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Fan Letters: “Without question, Jack Clarke is Sunderland’s most valuable individual asset!”

“Perversely, perhaps the sale of our best player, Clarke, is the key to us taking that next step towards promotion,” writes RR reader David Smith. Got something to say? Email us: RokerReport@Yahoo.co.uk

Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Without question, Jack Clarke is Sunderland’s most valuable individual asset on the books. His ability to cut inside, seemingly unstoppable to fullbacks, and get a shot off has led to his haul of 12 goals so far this season. His potential at the top level is clear for all to see. Despite this, I hold the unpopular opinion that cashing in now could be the catalyst for our promotion push.

If rumours are to be believed, there are many interested parties, with West Ham, Palace & Brentford all mooted as potential destinations, with a transfer fee of around £25m likely to prise away our star player. So why let him go, you may ask?

The statistics prove that Sunderland can dominate between the boxes, but they struggle to create clear-cut opportunities in the opposition box. This lack of creativity, or direction as to the type of goals we’re trying to score, led, in my view, to Tony Mowbray’s recent departure. I’m yet to see this improve under Michael Beale; in fact, our XG (quality of chances created) has recently plummeted.

The facts also show that Sunderland’s two leading creative players have only three assists between them (Clarke 2, Roberts 1) from their collective 49 appearances. It’s no surprise then that our forwards haven’t been firing either; they’ve been feeding off scraps. Both wide men have a tendency to cut inside with the intention of offloading a shot on target, or in Roberts’ case this season dribbling into an opposing defender.

Should the sale of Clarke allow us to reinvest in a new front 3, with the opportunity to sign players with attributes that complement each other, then this could transform our season, unlocking our ability to find the back of the net on a more regular basis. The recent rumours around Kieffer Moore are welcomed; however, if we persist with our current wingers, who are seemingly reluctant to cross the ball, you are wasting his key aerial attribute, and it’s unlikely we’ll see the best of him.

For all the talk of the ‘model’ being flawed, I don’t believe it is. We need to accept that all clubs outside the ‘top 6’ are selling clubs and acknowledge where we are in the football pyramid. We need to have faith that the recruitment team will find two or three suitable replacements for Clarke, supplemented by the exciting young talents of Tommy Watson, who could well break into the first team over the next year or two. We have a tendency as Sunderland fans, myself included, to emotionally attach ourselves to select individuals, and Clarke is no exception. Possibly, we need to give this model a chance and put some faith in those in charge to get this team creating better chances... and finish them off!

Perversely, perhaps the sale of our best player, Clarke, is the key to us taking that next step towards promotion.

David Smith

Sunderland v Newcastle United - Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’ve been a proud Sunderland supporter for over 60 years, and after the disgraceful sacking of the best manager Sunderland has seen in many years, and the way it was done was shameful. He had these young players playing the best football we had seen for a long time. All other clubs could see it as well. It was the manager who instilled confidence in their ability to play exciting football. Not Speakman, not the Chairman, but Tony Mowbray. All he wanted was more experienced football signings to help these young lads on the field. Now he’s left us for Birmingham City, and I am sure he will turn them around because they will listen to him. Good luck Tony, lots of Sunderland supporters didn’t want you to leave.

Against Newcastle, we were powderpuff. If Tony had been in charge, I’m sure the lads would have performed better. Seems the sacking has taken their confidence away. Sorry to say I am ashamed for my Club. If a manager can be sacked after all he’s done for the club, what else is this Chairman capable of doing?

Edmund Trenbirth

Millwall v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dylan Hepworth/MB Media/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

It’s good to have put the Wear-Tyne derby day behind us. Hopefully, we can build from here as it represented a useful reality check, and hopefully, lessons learned. I would never dream of using the word “benchmarking” here since it would imply that the barcodes represent a higher standard compared to us.

As a supporter since 1969, there is one issue that has annoyed me over the last ten years. The picture of the dirty knees is recurrently highlighted (I would rather not use the owner’s name), as if he is one of our big heroes. In the build-up to the derby, we saw it again and again. We have to admit it was a big mistake to bring him into our beloved club, for two reasons. Firstly, as a manager, he was completely incompetent. I tend to think we got that glorious victory against the mags back in 2013 despite him, not because of him. Luckily, after 13 disastrous matches, Gus came in and eventually provided us with the great escape. Secondly, his ideological standards with links to Italian fascism did indeed cost us a lot of sympathy and even supporters. When we, rightly so, criticize Toon for their dirty money and ownership, it feels a bit hollow when we simultaneously refer to such a dubious character as one of our big heroes. By doing so, we give our not-so-beloved neighbors a chance to go about their whataboutism.

Just some thoughts from over the ditch (read: Norway). Ha’way the lads!

Knut Jonassen

Sunderland v Newcastle United - Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
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