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Fan Letters: “I feel compelled to defend Kristjaan Speakman and the Sunderland model!”

Backing for Kyril Louis-Dreyfus’ ownership of Sunderland, another suggestion for a chant, and a gripe about the Stadium of Light scoreboards are in the RR mailbox today! Got something to say? Email us:

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

After listening to the most recent interview with Kristjaan Speakman and following the usual furore about signings, I felt compelled to defend Mr. Speakman and the current Sunderland ‘model’.

A lot of fans seem to want Kyril Louis-Dreyfus to throw money at the club without reason, but did that work with Ellis Short in charge? No, it didn’t.

Let’s not forget that owning a football club is exactly the same in principle as any other business, and any business has to be self-sufficient and to be able to stand on its own two feet. Otherwise, if the running tap of money is turned off, you’re in trouble, which is what happened at the end of the Short era.

Shall I mention the Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven debacle? OK, I won’t as we all know what happened, but throwing money at Will Grigg worked a treat.

The model they’ve put in place is effective. It’s not perfect, but it’s producing positive results more often than not.

I’ll give examples of players we have now compared with a few years ago:

Anthony Patterson or Lee Burge? Connor McLaughlin or Trai Hume? Tom Flanagan or Dan Ballard? Callum McFadzean or Dennis Cirkin? Josh Scowen or Pierre Ekwah? Aiden O’Brien/Will Grigg or Luis Hemir/Nazariy Rusyn/Alex Pritchard/Bradley Dack?

I could’ve included Ross Stewart but he’s no longer ours.

Regarding new players being introduced to the first team, it’s refreshing to see that if players have a mediocre debut, they aren’t discarded, never to be seen again. Instead, they’re given a chance to improve.

Think of Aji Alese on his debut or Pierre Ekwah. Neither player enjoyed a great first game, but they made huge strides forward and both ended up cementing their place in the team. Imagine if you started a new job in a foreign country and after you struggled on your first day, the boss pulled you to one side and handed you your P45.

For the first time in years, we have a squad of players who look overjoyed to be playing for Sunderland and who want to be here. I hope it continues.


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

I agree that our current way of working, although not perfect and marked by the occasional misstep in the transfer market, represents an extremely positive change for Sunderland.

In contrast to the often scattergun recruitment of the Ellis Short era, we’re building a squad organically, by providing young players with a chance, giving them the time and space to improve, and allowing their creativity to flourish.

Whenever we play nowadays, there’s often a real excitement about what might happen, and that’s due in no small part to the recruitment policy, as well as the exceptional standards of coaching that have been implemented since 2021.

Investing so heavily in young talent is something that hasn’t been done in recent years, but for a club like Sunderland, it’s the right path to be on, and it’s going to be exciting to see how these lads develop during this season and beyond.

Sunderland v Southampton FC - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

This chant might amuse, to the tune of ‘Niall Quinn’s Disco Pants’

‘Trai Hume’s porno tash is so hip

It goes from his nose to his lip

It’s better than a sack full of cash

Trai Hume’s Porno tash’.

Bjorn Shigg

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

If we’re going to resurrect one of the most famous Sunderland (and originally Manchester City) chants of all time, using it for one of the most popular players in the squad doesn’t sound like a bad idea!

Now, if only we could work out a way of all singing in time instead of completely out of sync with each other...

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

Dear Roker Report,

I think that if we’re going to try and keep the Stadium of Light modern, our current scoreboards need to be replaced with modern ones, so you can see replays.

Andy Smalley

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

I agree that our scoreboards could possibly do with being updated at some stage. During games, they often seem to be affected by glitches- and this seems to happen regularly when the line ups are displayed before kick off.

I suspect that replacing them isn’t particularly high on the club’s list of priorities at this stage, but hopefully it’ll be addressed in the future.

Sunderland v Southampton - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images


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