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Fan Letters: “I am at a loss as to what the actual future holds”

We have a clash in the RR mailbag today with praise and criticism for the transfer policy, plus more on Ross Stewart and a view on Alex Pritchard! Got something to say? Email us:

Dear Roker Report,

The last 24 hours of the transfer window was traumatic, but not because of the flurry of late business. No, I found it traumatic entirely because of the number of bed-wetters and doom merchants that crawled out of the woodwork.

These people strongly asserted that Speakman was a charlatan, KLD was no better than the Chuckle Brothers, Stewart shouldn’t be going for less than £20m, and most of our squad was unhappy and wanting to leave. They were in no doubt that we were hurtling towards relegation and KLD had to sell up immediately.

I naturally pointed out that given the circumstances, £10m was actually a great piece of business. I was told I was somewhere between naive and the village idiot! Nevertheless, I stand by my assertion that this was great business. Stewart was bought for next to nothing, nobody really rated him when he arrived, he seems to be rather injury prone, and he’s still out injured.

He was also in the last year of his contract, with no intention or desire to sign a new contract, and we had already signed two strikers with another one on his way from Ukraine. In this context, £10m for him is incredibly good business and you’d be insane not to snatch Southampton’s hand off!

Fulham v Sunderland: Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

I also pointed out that we were following Brighton’s model, and I was immediately mocked for having no ambition because Brighton are apparently such a small club with limited success!

I confess it was particularly sweet that the next day this small-time club beat Newcastle and currently sit in sixth, just one win away from top. Call me small-minded and lacking ambition if you want, but I’d call that success in a league the top teams simply try to buy.

As fans, we really need to remember that Sunderland’s owners have a long-term plan, not a short-term fix. They want a sustainable club, not one that is entirely reliant on a rich benefactor with more money than sense. This will involve selling players. This will sometimes involve selling our better players. These moments may be painful, but it’s exactly what has to happen if we are to achieve long-term and sustained success.

Fans need to not only accept this, they need to embrace it.

Ha’way the Lads.

Andrew White

Ed’s Note [Chris]: Very rarely do I say this when replying to these Andrew - but I agree with everything you have said.

I’d also add to the Stewart debate that there’s a lad there who was in a position to make a huge amount of money, in what is likely his last big contract at that level - if we blocked everything then it can’t be fair on the player and you end up with, at best, a demotivated player.

On your point about Brighton, I agree that we’re doing something similar, but I’d argue we’re taking it even further with the age of the squad and we are also shopping in a different market, as their signing of Ansu Fati from Barcelona shows.

Sunderland v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship - Play Off - Semi Final - First Leg - Stadium of Light Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

So in the end no one wanted Alex. What a shock that an attacking midfield player who sometimes scores as many as four goals a season can be left to run down his contract and not be snapped up by another club. Never mind Sunderland will pay your wages to sit on the bench until next summer.

Gerald Kearney

Ed’s Note [Chris]: I think Alex Pritchard has been a good player for the Lads since he joined and he’s looked sharp when he’s appeared from the bench this season.

I’d agree it now makes the signing of Bradley Dack look a bit strange, but I’m all for giving the manager more options. It was one of our issues last season so I’ve got no problems at all that he’s still at the club.

Dear Roker Report,

I apologise for labouring the point, but I am at a loss as to what the actual future holds for the club and especially the fans. We have on paper, had a good transfer window and time will tell whether the new lads have what it takes.

However, I just know I am not alone with the feeling of discontentment at the so-called plan going forward. I am screaming for someone at the top to clarify things. Are we definitely going to be a club that buys young talent, ties them down to 4-5 year contracts and then sells them a few years down the line for a profit thus spending the money on even more hoped for bargains, or is there going to be a point when we say enough?

Will we ever get to a point whereby we actually keep hold of the best players without sending signals to the fans that they all have their price because that isn’t what I want to hear, and I know it is not what a lot of people want to hear.

Preston North End v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Mike Morese/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

I will think really hard next season if it is a case of getting bargain buys in and then selling them on. What about our concerns? We don’t want players to flourish only to be sold to someone else. We want them here to build going forward.

I know people will say look where we are now to where we were two seasons ago and I get it, but I simply cannot accept that I will be parting with hard earned cash next season not knowing if half the team might still be here. That is the crux of the matter.

Is this just another business venture for the top brass, or do they actually want to propel us to the Premier League to hopefully become established? One thing is for sure, it will not happen if we sell our best players.

The only bright spots is that offers for Clarke and Roberts were seemingly knocked back. Please someone just come out and tell us what we need to know. Stop the back-street gossip and someone please give us facts.

Peter Milton

Ed’s Note [Chris]: It might be a good idea for you and Andrew to thrash this out Peter. But, three things - what is the alternative? Are we not already keeping hold of our best players? Why do they need to explain their strategy in detail?

Sunderland v Southampton FC - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Martin Swinney/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Now that our top scorer has gone, I ask what happened behind the scenes to make him depart, apart from Money. Obviously he didn’t want to stay another season to see if we could get to “the promised land”, but will he help his new team?

I am suspicious of the fact that he might be injury prone, play a few games then end up on the injury list again, with Southampton wishing they had never bought him. Time will tell.

Good luck to him and hope he doesn’t score against us when we play, although Ballard might have something to say about that. Best Wishes to all at Roker Report.

Bill Calvert

Ed’s Note [Chris]: He hasn’t kicked a ball for 7-8 months so it has to be a bit of a gamble for Southampton. There’s been some complaints from our side about the price, but put yourself in their shoes and it’s a big leap of faith from them to shell out so much.

Fair play to him from my point of view, who knows how long he’s got left in the game and he’s never earned big money, so at the age of 27 he should probably jump at the chance. Cheers Bill, and best wishes to you as well.


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