Ahead of Saturday's game at The Hawthorns, we spoke with Sunderland fan Joe. He gives us his views on Sam Allardyce, his team's start to the season, their prospects under 'Big Sam', and
more. You can follow Joe on Twitter @j_m_tilbury.

We have to start with the appointment of Sam Allardyce, how’s it been received by Sunderland fans in general and your personal thoughts on his arrival?

Allardyce has been warmly received by Sunderland fans for sure. With our previous few managers (Di Canio, Poyet, Advocaat) it has been hard to get fully excited by because they hadn’t managed in the Premier League before and you couldn't be sure they would able to cut it at this level. With Allardyce, you know what you’re going to get; his methods might not be the easiest on the eye, but they’ve been proven to get results for years now and at the moment that’s all I, and Sunderland fans, are really bothered about.

Were there any other names mentioned who you would have liked to have seen given the role?

Allardyce was the obvious choice amongst a poor list, but if he hadn’t taken the job, I would have liked to have seen Sean Dyche take it. He impressed me last season with his attitude and the way he motivated his players last season, however he seems to be in for the long haul with Burnley. Realistically we were never going to get Brendan Rodgers so soon after leaving Liverpool and the other main candidates, Nigel Pearson and Bob Bradley would have all but sealed our relegation.

I think it’s fair to say that Sunderland have been struggling now for a couple of seasons – any particular reasons why? How can it be turned around?

We’re currently in a much better position than we have been in previous seasons. We have a man in charge with Premier League experience, who is actually the Manager and not the Head Coach. This all but ends the farcical Director of Football experiment, which has seen us make some of the worst signings in recent times. Allardyce will be able to choose and buy his own players, which is more than Di Canio, Poyet or Advocaat had, and should give us a fighting chance of improving on our poor recent seasons.    

How have performances been this season? Is your league placing a fair reflection of the performances?

I would say we definitely deserve to be in and around the bottom of the league, because the performances in the Leicester, Norwich and Bournemouth games were as bad as it gets. However we should definitely have taken more points from the games against Spurs and West Ham, and on other days could have won both of those games. 

Has any player stood out so far?

It’s been a poor start to the season to say the least, and the only player to come out of it with any real credibility has been Yann M’Vila. He has been brilliant, with the vision, tackling and calmness on the ball of a player of the best sides in the division. Had he not come by the Russian Premier League, I doubt he would have come to the likes of us at all. He’s the only player who has shown any level of consistency.

Similarly, has anyone been particularly disappointing?

Younes Kaboul definitely falls into the category of ‘worst signings in recent times’. He has been a total liability in defence. We all thought he’d turned a corner with a half decent performance against Spurs, he gave arguably his worst against Bournemouth the week after where he was at fault for Wilson’s opener and was sent off for two needless yellow cards. You need to question what Lee Congerton saw in him to bring him to the club. Patrick van Aanholt has also offered nothing in defence for a left back and has spent the season so far being constantly caught out of position. He was dropped for the first time in the last game against West Ham and I can’t see him getting back in the team. Lee Cattermole had a shocking start to the season, giving away two penalties against Leicester and Aston Villa but after a spell on the sidelines has come back into the team and looked much improved. Other players such as Steven Fletcher and Billy Jones had also had poor starts to the season but were much improved against West Ham so could still yet come good.

Prediction for Sunderland’s season, can Allardyce turn it around?

I think there is definitely enough quality in the squad going forward, and hopefully under Allardyce’s stewardship we can tighten up at the back. With the addition of another younger, leader at centre back we should be alright, although it will be another tough season. I’d expect us to finish around 15th, but after the start of the season I’d take that.

Prediction for Albion’s season?

I think Albion will finish in the top of the bottom half. I was impressed by the signing of Rondon, and I think once he settles in, he will turn out to be a good signing. I am also a huge fan of Jonny Evans and wish we’d signed him. If we did, I don’t think we’d be having the defensive problems we’ve been experiencing. Pulls is a similar manager to Allardyce, unspectacular but solid so I can’t see you struggling much. I think you will end up around 12th.

Premier League champions?

Although Manchester City’s form has been somewhat indifferent over the opening games of the season, they have the quality and strength in depth to maintain a title challenge.


I’m not going to predict us to go down, so my three are Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Newcastle. It was always questionable whether Bournemouth would stay up, and the loss of the likes of Wilson, Mings and Gradel might be too much for them over the course of the season. Villa have lost some huge players for them in Benteke, Delph and Vlaar and I don’t think that the players that they've brought in are of the same standard. Newcastle just seem to have problems all over the pitch, and with the loss of Krul I can’t see three worse teams than them.

What line-up and tactics can we expect to see from Sunderland on Saturday?

With the new manager coming in, it’s hard to say what formation and tactics Allardyce might employ on Saturday, but I can’t see the line up being too much different in terms of personnel from the West Ham game, allowing for the suspended Coates and Lens. 

Prediction and thoughts on the game?

I think it will be a tight game with only a couple of goals if any. I’m not expecting miracles in Allardyce’s first game, so I’ll go for a 1-1 draw.


 © www.albiontillwedie.co.uk unless otherwise stated