Ahead of Saturday's game at the Stadium of
Light, we spoke with Black Cats' fan Michael from the Sunderland blog
We Are Wearside.
He gives us his
views on his club's struggles this season, their survival chances,
Sam Allardyce, and more. You can follow the blog on twitter @WeAreWearside.
It's been another disappointing season at the Stadium
of Light, where has it all gone wrong?
We started off with yet another manager who gave us a lot of hope last season
and then failed to deliver in this one. Our signings were poor, our pre-season
preparations inadequate, and there are people at the top of the club (Ellis
Short and Margaret Byrne) who don't know the first thing about football. At
times it's seemed like our players are just turning up for their pay packet too.
Going back to October, was Sam Allardyce the right man for the job? How did
react to his appointment?
Fans' reaction at the time was mixed. Some said he was a dinosaur, while others
backed him. Some thought Dick Advocaat should have been given more time, or more
support by the club's hierarchy. Personally, I thought he was the right man to
save us, and I think that if he keeps us up and he's given sufficient resources
next season, he can pull us out of this dreadful cycle of relegation scraps
Will Allardyce keep you in the Premier League?
It's a hesitant yes from me. I'd be a lot more confident if Steve McClaren was
still in charge up the road, or if we were capable of keeping clean sheets, but
I think Allardyce has enough about him to get us limping over the line. He knows
the rigours of the Premier League, and I think in a straight fight between us,
Newcastle, and Norwich, we have the best chance of coming out with the most
If the worst comes to the worst and you do go down, do you expect him to stay
and would you want him to stay?
If we do go down, I don't think there's a better manager for that level and the
club has to do everything in its power to get him to stay on. Paper talk a few
months ago claimed that he'd walk if and when our relegation became inevitable,
but he has experience of getting teams out of the Championship and I think Ellis
Short would be able to persuade him to stay on if he was having second thoughts.
Highlight of the season?
The 3-0 home win against
without a doubt. This season's had precious few highlights, but that game stands
out a mile. My second choice would be the recent 2-1 win over Manchester United,
where Allardyce finally had us playing like a team for once.
Low point of the season?
Tactfully restricting myself to on-field events, early defeats to Bournemouth
and Norwich where the players just didn't seem interested. The 6-2 loss to
Everton was dreadful, and the 6-3 win against Exeter in the League Cup was
embarrassing to watch for the first hour.
Black Cats' player of the season?
Jermain Defoe is the obvious choice. He's scored some crucial goals, and if we
stay up he'll deserve a lot of the plaudits. Vito Mannone has also impressed -
we'd be in a significantly worse position if it wasn't for his performance
between the posts - and January signing Lamine Kone deserves a mention. He's not
been here long, but he's already winning fans over with his ferocity and sheer
force of presence in our defence.
Anyone been particularly disappointing?
How long have you got? Ola Toivonen made a bright start but has been exposed as
slow and plodding. Adam Matthews was signed amidst a lot of hype in the summer
but has made one sub appearance so far. Sebastian Larsson has seriously
struggled for form, and John O'Shea has been consistently slow and prone to
making costly mistakes.
How are Sunderland likely to line-up on Saturday?
Mannone; Yedlin, Kone, O'Shea, van Aanholt; M'Vila, Kirchhoff, Rodwell; Borini,
Defoe, Khazri. If Kaboul is passed fit, he'll likely play instead of O'Shea, and
Allardyce might play Cattermole instead of Rodwell or N'Doye instead of Borini,
but that's the team I'd go for.
Thoughts on the game and prediction?
It's a game that we have to win, especially considering Newcastle play Norwich
the same day, and I think Allardyce will impress that on the players. I can see
Pulis setting up very defensively, and it's up to us to attack and break down
Albion's back line. We've been playing well in the past couple of months, but
there always seems to be a mistake or two in the team. I'm going to go for a
somewhat optimistic 2-1 home win, low on quality but high in determination.