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Fan Letters: “Are people patient enough to let the model do its thing and continue to work?”

RR reader Ian wonders whether the collective patience of the fanbase is strong enough to allow Sunderland’s ‘model’ to thrive. What do you think? Email us your thoughts:

Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I really enjoyed listening to the considered and sensible responses you gave to the various questions on the latest podcast, and I agree with most of what you said. The message that came out loud and clear, and subsequently the problem we have, is that we, the fans, need to have patience to allow the model to be successful.

You rightly said that the younger players need to build up their minutes in the team (as Dan Neil has done) to give them the best opportunity to fulfill their potential.

With that, will come games when they will make mistakes which will be the difference between winning and losing (Aouchiche at Ipswich). You also correctly said that the model will require players to be sold at a profit to allow reinvestment within the team resulting in better quality additions. This will mean players the fans have become attached to having to be sold.

I might be wrong (and I hope I am), but I’m not sure the majority of Sunderland fans have that patience. You only need to look at the total meltdown on social media when there are a few bad results, and with the current feeling towards Beale, I feel that the atmosphere will grow toxic in the Stadium if that happens.

Like I said, I hope I’m wrong.

Ian Hack

Ed’s Note [Gav]: Hi Ian. First off — thanks for listening to the show, I’m glad some of our babble managed to resonate with you!

I wouldn’t pay much mind to what gets said on social media, to be honest. I think the majority of supporters can see what the club are trying to achieve on the footballing side and would probably agree that in the main they’ve had more successes and failures, and that the team is in a better place now than it was three years ago.

I think if you asked anyone if they think we are capable of promotion this season they’d concede probably not, but that next year — when the league should be weaker with a lower calibre of team set to drop down from the top flight — that we will be in a fantastic position to challenge for a top four place, with a squad that’s more experienced and developing very quickly.

That’s when I think the real pressure will be on for us to succeed, as we’d then be four years into a five year plan to get back to the Premier League, with a huge opportunity to do it given the quality of the teams who will be up there competing with us.

Is Beale that man? I’m not so sure... but we’re going to find out. Even in the midst of all the noise online the club have just cracked on and got on with it, so we’ll see. If he isn’t then they’ll line someone else up who hopefully is the man to get us out of this division.

Sunderland v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Here we go again, the keyboard warriors thinking they know what is going on at the club.

Some complain that Pritchard was told he could leave in the summer, and the club didn’t want to offer him a new contract. Ohhh, what short memories these people have. Mowbray said that they were allowing Pritchard to leave due to personal reasons. I, like others, have no idea why he never left, and I won’t speculate.

There are comments that the club released the info about Pritchard not being in the team on Saturday just before the kick-off, saying it was a ridiculous time to do it. I don’t know when Pritchard stated he wasn’t available for selection, etc. Do these people not think that it was done to stop the fans from asking why he wasn’t in the team when the team sheet was released? If the club hadn’t posted the details, then this would have been seen, by some of the supporters, as a Beale decision, and even more pressure would have been on him, which could have resulted in even more demands for his head had we gone a goal down. This way, the club was letting the fans know Pritchard wasn’t in the team because he didn’t want to be.

I am sick of reading we shouldn’t have got rid of Baath, and Speakman is useless for letting him go. Mowbray was the one who wouldn’t play him as he said he couldn’t carry the ball out of defence, and he preferred O’Nien at centre half because he could do what was required for the way Mowbray wanted to play.

Peter Welsh

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I was reading up on the Pritchard events of the weekend on the net and was amazed by the messages from fans of his former clubs. Things like “up to his old tricks again” , “a bad apple”, “ causes dressing room unrest” etc etc. It made me wonder.

As you know we played some good stuff last season and Pritch played a big role in that. At the end of the season he said he wanted to leave “for personal reasons” but no club came in for him. I wonder if this was a problem for him with his (according to previous team’s fans) self-inflated ego.

I wonder if his unrest built up over the season and started to affect team morale?

I’d need to check but I think he missed the start of the season due to injury, He certainly didn’t start the 5-0 Southampton game which was the last time we saw a last season type performance. Since then he’s slowly worked his way back into the side but that has coincided with the team playing with little heart and the without the smile and swagger. I could imagine Pritchard telling the other players how good he was and how bad they were and that would cause unrest. Tony Mowbray said Pritch always questioned his tactics and was an abrasive character.

Then on Saturday the news broke and he wasn’t going to play again and hey presto the team plays with a smile and a swagger. Was it because they knew he had gone and the mood in the dressing room had changed? I may be reading too much into this but would welcome your view.

John Briggs

Ed’s Note [Gav]: We have only had one side of the story on Pritchard (as of the time of writing) but if he did indeed refuse to play at the weekend, I have lost all respect for him regardless of his motivations for doing so.

Pritchard is a good player and has definitely contributed this season, but not enough to warrant giving him exactly what he wants, which I presume is a long term deal. He’d have been fine for the rest of this season, but beyond that I’d rather the club prioritises the development of players like Chris Rigg and Abdoullah Ba, as opposed to someone who is never going to improve and, given his age, is more likely to decline in fitness and ability.

That’s not a slight on Pritchard, that’s just the way it is. And if Birmingham are giving him a long-term deal on better money then good luck to him, he’s got what he wanted in the end and we move on.

I don’t think he will have been a negative presence about the place necessarily, but without being there I couldn’t say for certain. I remember Mowbray making a joke once about him being opinionated, so if he’s not been happy I’m sure he won’t have been shy in making his mouth go, but generally over the two years he’s been at the club I think he’s more than likely been a good influence on the other players. I know he enjoyed a good relationship with Clarke and Roberts, who are also important for us.

Yet, I can’t ignore what happened to him at Huddersfield (and to a lesser extent, Norwich). There does seem to be some sort of pattern of him leaving clubs under a cloud. But generally speaking, I can’t think he’s been anything other than totally professional up until the moment he refused to play for us against Stoke.

It’s a shame it’s ended this way cos I quite like him as a player, but it is what it is.


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