Well, it’s another new week, and another full of the usual fun and controversy in the wonderful world of Sunderland AFC.
We lost on Saturday to the team currently occupying second in the table having first gone ahead, only to get done by a lucky deflection and then defend terribly for the second. We showed no signs of getting back into the game, nor did we have inspiration coming from the bench. If there was supposed to be any new manager bounce on the back of the appointment of Michael Beale, I’m not quite sure it’s forthcoming - even if he’s had a fair to middling start as Head Coach in terms of the league results.
I wasn’t a fan of his appointment like the majority of supporters, but I said that he deserved a clean slate and a fair chance to show what he can do. I think most people thought the same, to be fair. When the right time to judge actually is, is entirely subjective. Some have already decided he’s not the right man and never will be, others are trying to remain hopeful that results will trend upwards rather than downwards once he’s got his feet under the table and perhaps once we’ve got a few signings through the door.
Time will tell, though I don’t see the fans who want rid of him already getting what they want just yet — I thought the sacking of Mowbray demonstrated that this lot have no real room for sentiment, but I don’t particularly feel that they’re about to start bowing to fan pressure and sacking a manager who has won two, lost two and drawn one in the Championship since arriving. I’ve seen some say they doubt he’ll see the season out but I think quite the opposite, unless our form dips so badly that we are heading towards the bottom three in the table in the style that Wayne Rooney did at Birmingham.
I think they know it was a ballsy move to make such an unpopular appointment and that they’ll double down on him, if anything. Again, time will tell.
Beale’s two wins to date came against fellow promotion chasers and we kept clean sheets. We aren’t playing with anywhere near the same level of excitement as we did at times under Mowbray, and it seems pretty clear to me that he’s substituted some of that style to try and be more solid.
It worked against Preston and Hull, but our lack of conviction and belief is what ultimately cost us the three points against Ipswich. It’s the first time all season that we’ve dropped points having gone ahead first, and I thought we lacked confidence in vital moments.
It made me wonder... just how damaging was the whole experience of playing and losing to Newcastle?
I heard Darren Bent on TalkSPORT through the week talking about how, after losing 5-1 to Newcastle during his time at Sunderland, the mood in the camp was flat leading up to the following game and the emotional toil of losing to our biggest rivals really affected our confidence on the training pitch. This stuck in my head in the days that followed, and when I spoke on our Twitter Space on Friday night I was the only one who predicted a loss. I just didn’t think we’d have anywhere near the confidence you need to be able to rock up at the home of the second best team in the division and take three points away with you.
It was going to be a tough ask to go there and get anything at all, but a combination of various things suggested to me that we’d not have enough to get a positive result — and that proved to be true.
The loss certainly hasn’t done much to help lift the mood. There’s an air of apathy about the club right now, and everyone’s at each other’s throats on the socials. People can’t agree on anything and battle lines are being drawn.
I found myself having to defend this platform over the weekend on the popular ReadyToGo forum, after I was tagged into a post on a thread about an article that appeared on our website from Mike Stubbs. It led to me needing to clear some things up about how everything works at Roker Report, and how fanzines work in general.
I thought it was worth mentioning in this week’s Editorial too, just in case anyone reading this would benefit from the clarification.
If you read an article on this website we usually include the name of the author in the byline, and you can always see the username of the writer at the top of the page. If it’s a letters feature we include the name we’ve been provided so that you can identify whose opinion it is. Unless it’s made very obvious that something is the viewpoint of a collection of us - like the Editorial article we posted addressing the Black Cats Bar fiasco on 05/01/2024, for example - then what you’re reading tends to be the view of one person.
Roker Report is a platform for ALL Sunderland supporters. The idea is that if you have something to say about anything relating to the club, you can send it my way and I’ll publish it (providing it’s not something so obscene that it’s likely to land us in legal hot water - I can’t take that risk). It gives every single supporter of our club the chance to have a voice.
As managing editor, it’s my responsibility to ensure that what we post on the website is edited and published, yes, but it’s also my job to ensure that EVERY viewpoint is posted without restriction. We are a platform for free speech, and I hope that this is reflected in our output. Regular readers I am sure know this, as on any given day you can visit this website and find five or six different articles relating to things going on at the club, all written by your fellow supporters, all with a slightly different take on whatever is ruling the conversations amongst supporters on any given day.
This means that more often than not I’m responsible for publishing opinions that I don’t necessarily fully agree with. Sometimes I’m in full agreement, but other times I completely disagree. This doesn’t matter, as the person who was good enough to send me their words has just as much of a right to their opinion as I or anyone else does.
So, there I was on ReadyToGo defending the platform as it appears that some folk believe when they read something on here that it’s the view of “Roker Report” - a united voice, and not just one person’s viewpoint out of a team of almost fifty people. Mike’s piece on the owner through the week was the example given on that particular occasion, but this happens often - people will mistakenly believe they’re reading something that is the view of the platform itself, which is ridiculous. Our team of volunteer writers is massive, and then we publish a variety of letters throughout the week from people outside our group.
I believe that Roker Report offers the biggest variation of long-form Sunderland opinions anywhere on the internet - so it rankles when we’re accused of having an agenda or bias here. It’s simply untrue and I’ll argue that point whenever someone says it.
So, just to make it clear once again - if you are reading this and you want to have your views on our club aired, be sure that Roker Report will help you to provide a platform on the website for what you want to say. Whether I or any other editor agrees with you doesn’t make a difference, because that defeats the point. Opinions make the world go round.
Sorry, just had to get that off my chest.