway line.

By that point, Ipswich had ten men behind the ball which made attacking difficult. In contrast, their second goal was a quick release from the left wing into the path of George Hirst, who powered it into the net.

Clearly they weren’t playing by our rules.

Fast forward to Preston, and we dropped our centre forward and replaced him with Bradley Dack, who was playing in the ‘ghost’ position we were forced to use last season with the absence of Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms.

I thought Dack was brought in to help Hemir, but perhaps I was wrong. It was a strange move when on the one hand, we want Hemir to gain experience but seemingly expect him to get it on the sidelines.

I think Tony Mowbray has some explaining to do, and my own opinion is that he’s a negative manager who’s looking not to get beat rather than going out to win.

Perhaps Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and Kristjaan Speakman thought this too when there was speculation during the summer about Mowbray being replaced, and maybe they missed the boat.

Bill Fisher

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

I did find the decision to drop Hemir for Saturday’s game slightly baffling, and I don’t think the experiment with Bradley Dack as a ‘false nine’ worked, either. He’s clearly not fully fit and it never looked right from the start.

Regarding our style of play, I do think we need to develop a different method, one that’s a little more direct and with less emphasis on eye-catching football.

We’re clearly still adapting to playing with a striker after so long without one, and against Rotherham, I'd love to see us get back to basics, be more physical and confrontational, and try and be more efficient when it comes to attacking.

Preston North End v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

We’re down at the bottom end, so we have to start winning or else it’s doom and gloom.

Preston beat us because we didn’t have a recognised centre forward, and although Bradley Dack did his best, why was he taking corner kicks when he should’ve been lurking around the eighteen yard box?

Dan Ballard picked up another yellow card, and although Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts were again very good, they had no support and nobody in the middle.

I think the fans expected us to get at least nine points from the first four games and we have none at the moment. I hope Tony Mowbray and the owner both read these letters, because the fans are starting to get restless.

There were over four thousand Sunderland fans at Preston, and not many Premier League and Championship teams can match that.

Bill Calvert

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

Truth be told, Saturday was just a disappointing day all round.

Our attack misfired once again and individual mistakes and bad luck ended up costing us two goals, even if there was no lack of effort from the players.

At the moment, I feel we’re slightly too easy to disrupt and when we fall behind, we have a habit of letting our heads drop rather than being patient and sticking to our plan.

Saturday’s game against Rotherham will be a real test, and I really hope that after a week to prepare, we’re ready and able to get things off and running with three points.

Preston North End v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images


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