Wrinkly Pete on Sunderland’s crisis: ‘an element of fans could drive me away’

Wrinkly Pete: ‘the attitude of some worries me’

Monsieur Salut writes: there are views that are unpopular to hold in Sunderland and the SAFC-supporting catchment area that stretches throughout County Durham and beyond. One such view, as a mostly disappointing start to the season under Jack Ross is followed by a mostly woeful spell in new hands, is that we must be patient, maintain our loyal support and avoid the sort of collective negativity that unsettles the very players we want to perform better.

After the alarming defeat to Burton Albion, prolonging a calamitous opening (5-0 vs Tranmere apart) for Phil Parkinson, Peter Lynn, aka Wrinkly Pete, wanted to get this off his chest …

Be careful what you wish for

“You’re getting sacked in the morning,” sang a sizeable number of our fans at the end of last night’s disappointing defeat to Burton Albion. Minutes earlier those same people were giving huge positive support to the team as they drove (mainly) forward striving for an equalising goal.

There was massive booing at the end of the game despite several players – eg Watmore, O’Nien, Hume – who had given their all and were more deserving of an ovation as they left the pitch.

This “black and white” (oops, unintended pun!) attitude by some fans really troubles me and is in danger of making our home ground – which should, last night with 26,000 raucous Mackems inside, have been worth a one goal start – a massive millstone around each player’s neck.

I adore Sunderland folk. My mother was born and brought up in Roker and had, like most of her friends and family, a wonderful capacity to see good in most things in life, despite living through two world wars and the Great Depression.

I thoroughly enjoy being in the company of Sunderland people at our games, home and away. Yet there is a growing element of ‘fans’ who will drive me, and others, away. They are the ones who see it as their right to stand at away games without thought for those behind them who may not wish or even be able to stand; the ones who shout obscenities at our own players for one misplaced pass; and yes, the ones who boo – last night at the half time whistle with the score 1-1 for goodness sake!

I imagine they see it as their right – “I’ve paid my money, I’ll do what I want” – but I have rights too, and one of those is to watch my team given every possible help to perform to its potential and that is not going to happen in a poisonous atmosphere at our magnificent home.

Over recent years I have personally witnessed our players negatively influenced by comments made in the stadium, including Daryl Murphy, Dean Whitehead, George Honeyman and even the current England captain, Jordan Henderson.

Our players, even if well paid, are human beings with the same capacity to respond to praise or criticism as each of us spectators. We, the supporters, have it in our power to encourage or discourage by our actions. Make your contribution one that allows you to proudly sing I’m Sunderland ‘til I die.

As readers know, we have been unable to publish comments for some weeks and this seems likely to remain unresolved as we wind down the site (which will remain visible until the hosting period, already paid for, expires).

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One early comment we were able to see, but not publish, was from George Giles: ‘It is getting much much harder to keep the faith. I have kept faith for 70 years but I have to say it is wearing very thin of late’

And from Mexico, Phil Davison wrote: ‘Wrinkly Pete, I couldn’t agree more, with regards not having a go at the Sunderland team on the pitch.

Booing doesn’t help the players, who play for the team we all support and want to do well. Support should be encouraging and aimed to improve the situation for the players and management.

Malcom made a similar point in his report of the Burton match.

I have, to the best of my memory, never booed a Sunderland player or a Sunderland team. Certainly not since I was an adult’

Let Wrinkly Pete take up his story again:

Now to the subject of our manager.

It is possible that among those calling for the sacking of Phil Parkinson are people who contributed towards the dismissal of Jack Ross. Personally, I think Ross should have been given more time to improve results. However, my team is now being managed by Parkinson and he deserves the chance to improve results.

We have had an average of a manager each of the past 13 years. It simply doesn’t work as a positive strategy in any business and has been spectacularly unsuccessful in our own club’s experience. It is impossible to believe that by worsening that average we will achieve success.

Those calling for Parkinson to be sacked are placing enormous pressure on the whole organisation, from the owners, who are already understandably distancing themselves from contact with fans due to vile social media posts; to the manager who is trying to get the best out of the squad he has inherited; to the players who are having to adapt to yet another management style; and finally the Academy players who must be questioning whether they really want to aspire to perform in such a negative atmosphere.

I respect freedom of speech but please let it be constructive not destructive.

Keep the faith.

1 thought on “Wrinkly Pete on Sunderland’s crisis: ‘an element of fans could drive me away’”

  1. It is getting much much harder to keep the faith , I have kept faith for 70 years but I have to say it is wearing very thin of late

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