Dear Roker Report,
I went to my first Sunderland match with my grandad as a nine-year-old in 1950, and I’ve been a Sunderland fan ever since.
I was devastated when they were relegated in 1958, and ever since then, it’s been an up and down story with highlights such as the 1973 FA Cup win, but we’ve never been as dominant since that first relegation!
I confess that I had great hopes of a real comeback under the present owner, but sadly, I now feel dismayed that we’re once again drifting back into a state of total uncertainty.
Everyone knew that we needed a striker. That much has been obvious since the season started and we should’ve been on the ball on the first day of the January window, yet here we are, twenty four days in and there’s still no sign of action.
We sacked Tony Mowbray because he said that we needed a striker, and appointed a nonentity because we could get him for free!
I could go on, but at eighty three years old, I’m so depressed by it all that I’ve almost given up hope and I doubt that I’ll ever see ‘my team’ back in the top division.
Such a shame, but given the present situation, I honestly don’t see our current management team from the top downwards having the ability to reignite the players- who all look really demotivated at the moment- into the force they were just a few weeks ago.
I hope I’m wrong, but that’s all I’m left with. Depressing, isn’t it!
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Roy. Thank you for getting in touch.
I agree that the feelgood vibe that’s surrounded the club since we achieved promotion has dissipated somewhat in recent weeks, but although things don’t feel as optimistic as they have done, I still think we’ve got a chance- however slim- of turning this season into a successful one.
First and foremost, we simply have to pick up positive results from our next two games, which won’t be an easy task in itself, and if things go pear-shaped against Stoke and Middlesbrough, I can see the club being forced into a decision regarding Michael Beale’s future.
The players need direction and something to spark them into life, as you rightly say.
I’m not convinced that Beale is the man to oversee a dramatic upswing in results, but I guess we’ve all just got to hope that something will click and he’ll stumble upon a formula that’ll get more out of the squad than is currently the case.
Dear Roker Report,
The team is full of kids who are nowhere near ready for the top of the Championship, let alone the Premier League.
The team is weaker than last season and Sunderland fans need to wake up and smell the hot dogs.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Mark. Thank you for your letter.
Experience is something that everyone seems to be talking about at the moment, and it’ll doubtless rumble on as the young players continue to develop and experience the highs and lows that making your way in senior football can throw up.
As the Newcastle game showed, they’re certainly not ready for the top flight yet, but in two or three years’ time, who’s to say that they won’t be ready to make that step up? They know the level they need to reach and the hard part will be reaching it, but they’ve all got the ability to do it.
Dear Roker Report,
I emailed the ticket office, but received no reply.
We were moved from the North Stand and my mate and I hadn’t heard anything from the club about tickets. They were paid for in the East Stand on December 20th and we thought we’d be able to use our plastic season card to get in.
However, on Friday 5th January, we found out that we had to have the ticket on our phones (we hadn’t received them), so we went to the ticket office on the morning of the game to find out what was going on.
It turns out that because we had plastic season cards, they’d put the numbers 1234 in front of our email address. This was to prevent digital tickets from being sent to us.
So, how they expected us to get digital tickets when our email address was wrong because of the numbers they’d put in front of it beggars belief. I’d been wondering why I hadn’t had any received emails from the club shop!
They probably won’t reply, and it’s just another bad set of decisions made by the club.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Joe. Thank you for getting in touch.
Another day, another letter expressing discontent at the club’s shambolic ticketing system. It’s all too familiar now, and the debacle of fans being displaced for the FA Cup tie has clearly led to plenty of frustration from supporters such as yourself.
Let’s hope the club learns from it and takes steps to bring the ticketing system up to a higher standard, because these long-running issues simply can’t be overlooked any longer.
Dear Roker Report,
I found myself at a loose end, so here we are.
As ‘#BealeOut’ is picking up more speed, I thought I’d air my opinions on our transfer dealings- or lack thereof.
There’s been a lot of attention on our lack of a centre forward, but we have four there, and three of them have shown in spells that there’s something about them.
