Sunderland fans deliver verdict on Lee Johnson, Madrox and have this transfer message for new owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus: Big SAFC Survey results revealed

Sunderland fans have delivered their strong verdict on former owners Madrox, current head coach Lee Johnson and new chairman Kyril Louis-Dreyfus - with supporters urging investment in the squad this summer.

Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 4:45 pm

Sunderland are facing up to the reality of a fourth season in the third tier after their exit in the League One play-offs to Lincoln City.

A majority of fans have blamed last season's failings on Madrox and the former ownership structure and while fans remain divided over Lee Johnson it's clear they want to see investment in the squad this summer.

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Sunderland fans have been having their say in our Big SAFC Survey.

The Echo's Big SAFC Survey has been running online over the past week with 1,351 fans making their feelings clear.

And we can now bring you the first results from the survey.

It has been a turbulent couple of seasons on Wearside, with Louis-Dreyfus' takeover of the club - taking over as majority owner and chairman - finally confirmed in February of this year.

Sadly it could not inspire a promotion campaign, with Sunderland again falling short in the play-offs.

Sunderland fans inside of the Stadium of Light.

No surprise, perhaps, given that the club still has some significant earners and a wage bill massive for the level (£14,504,000 for the 2019/20 season).

Sustainability will be at the heart of the vision of the club moving forward. But a major revamp of the squad will naturally take place anyway after seven first team players were released as part of the retained list.

Here are the highlights from the first part of our survey.

Who is to blame for Sunderland's failings this season and what is the single biggest factor behind the failed promotion bid?

Fans were clear on this one, with 46.9% putting the blame firmly at the door of Madrox and former owners Stewart Donald, Charlie Methven and Juan Sartori, who all still retain a stake in the club.

The playing squad also 'won' 31.6% of the vote, with fans unhappy with their performances over the course of the season, at one stage Sunderland looked like they would get automatic promotion after all, only to fall short again and exit through the play-offs.

Phil Parkinson won 11.4% of the vote and Lee Johnson 9.2%.

When it came to the single biggest factor behind failed promotion bid, fans were more divided with the players landing 29.6% of the vote and a lack of investment last summer 23.3%.

Defensive injuries (17%) also played a major part with Jordan Willis, Bailey Wright, Tom Flanagan, Denver Hume and others all missing a sizeable chunk of the campaign.

How would you rate Johnson's start to life at Sunderland, his tactics and whether he has what it takes to guide SAFC to promotion next season?

From our survey, 45.7% rated Johnson's start to life at Sunderland as 'okay' with 29.8% rating it as good and 15.1% poor.

Fans were clear though when it came to Johnson's tactical approach at Sunderland, with 50.3% unhappy and claims he is too inconsistent when it comes to tactics.

28.2% said they were happy and wanted to see Sunderland remain on the front foot, with 21.5% unsure and needing to see more games before making a judgement.

We asked readers whether they had faith that Johnson was the right head coach to lead Sunderland to promotion next season?

In total, 43.7% said they were sure he was having seen enough good things since the turn of the year, with 29.8% unsure given how the campaign ended.

Just over a quarter, 26.4% didn't have faith that Johnson was the right man to lead the promotion bid next season.

We also asked supporters what they felt were Johnson's best - and worst - attributes - as manager.

His character and demeanour ranked highly with fans, winning 41% of the vote, with man management accounting for 23.4%.

When it came to his worst, the long winless run of seven games - which scuppered any hope of automatic promotion - topped the poll with 43% of the vote.

Tweaking team selection came second with 34%.

What should be the priority for Louis-Dreyfus & Co and how much needs to be spent?

Investment in the squad topped the poll with 71.6% of readers who completed our survey calling for more investment in the playing squad.

A fifth, 20.7%, also wanted to see improvements to the club's recruitment.

We asked fans whether they felt Sunderland would win promotion back to the Championship under the new ownership structure?

56.4% were confident as they had the financial power to do so, with 36% voting 'maybe' provided they got the key decisions right.

We also asked readers how much money they wanted to see spent this summer?

With the club remaining in League One again, recovering from the affects of the pandemic and no more parachute payments, money won't just be thrown around.

However, 71.8% of readers that completed our survey still felt £3m plus should be spent on improving the squad this summer.

With 23.2% suggesting between £1m and £3m would suffice to help provide a sustained promotion bid back to the Championship.

The other results from our Big SAFC Survey will run over the course of this week.

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