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Fan Letters: “There’s been no real improvement or decline under Michael Beale”

Arguments for and against giving Beale time to make his mark, as well as concerns about the players’ body language and the club ownership are in the RR mailbox today. Got something to say? Email us:

Photo by Martin Swinney/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Before the Ipswich game, I was willing to give Michael Beale a fair chance to claim his place among the brightest young coaching talents in the game.

However, after the game, I didn’t see anything to drastically change my mind.

Indeed, apart from two individual defensive errors, I thought we were the better of two ordinary teams and should’ve won the game, and I don’t blame Beale for the defeat. As far as I can see, he’s maintained an acceptable level of play but hasn’t improved it…yet!

I don’t care who you are: you can only work with what you’ve got, and we know we’re short of experience and a goal scorer.

Would Jürgen Klopp improve that squad within 8-10 games? I doubt it, so what are our owners expecting from Beale? Score more goals, concede less, and play attractive attacking football.

After four games, there’s been no marked improvement or noticeable deterioration, but with no real signs of improvement in our play, I can’t help thinking that Beale is drifting towards the last chance saloon, and I can’t see a posse on the horizon to drag him out of it.

Stephen Jameson

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Stephen. Thank you for your letter.

The points you make about Beale being given time to make his mark and implement his own style of play at Sunderland are valid, and he deserves a period of grace as he gets to know the squad and how best to ensure that we continue to progress.

One major problem is the fact that he wasn’t a particularly popular choice to replace Tony Mowbray and as a result, it feels as though every sub-par result is going to be scrutinised heavily.

At the moment, there’s little to suggest that we’re going to take significant steps forward any time soon, and we really need to see some evidence of the supposed tactical brilliance that was meant to have set Beale apart from the other candidates for the role.

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’ve been reading numerous letters on the need for another experienced striker, but before we may buy one, we should be considering a few facts.

The way we play at the moment is essentially a 4-2-3-1 formation and the lone striker (or sometimes another midfield player) is very often left isolated. This is because Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts hardly ever get the ball into the penalty area to create chances.

Can we blame the current set of strikers for not scoring if they get no service, and if the club gets a new striker, will he receive any service and therefore will he score?

Why doesn’t Michael Beale try a new formation, possibly a 3-5-2 with two strikers up front, and see if they can hit the net? It could save the club a packet!

It would also strengthen the midfield, stop us from being overrun and therefore make us harder to beat. It worked against Leeds, after all!

Food for thought.

Michael Hayes

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

The performances against West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United, both of which were overseen by Mike Dodds, were excellent, and in my opinion, they set a template that we’d be wise to at least try and build on.

At the moment, we’re often guilty of play too narrowly in an attacking sense, and there’s been a noticeable drop off in the tempo of our play, too. The midfield isn’t functioning as well as it can, with Dan Neil having to work extra hard to cover for Pierre Ekwah, who’s not in form at all.

A system change might give the players a new spark and could open up some new possibilities, but something certainly needs to happen for Friday’s game against Hull (including a start for Nazariy Rusyn), because at the moment, it feels slightly on the predictable and stale side.

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

Dear Roker Report,

Fifty years ago, I trained myself to watch facial expressions and body language and I find that our players aren’t currently the ‘Band of Brothers’ they were three months ago.

There’s not a smile or any chatter as they stand in the tunnel waiting to start a game. Instead, they all look serious, with shoulders down.

This must be the head coach’s fault, as I’ve yet to see him smile or congratulate the guys when a goal is scored, and he gives no encouragement during the game. Instead, he just stares and turns away.

I believe that the players don’t want to play for him, so something is terribly wrong.

Taking off Abdoullah Ba and Alex Pritchard against Ipswich was a serious error of judgment, as they were both playing well. Ba looked puzzled and Pritchard looked angry when he went off before turning away from Michael Beale.

We could’ve won this game in the first half, but their hearts weren’t in it, and so we lost.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and get a point from the next three tough games but if we don’t start getting wins like we used to, we’re going down the table faster than we climbed up, and we won’t finish in the top ten, never mind the top six.

Do we blame the coach or the upper management?

Bill Calvert

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Bill. Thank you for your letter.

I do agree that the players’ body language doesn’t seem overly positive right now.

The freedom and joy they’ve often played with since returning to the Championship seems to have disappeared, and the sense of excitement and flair that we saw against Southampton at home feels a long way away.

Perhaps they haven’t fully bought in to what Michael Beale is trying to do, or maybe they’re still adapting to life without Tony Mowbray, who did seem to have very positive working relationships with his players. Beale needs to try and rebuild that team spirit and ensure that his squad is fully unified.

A victory against Hull on Friday would put some smiles back on everyone’s faces, as we’ve all seen the effect that winning a game can have. Let’s hope they can perform to their potential, bank three points, and start to bring some of the enjoyment back, for everyone’s sake.

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

When are we going to get a chairman and a board with a passion for football and Sunderland Association Football Club?

It seems as though all they’re interested in is selling players once a Premier League side comes in for one of our young players, and therefore making a profit. So, where does that leave us on the pitch? It seems that all they think about is lining their pockets.

We’ve seen this over and over again.

We’re a big club with fantastic fans and we have crowds higher than some Premier League clubs. They deserve a lot more.

What the club did to Tony Mowbray was disgusting. He probably wouldn’t play to their tune, and now we have Michael Beale. I’m all for giving the guy a chance, but I really think it will end up a disaster.

The board wants a yes man all the time. We deserve more.

Ralph Ritchie

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

It’s important to highlight that at the time of writing, we haven’t sold a single player to a PL club, and the only key player to be sold under this regime is Ross Stewart, and we undoubtedly got the better end of that deal when Southampton came calling.

That said, the owners are in a difficult spot right now, after a series of PR mistakes and missteps, so this week’s meeting between the hierarchy and the supporter groups could be key.

Trust needs to be rebuilt and better communication between the club and the supporters needs to be established. That’s the only way we can continue to move forward and hopefully get Sunderland AFC back to where we all want it to be.

Sunderland v Coventry City - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images


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