Nazariy Rusyn with his pace and generally purposeful running, Hemir with his goals in pre season, and Eliezer Mayenda looks fast as anything. Also, Mason Burstow actually gave the training balls ‘net rash’, and Tony Mowbray seemed to know a bit about football so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
Not one of them has had the lickings of a dog and what I’d like to see is one or even two of them given a good run in the side.
For all the stick the club gets, they’ve actually brought in some brilliant players for the levels we’ve been at, so I’d like to think at least one of those forwards will be a success.
Sadly though, I can’t see it happening.
Rusyn put in a shift against Newcastle before being dropped. Mayenda probably should be given a run, and doesn’t make the squad, and Hemir is apparently set to be sent out on loan and will probably get more minutes than he’s accumulated during the rest of the season.
Basically, you can’t trust the development of young players with a head coach who was hired on borrowed time.
It’d be great if Michael Beale flipped a switch and turned into a good fit overnight, but I haven’t seen a single redeeming quality yet.
The football has been crap; I don’t think I’ll ever forgive the setup for the derby, and he doesn’t seem like a pleasant person. I don’t expect him to take the blame for everything, but digging out fans for shouting ‘Beale Out’ and putting that on the young players raised an eyebrow or two.
To top it all off, there’s ‘no interest’ in Yann M’Vila.
I wrote the other day about him being an open goal in the PR sense, but I thought that his status as one of the highest quality players I’ve seen at the club would be accepted as a given.
He was playing in the Champions League last year, so it isn’t like Djibril Cisse or Asamoah Gyan touting a return. Instead, he’d be taking a step down and he’d also be the perfect player for Pierre Ekwah to shadow.
Most of all, he wants to be here, so bring him home!
I’ve rambled enough but in my opinion, we should get shot of Beale, bring in Steve Cooper or Mike Dodds until May and then appoint Will Still.
Also, whoever’s responsible for the Black Cats’ Bar fiasco should be paraded around the pitch at half time and have their address published in the Echo.
Thanks for listening.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Jake. Thank you for your letter.
On the issue of strikers, I did find the recent treatment of Nazariy Rusyn very strange, and it was equally surreal to see Hemir coming off the bench against Hull when Michael Beale had previously spoken about loaning him out.
Quite what this is doing for the confidence of these lads is anyone’s guess but there needs to be some clarity established, and fast.
On a possible return for Yann M’Vila, I can understand why people would be desperate for him to return, because as Jean Michaël Seri has shown at Hull, a classy midfield operator is worth his weight in gold at this level.
It seems unlikely to happen, though, and let’s hope the club have some other options lined up, because a strong defensive central midfielder is a must during this transfer window.
Dear Roker Report,
I commend Rachel Turnbull and John Wilson in the fan letters, because they got it spot on.
We have a lot of moaners, but these two weren’t moaning. Instead, they were stating what everyone is thinking.
Over the next two games, things have to radically change for the better, as we’re steadily going down the league, instead of upwards where we should be. This decline has been caused by Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, Kristjaan Speakman, and Michael Beale.
How many head coaches are unemployed at the moment because any one of them would be better with us than the present?
I’ve watched Sunderland faithfully for seventy five years and seen it all- the good, the bad, and the useless, and I can honestly say that Beale is the worst. Dreyfus is blind if he can’t see the problem, and the fans will be turning against the three names mentioned.
I love this club and the players, so Dreyfus needs to do something before the tide turns against him.
Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Bill. Thank you for getting in touch.
There’s no doubt that the three figures you mentioned are all under pressure right now, and after recent events, that’s not surprising.
In terms of what they can do to rectify it, Michael Beale needs to oversee some improved results, Kristjaan Speakman needs to oversee some worthwhile transfer business during the remainder of the window, and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus needs to show that he’s in tune with the fans and that the mistakes of the past month have been learned from and won’t be repeated.
It’s a tricky situation for them, but for the good of the club, let’s hope that all three of them can turn things around and start to win back some goodwill from the supporters.