Sunderland defender Jordan Willis has addressed the issue of social media criticism and his reasons for joining the ambitious Black Cats as reported by the Sunderland Echo.
Willis arrived at the Stadium of Light from League One rivals Coventry City in the summer and explained that although the decision was a ‘tough’ one, it was the size and ambition of the Wearside outfit that won him over, he said: ‘The drive is there to get the club back to where it belongs.’
‘It’s not just there in our group or the staff here, the fans have that ambition too, and you can feel it.’
‘If you look at the stadium and the number of fans we get home and away, it is a special club to play for.’
Sunderland are favourites to win promotion and have won three and drawn two of their opening six matches, but the players came in for criticism following the lacklustre 3-0 defeat at promotion rivals Peterborough United last time out.
Sunderland fans are desperate for a return to the Championship, and this expectation can often boil over into harsh opinions expressed on social media after such a disappointing result. However, Willis did not avoid the issue, explaining the players were well aware of the criticism and that they should use it to motivate them further: ‘When it is there on Twitter, and you’re scrolling through you do see what the fans are saying, but the ambition for this club and the expectation is massive.’
‘We have to thrive upon that and make sure that drives us on. You can’t read into things and shy away from the fact that we want to get promoted this year.’
He added, ‘You have to take everything on board and reply on the pitch in the right way. That is all you can do.’
After an enforced lay-off due to the international break, the Black Cats are back in action at the weekend when they travel to Lancashire to take on Accrington Stanley who’ve only managed five points from their opening six fixtures.
Social media criticism can be brutal, and Willis is right that the only way of shutting it up is to get results on the pitch.
Every club has its issues with a frenzied activity of negativity on platforms after poor results, but the size and expectation of the Sunderland fan base appear at times to make it more pronounced.
Willis has made a decent start to his Sunderland career, and his view on the issue his the right one to take.
Sunderland fans expect nothing short of promotion this season, and this will be the only thing that keeps many fans quiet and ease the pressure.