The Fanzines

I felt compelled to write a piece on the fanzines covering our club. I’m just a fan like you. My say is as valid as yours is. I genuinely believe most of the writers, podcasters and contributors to the fanzines think the same.

I struggle to see why they get so much criticism. I have read tweets from contributors to the fanzines, stating they welcome constructive criticism and that is going to be helpful for them to improve their content. However, some of the tweets I see are not constructive in nature, in some cases they are just abusive.

I have seen during my time using Twitter that some of the contributors are working towards a career in journalism.

The way I see it, it’s fantastic that these lads and lasses have the platform in which to speak to former players and members of the current Sunderland set up. I’ve seen that two of the lads who I’ve enjoyed engaging with on Twitter have gone on to work for the club, and the other is working for a local media outlet. It’s great that they can do this in the north east of England. Also, there are many other contributors who do it solely because of their love for the club and to engage with fans on their opinions.

I don’t always agree with their opinions, but I don’t go onto Twitter to give them personal abuse because of this difference of opinions. Their content is usually really interesting and gets you thinking about the club. This can range from new signings, to ticket allocations, to reminiscing about games from back in the day.

I’ve never seen them state that they speak for all fans, which is part of the criticism I have seen levelled at them over recent weeks. I don’t actually know any of the contributors to the fanzines, other than the Twitter conversations we sometimes have, but I personally thank them for the work they do bringing us the podcasts, articles and appearances at the fan zones. It costs nothing to us as fans and supporting the club would be a lot less fun if they didn’t do what they do.

Enjoy the content these fanzines produce, or if not, try to be constructive in your criticism.

Sunderland…. it’s a tough place to play

Ah…. Sunderland it’s a tough place to play. We’ve all heard it before, the myth, the legend. The absolute load of rubbish. It’s always rolled out by a player who got found out by the crowd, or the lazy pundit who has seen a few highlights from their comfy seat in the studio.

I want to go on record to say its probably one of the easiest places to play. We just ask for 100 per cent in every game they play. We don’t ask for anymore. If the quality isn’t there, that’s not their problem. It’s that of the recruitment team that brought them in.

Look at the recent games at the Stadium of Light. The fans have seen a side that has a game plan, adding fantastic work rate and we’ve really bought into that. We’ve fed off each other. It’s great to have that feeling of togetherness. The fans are frustrated that we’re in League One, but we know we can help the team achieve our end of season target of promotion.

Whilst I’m having a mini rant. I also give you ‘expectations’. The fans have high expectations. If you call not being happy playing our football in the third tier of English football, than yes we’ve got high expectations. It’s quite laughable really, isn’t it?

When you’re at a big football club like ours, there will be a certain amount of pressure that comes with it. Any player would surely relish this and look forward to the challenge and adulation that success brings. I attended a talk in with Peter Reid and Kevin Phillips late last year. They said to play for Sunderland you need ‘big bollocks’. I agree wholeheartedly, however this only involves giving 100 per cent, showing for the ball, getting stuck in and not hiding away when things aren’t going to plan.

So Jack Rodwell doesn’t find it an easy place to play, because he has a heart the size of a pea and he was found out in no time at all. Someone like Lee Camp doesn’t find it an easy place to play here because even when you watched him in the warm up, he never looked prepared to give everything he had, even though it was obvious he wasn’t good enough to wear the shirt.

Take a look at some of the players the fans have taken to their hearts over the years I’ve been a Sunderland supporter. John Kay, Kevin Ball, Lee Cattermole and Luke O’Nien, to name but a few. They have differing levels of ability, but ‘big bollocks’ as Reid and Phillips so aptly described it.

So please don’t give me the hard place to play narrative. They’ve got high expectations up there sob story. Get your head down, work hard and engage with the area. You’ll become a legend at this club simply by adding quality to what we ask as minimum requirements.

Short term pain. Long term gain.

I don’t currently know what to think, it’s a strange time for us Sunderland fans. I want us to win every game we play, however I’m aware that a win buys the manager more time in the job. I can’t see the owner spending money in the transfer window and perhaps that’s a good thing. I like things straightforward. You have a committed and financially strong owner in place. There’s a manager who has the backing of the players and fans, then you can move on together with the common target of promotion.

That’s not the case currently at our club.

It seems that we may have to accept another season in League One. Stewart Donald is trying to find a buyer, but how long is that going to take. I always felt that the finances were not in place to do what is necessary during the January transfer window. The for sale sign at the club gives the current owner less of an inclination to provide any funds. Some may point to the departure of De Bock and imminent exit of McGeady as allowing potential for some incomings in this window.

I’m not sure if any money will be spent. I think we will need to make do with loans and potential free signings, where clubs may allow a player to be released early, when coming to the end of their contract in the summer. With the previous record of our current recruitment team, it’s going to be a lot to ask to make a minimum three or four successful signings, from the market we’ll be shopping in.

I think the short term pain of another season in this league may be what is required to enable time for a new owner to come into the club and assess the situation we find ourselves in. There must be a long term plan put in place when this happens. We can’t afford to stumble from one poor short term decision to another. In my humble opinion, when a new owner is in place, they need to speak to a person who knows the club and what it takes to be successful at Sunderland.

The first name that comes to mind for me, would be Kevin Ball. There are a number of other people who would also be adept in this area. The new owner could then look to bring in a manager who would galvanise the players and the fans to believe that we can get out of this league, and ultimately stabilise the club in the Premier League, in the long term.

I read from some fans that the manager’s job at Sunderland is not at all desirable and that we as fans are somehow demanding and have high expectations. I think most football fans would agree that believing we shouldn’t be playing our football in League One, is fair enough indeed. We expect 100% effort from our players in every game, but for me we also need to improve the quality of the squad in certain areas, to see us move up into the Championship.

So in short, this season may possibly end up in mid table obscurity, which is utterly unacceptable for this football club. However, if Donald could find a buyer in that time, with the right resources, it may possibly be a price worth paying.