Dear Roker Report,
After a busy week down the old business factory, I haven’t really had the time to keep up with the goings on at Sunderland, or what I find arguably just as entertaining, the fans' reaction. I should add that this is impressive because I find the team great to watch at present.
So with a glass of wine or two and Forest v Sheffield on in the background, I thought I’d put some words down.
As is the case with fans from every club, hysteria can be commonplace. The tiniest of actions, or in our case, inactions, can set in motion reactions that are way out of proportion.
This is at every club so it doesn’t bother me either way, with that lot up the road being an exception. Thankfully whatever’s in the water up there cajoling them to shout at high-street shops has been contained in Newcastle.
What I have noticed lately, though, is that we seem hell-bent on getting rid of any players old enough to get served in the Lansdowne after the match. Batth rumours were puzzling, Gooch ones are upsetting but to get rid of Alex Pritchard would be flat-out self-sabotage.
I’m a big fan of all three, and all the players in the squad for what it’s worth, so I’ve been happy enough to see players go, trusting the club to replace them with better. But why on earth would we consider getting rid of a player of that quality, typically of the perfect age in football, who obviously has got his head right in a team he wants to be at? He also brings bags of experience, if you’re listing his positives and negatives it’s about as balanced as a geordie’s diet.
My final point too, I really commend our transfer strategy, but if you’re a club like Sunderland surely you can go a bit further than free transfers and bargains. As fantastic as I think pretty much every one of Speakman’s transfers have been, why not trust him with a bit more money? I’m no expert but can’t he be trusted looking at players who cost a bit more and turning a profit on them still?
The second half is about to start so I’ll get back to it.
Ed’s note [Martin]: Thanks for your email Jake. I think over-reaction and indignation are common place for any club’s fans on social media. In a world in which every has the ability to broadcast their views to the world, it’s the loudest/angriest/most extreme that get the cut through and ultimately get noticed! There’s no room for balanced views online. Fortunately, that’s only a small percentage of supporters in the grand scheme of things.
It’s interesting you praise our approach to transfer business but bemoan the possible departures of Batth, Pritchard and Gooch, as in my mind that’s on in the same. I think it’s a mistake to get rid of the three of them – not necessarily for their footballing ability as I think we can replace all of them pretty easily, but for their experience and leadership. These younger players need older heads around them as far as I’m concerned, and if we let Batth and Prichard in particular go this window without replacing their experience as well as their ability, I’ll be concerned.
Dear Roker Report
Just to say a big Thank You to Barnes & Benno ….
For 20 years, you have provided entertainment in bucket loads through thick and (most often) thin to distant fans and people living locally but unable to make it regularly to games.
Your fantastic rapport brings a little bit of sunshine to even the most dismal performances and results.
Outstanding moments include:
Continuing the commentary from Norwich on mobile phones when the usual communications broke down (sounded like they were speaking from inside a bucket!)
Lockdown commentaries where they were socially distanced in the same room watching different screen running at different download speeds and Benno kept telling Barnesy what was GOING to happen next.
Not forgetting those memorable ladies from Accrington Stanley who kept joining in the commentary …. best line “You’re getting the names all wrong!” and the barrage of expletives when McGeady came on as a sub.
Thank you for always being there
(I even managed to listen to the play off games while on top of a mountain in the Italian Alps)
Keep up the good work chaps!
Mel Oyston, Lincolnshire
Ed’s note [Martin]: Thanks for the email Mel, and I fully agree – Nick and Benno are great value and provide an excellent service for supporters unable to attend the games. They’re both top people, and of course all of us here at Roker Report wish Benno the very, very best in his current health battle.
Dear Roker Report,
About this season’s transfers.
My gripe is the quality of player brought in. If we buy or acquire players that have not played at a high enough level, we will end up playing in League One once again.
My theory is that the owner and the other people involved with recruitment are trying to either undermine Tony Mowbray to either give him the sack or for him to leave on his own accord, especially in regard to the lack of an experienced striker(s).
Ed’s note [Martin]: Thanks for the email Stephen. Look, I’d like us to bring in a couple of players who are proven to be able to play either Premier League or top-end championship, and could still improve, as I think the experience they’d bring would be valuable (particularly, as mentioned above, if we sell Batth and Pritchard). But using your recruitment criteria, you’d be griping our signings whatever league we were in, as apart from Dack, they’re all unproven in senior football.
The thing about our approach to transfers now is that we’re signing players who the club believes have the ability to play in the league we’re in now, and can improve significantly in the future, too. None of us know who’s going to be able to perform to a high championship standard this season and who isn't – but the club believes they all will be able to.
Back in 17-18, we signed Jason Steele, Lee Camp, Marc Wilson, Callum McManaman and Jonny Williams, and had Cattermole, O’Shea, Oviedo, and Kone, who were all very experienced Championship and Premier League players – and we all know how that ended.
I don’t see any evidence of them trying to force Mowbray out at all – the club’s sticking to it’s recruitment plan, and it’s a plan that’s not wavered since Mowbray took the job.
Dear Roker Report,
I have just seen the prices for the away game at Coventry, and I’m stunned at how much they are trying to charge. £37 for an adult is bad enough, but then there aren’t any genuine child tickets available either. Taking my 8-year-old son would cost an additional £25.
I have complained to both Coventry City and the EFL. The EFL have responded basically saying they aren’t breaking any rules as their U14 category tickets are only available to home fans who have purchased a Sky Blues membership at a cost of £50.
£25 for a child entry has to be the highest across all four divisions.
I’m voting with my feet on this one and simply refuse to pay those prices. Judging by the ticket sales during the phases, others are doing the same.
I feel very much that, in particular, the child pricing is at best short-sighted and at worse pure greed. It’s high time the powers that be clamped down on this disgusting pricing.
I’m glad other clubs recognise that the kids are their future adult fans and are priced much more reasonably for home and away fans.
Ed’s note [Martin]: Thanks Ken – yep, it’s pure greed, and there’s only one way to change it and that’s refuse to pay. As long as people keep paying, clubs will keep charging. Hopefully we charge Coventry fans the same as they’re charging us, but really until the EFL take control of this and put a cap on tickets prices, it’s going to keep happening.