Dear Roker Report,
I felt compelled to write in due to the current situation. This letter may not get published, as maybe everyone else has done the same thing!?
I draw my pension for the first time this year—jeez! I’m a retired deputy head; I like to think I’m fair-minded, and I certainly advocate consolidation and consistency. The way we’ve changed whoever has been in charge over recent seasons only challenges Watford! I’ve supported SAFC for approaching 60 years (gasp) and can’t stand ‘knee-jerk’ reactions. I currently live in Worcestershire, still a season card holder (a 500-mile round trip every home game)—so at least that all gives me some weight for my opinion to be listened to.
Whatever line of work we’re in, we’ve all come across bosses/managers whose persona/front/character immediately makes you groan inside, making you think ‘I’m not sure I can work for this guy/woman.’ They lack motivational skills, and enthusiasm, and have a ‘dull’ personality. It’s well known in the teaching profession that some educators get a degree at university, then when they look for a job in their mathematical or science field (for example), they can’t find one—so they think, ‘Oh, I’ll just get a teaching post in a school.’ These people may be excellent in what they know, but they can’t teach! They can’t motivate students or engage with them no matter their qualifications because they can’t communicate in a down-to-earth, direct, friendly, understandable way. Have you guessed where I’m going with this? Enter Mr Beale!
But the other side of my need to write is regarding TM. I read recently that Neil Warnock said a good manager is 95% man-management and only a small portion tactical ability. I’ve always believed this to be true. How can someone be in football for over 40 years but somehow not have the tactical knowledge of a younger man? Who are these people who think TM ‘had taken us as far as he could?’ How does anyone know that? I think the fan base is now seeing the importance of someone who can communicate with the supporters and the squad—tactical ability or not. I also wonder if Speakman is also realizing that this model of being able to replace the head coach and someone else comes in with little disruption. Little disruption!? You can’t replace a well-liked teacher and tell the students ‘You have a new teacher - he knows his stuff and is an upgrade on your last teacher’ and hope this perfectly appeases the class.
A Man Utd friend of mine (I know, but I did say I was a fair-minded guy) saw Beale on TV after a defeat and asked me ‘Who’s your new manager?! He’s wet!’ My point entirely. I also said on X after TM was sacked, that Speakman would be in the spotlight if he got this wrong, and he now is.
No self-respecting coach worth their salt could stay in a job where their hands are tied. For those who shout that TM and Neil knew what they were signing up for, I doubt very much that they understood ‘they’d have little input in incoming players,’ even if it was blindingly obvious what was needed. And Dack, by the way, is a far better player than we’ve seen—ask any Blackburn fan. TM had not all of a sudden become stupid! And his latter-day flatness may well have been due to what he knew was coming.
Other ‘underwhelming’ recent managers: Wilkinson, Grayson, Parkinson—begs the question: is his real name not Bealeson!? Coleman, for example, ultimately didn’t succeed, but he wasn’t immediately underwhelming.
Beale doesn’t fit, no amount of future good results will change that. KTF.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Hi John! First off: of course we’ll publish your letter. We publish every single one we receive!
I don’t have a good feeling about Beale either and I do think communication is a large part of it, but the most important part is what happens on the pitch. If we’d won more games since he arrived people wouldn’t be shouting for him to leave. The total lack of enthusiasm towards the appointment combined with long-standing issues people have with the club off the pitch which have came to a head recently have immediately put Beale under pressure. I guess in that sense I feel a little sorry for him. But, if he wants to be our manager his team needs to play better and win games. Right now we look like we’ve lost our mojo, and he needs to find that soon. When I say soon, I mean when we play Stoke. If we lose another home game I think they might actually sack him, which sounds crazy even typing it out, but that’s where we are.
I can’t ever remember things falling apart for a manager as early as this.
Dear Roker Report,
I thought I would wait 24 hours to digest the Hull result prior to writing. First off, I never wanted Tony Mowbray to be sacked.
When Michael Beale was linked with Sunderland, I initially thought it was paper talk. My thoughts were to let Mike Dodds take charge for the rest of the season until the right man is available.
Once he was announced, I wasn’t convinced as he didn’t really fit with my idea of a Sunderland Manager; however, I conceded to give him a chance as I do with all new Managers.
In my 45 years of watching Sunderland, the Managers with the most success have a certain personality that is capable of taking charge of Sunderland and also “get” the club and the area. Ken Knighton, Alan Durban, Len Ashurst, Dennis Smith, Malcolm Crosby to a certain extent, Peter Reid, Mick McCarthy, Roy Keane, Sam Allardyce, and Tony Mowbray all had a certain grit and fight and a big enough personality to take on the club. Michael Beale is not in the same league as any of the mentioned Managers. Even the king of the draw, Jack Ross, was head and shoulders above this man.
