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Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Letters: “Momentum is key and it was a bad start for Sunderland”

Reflections on Sunday’s performance against Ipswich, an unfortunate miscommunication at one of the stadium bars, and thoughts on the Batth/Ballard partnership are in the RR mailbox today! Got something to say? Email us:

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

Dear Roker Report,

I write this after watching Sunday’s game in Puerto Pollensa.

As a Sunderland fan for over forty years, the result didn’t surprise me. I had an awful feeling beforehand because we still have no decent experienced striker and we haven’t replaced Amad.

It was clear that we were very poor compared to last season and I congratulated the surprising contingent of Ipswich fans that had found the only sports bar in the resort. I told them they fully deserved the win and that they’d executed the game plan to perfection.

I totally buy into the philosophy of buying talented youngsters but you also need some experienced players in the mix.

I know it’s the first game but momentum is key and I’m really worried by that performance.

I’m also puzzled by the fact that we have a billionaire owner and we sold over 30,000 season tickets yet we can’t pay a couple of million for some quality players to add to the incredibly talented group of youngsters.

I was quite a critic of Tom Cowie and Bob Murray but they would’ve at least put their hands in their pocket for a decent striker. Sunderland supporters have bought into the philosophy of buying young talent but please don’t rely on this alone.

I watched the game in a sports bar which was packed out to see the Charity Shield and I couldn’t but help glance over at the sheer quality on display. My two kids were watching in old strips as Sunderland couldn’t be bothered to release or ship the new shirts in time.

Whist I’m on my soapbox, can I also just say that my wife and family are all black and white and it was really touch and go that they supported my team, so please don’t lose the optimism of last season, and don’t take us for mugs.

What really made me a bit upset was when my family left a very nice Indian restaurant in the resort and a family on table shouted out that the result wasn’t good.

I caught the southern twang and I automatically thought they were Ipswich supporters but it was a family from Brighton who supported Sunderland, and we had a good chat and shook hands.

It’s a special club but please don’t take the support for granted.


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

When it comes to scepticism about our owner and the way things are being done at the club, I just think that we have to show some faith in those making the key decisions and trust that they know what needs to be done.

It’s important to remember that the footballing side of the club, which was a shambles for so many years, has been completely overhauled, and certainly for the better.

We’ve built an exciting and progressive squad, and it’s almost certain that there’ll be more players arriving before the transfer window closes.

The only way that large sums of money are going to be spent is on the back of player sales, and it’s also obvious that the policy that led the club to the brink of ruin under Ellis Short isn’t going to be repeated under KLD. That’s not a bad thing at all.

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

Dear Roker Report,

After all the controversy and communication problems with digital ticketing, I attended the match on Sunday in the hope that all was sorted.

I arrived early as requested and was approached by attendants asking if I was OK with the new system of entry.

I confirmed that I had a plastic season card and hoped it would work. I was also advised that I could only use it within the gate numbers quoted on my card (41-44) and so I waited at gates 41-42.

Whilst waiting for the doors to open, a different attendant told me I could use any of the turnstiles.

I said that this contradicted what I’d been told earlier and asked her to ensure that the correct information was passed to supporters. Once inside, I decided to take advantage of the offer of a half price drink which had been advertised prior to the match in the hope that it would encourage earlier attendance.

However, I was shocked to be asked to pay full price, and when I questioned this they said it was season ticket holders only.

I confirmed that I was a season card holder and showed my plastic card. Feeling like a second class supporter, I questioned all six members of the bar staff whether they were of a similar understanding and they said they were.

I said that I wouldn’t be paying £4.40 for a £2.20 pint, but just as I was about to leave the bar, a manager walked past. I stopped him and explained the situation and he agreed that the price was £2.20.

This was another major problem caused by poor communication from the club. When will they learn?

Bill Fisher

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Bill. Thanks for getting in touch and sharing your experience at the stadium on Sunday.

By all accounts, the new digital ticketing system worked rather well, and in the concourse area near my seat in the north west corner, everyone seemed to be getting into the stadium in good time and the queues at the bars seemed to be being managed quite efficiently, too.

Overall, the opening day seemed to go far less chaotically than many of us might’ve feared, but from what you’ve said, it certainly wasn’t perfect and hopefully the club will take the feedback on board and continue to improve the fan experience and standard of customer service on match days.

Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’ve been banging on about this for a while but it’s a complete myth that Danny Batth and Dan Ballard make up our best centre back partnership.

Individually, they were very good when fit, but as a partnership they didn’t do brilliantly.

We only picked up five wins and four clean sheets out of the sixteen games they played together, and they also had some bad days at the office, such as the 1-5 defeat to Stoke.

Obviously the club have committed to Ballard as our first choice centre back, so have they factored the above statistics in to their decision to potentially let Batth go? I’d guess so.


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

I agree that Ballard is definitely our first choice central defender and arguably the player who we could most likely build a backline around for the seasons to come.

Although it’s important to stress that there’s been no official confirmation of Danny Batth’s exit, perhaps the club sees Ballard’s skill on the ball and range of passing as being a more useful attribute than Batth’s more rugged approach, certainly in the long-term.

Personally, I think they could form a very reliable partnership, given a run of games together, but with Nectar Triantis waiting in the wings as well, defensive depth is perhaps not our most pressing issue at this moment in time.

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


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