Dear Roker Report,
I was at the QPR game and was sitting among the home fans, having failed to get hold of an away ticket, and I wanted to mention the conversation that Luke O’Nien had with the referee, shortly before Jack Colback got sent off.
QPR’s Sinclair Armstrong had been putting himself about a bit, and he decided to go through the back of O’Nien near the corner flag as the skipper was shepherding the ball out of play.
As the referee awarded a free kick, O’Nien took the opportunity to have what looked like a quiet conversation with him, and he was gesturing across to the place where Armstrong had wrestled Dan Ballard to the ground a few minutes earlier.
There’s also a great clip of Trai Hume’s response to this on Twitter.
Of course, he might’ve been pointing to the place where Niall Huggins got dumped into the hoardings without Sunderland being awarded anything more than a throw, because at that stage in the game, there was lots going on.
However, it seemed pretty clear what he was saying.
He talked to the referee in a low-key way, for quite a long time (as captain, he’s allowed to do that) and he seemed to make the point about the Ballard ‘tackle’ a couple of times.
The QPR fans were pretty irritated by this and shortly afterwards, Colback felled Jobe and was shown a red card. After that, for the next fifteen minutes, O’Nien was booed by them every time he was on the ball.
We all know that he’s great at some of football’s shithousery, but it seems that he might’ve taken it to a new level as captain.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Andrew. Thanks for your letter.
Personally, I think O’Nien is doing an exceptional job.
After five years at Sunderland, he's well-versed in how a leader in red and white should conduct themselves, and from his willingness to engage with supporters off the pitch to his no-nonsense approach in games, I think he’s stepped up and really grown into the role since being given the armband.
O’Nien is the kind of player that every team needs but that opponents always hate playing against, because he’s often a pain in the backside, which means he’s absolutely on the right track as Sunderland captain!
Dear Roker Report,
I’m only twenty four years old, but this is the best Sunderland team I’ve ever seen.
This team is going to get promoted, and I’ve put money on it!
It was class in the away end at Blackburn once again. There’s a different feeling about the place, and we look even better than last season, somehow.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Jack. Thanks for getting in touch.
I’m a decade older than yourself and I absolutely agree that this team is up there with the finest Sunderland squads I can remember- including the likes of the 2006/2007 promotion-winning team.
We’ve got talent everywhere you look, we’re playing brilliant football, and the lads are clearly enjoying life on Wearside and they’re showing that in their performances.
In my time as a Sunderland supporter, Peter Reid’s team of 1998/1999 remains the gold standard, but Tony Mowbray’s current squad is certainly heading in the right direction and who’s to say that they won’t be the group who can finally end our top flight exile?
Dear Roker Report,
Why do we seem to have so many injuries?
It’s the only issue I’ve got at the minute. The injury list is massive and not getting any smaller, and it cost us promotion last season.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Tom. Thanks for your letter.
It’s a real mystery as to why we seem to keep being hindered by knocks and strains to key players.
We’ve discussed theories such as poor training standards or players not being robust enough, but perhaps it’s simply a case of misfortune, rather than anything we can control.
Once it clears up and we get a clean bill of health, our squad will look seriously strong, and that’ll be a huge boost as we aim for promotion this season.