It is highly unusual for a Manager to take over a team that is doing well. Beale took charge of a team that there wasn’t a lot wrong with; play a striker, and you’re already off to a good start. We have gone backward in my opinion; the defense looks shaky, Ekwah is a shadow of the player he was, Jobe looks mentally exhausted, and Rusyn must wonder why on earth he got on the plane. Also, is Clarke unable to actually cross a ball? Run down the wing, cut back on your right foot, and play the ball backward or infield. Rinse and repeat.
I don’t like Managers getting the sack, but for the sake of our club, the players, and our season, get rid now. Realise a mistake has been made and rectify it.
John N (in Durham)
Dear Roker Report,
Why on earth was Michael Beale given a three-year contract? Why was he not given just until the end of the season? When Tony Mowbray was initially appointed, he was given only until the end of the season. Then, after nearly performing a miracle and just missing out on promotion, the hierarchy wanted to get rid of him instead of rewarding him with a contract. Due to fan and media pundits’ pressure, Mowbray was given a contract just for one season?
How does this make sense? Mowbray’s style of play was wonderful to watch, whereas Beale’s style is so boring; it’s like watching paint dry! Now the management must know what a cock-up they have done. Why don’t they come out to the fans and explain why they sacked Tony Mowbray and replaced him with completely hopeless Michael Beale? Now it’s going to cost them three years’ salary to sack Beale, and that money could have bought some quality players.
Just one other note that I will go further is the way Jewison Bennett has been treated, and I think this is awful as they are destroying his confidence by not giving him any minutes and just sitting on the sub bench on occasions. He is an international, and it must be soul-destroying to be playing for the reserves. As there is nothing now to play for this season, please start giving games to youngsters like Bennett and Rigg.
Let’s not be optimistic that there is still a chance for playoffs. A mid-table finish will be more realistic. This team now has no confidence, and mainly the fans must be answered by the management as to why they are making pathetic decisions.
Dear Roker Report,
When I first swapped one of my Celtic shirts for a Vaux Sunderland shirt in 1989, I have had a massive soft spot for the Black Cats.
I have been to a few matches over the years; Coventry away in League One and took my then 10-year-old to the SoL v Blackburn Boxing Day 2022 stand out for me. My lad fell in love with going to the match that day and football.
Safe to say I am not a die-hard, but I am invested. So when Michael Beale was appointed, I was disappointed. This is not a Celtic thing; this is all about Sunderland. I just have a working knowledge of the type of manager Beale is.
He got a lot of plaudits for the Gerrard era at Ibrox. He was the brains of the operation to many. More so when he was appointed Rangers manager and was heralded as the second coming. He had Ange Postecoglou’s number and would deliver the title.
Of course, we know what happened and was relieved of his duties when it became apparent Beale was tactically inept, unable to get a tune out of a player, and his attitude toward failure was anyone, anything but Michael Beale.
He became something of a joke character for a number of fans in the SPFL, and I fear history is repeating itself. This time, it isn’t funny, however.
Sunderland fans deserved better than getting an out-of-work manager who couldn’t get a tune out of the biggest wage bill in Scotland. If that isn’t a red flag, what is? Nans are supposed to be able to win that league, but for all Beale’s tactical prowess and world-class training methods, he couldn’t manage it. His ego saw to that.
Onwards and upwards!
Dear Roker Report,
I’m writing to address something which I feel is missed or glossed over by many when they scream out (quite rightly) for an accomplished striker. The way we set up and play at present would mean that Haaland would struggle to get goals in this team. On those all too rare occasions where we actually put a striker on the pitch, our midfield players and wingers supply no decent service for them. How many times do we see Rusyn in midfield looking for a ball? If Hemir comes on, he’s often behind the “no. 10” as he’s looking to get involved. So as much as we do need a proven striker, we also need a coach who can remind Clarke and Co that crosses into the middle are needed.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: That’s not the first time I’ve seen someone make that comment about Haaland, Steve - and you’re dead right. The team Beale picked on Friday night had zero width, so where were we expecting to create the chances from?
If we had played Pembele and Ba or Bennette down that right hand side the other day I genuinely think we win the game, as we had most of the ball but nothing in terms of creativity from that side of the pitch. If we can see it, why can’t they?
Rangers fans told us that Beale doesn’t like width and that his teams play quite narrow — if that’s true, I just don’t see things improving in front of goal.
Dear Roker Report,
Two simple suggestions to make:-
- The sooner Speakman is removed from the position that allows him to whisper into Dreyfus’ ear, the better. What does a privileged, removed-from-reality, mummy’s boy know about anything? Speakman has well and truly got him in his grip. Perhaps they both need to go before anything really changes.
- If Tony Mowbray had been allowed to bring in a “nasty,” experienced defensive midfielder and a “real handful,” experienced centre forward, we would have been simply sitting at the top of the league alongside Ipswich, Southampton, and Leeds.
My first match at Roker Park was v Aston Villa (1 - 1) in 1961, and my last will be at SoL v Sheffield Wednesday, May 2024. I’ve simply had enough!