Couldn’t in the end be bothered with another look at the Coventry relegation. Let us just savour Pete Sixsimith’s responses to the Bolton fan site Burnden Aces*.
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Burnden Aces: Steve Bruce became the first managerial casualty of the season when he was sacked in November. Did you agree with Sunderland’s decision to give him the axe?
I had supported him until 2 weeks before he went. When the axe came, it was entirely justified as Bruce had clearly run out of ideas, both as a tactician and as a motivator. The defeat at home to Wigan was the final straw for most Sunderland fans who wanted him to succeed, but who had lost faith in him. The owner moved quickly, sacked him and replaced him within 48 hours with an experienced and successful manager.
What changes has Martin O’Neill made to get the club into a better position than it was under Steve Bruce?
I think that the arrival of a new manager makes the players sit up and think. For some (O’Shea, Brown) it was the first sacking they had ever seen, while the likes of Gardner and Bardsley have worked with him before. He got some decent players organised and told them what to do and how to do it, as opposed to Bruce who appeared to just tell them to “go out and play well”.
What sort of impact has the loss of Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan had on the club in the last 18 months? Do you think Gyan will play for you again when he returns to England in the summer?
Bent has been a huge miss. He’s not a great player, but he is a great goalscorer. Bruce never recovered from losing him. Gyan is a good player, but never looked comfortable in his 12 months with us. He won’t be back next season.
What are your aims for next season? With Martin O’Neill in charge, do you think European qualification could be a realistic ambition?
For next season, we have to begin to stabilise the club. O’Neill will not have a bundle of money to spend, but he has shown that he can organise players well. We have to look for Europa League football in 2013-14, a mere 40 years after our only other sojourn across the Channel. Even Middlesbrough have had more European football than us. It goes without saying that if he could do the double over The Sports Shop Boys, he would be a folk hero to generations of Sunderland fans.
Bolton are currently involved in a relegation battle with Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Queens Park Rangers and Wigan Athletic. With Wolves already down, which two teams do you think will survive?
This is a tight one. I feel that Villa will go. I saw them last Saturday and they played with effort but no inspiration. They are in a downward spiral which is very difficult to get out of. Your win on Tuesday was a huge blow for them. Of the others, I would prefer QPR to go down, but suspect it will be you; sorry. Coyle has been found out as a manager, as a Burnley supporting chum of mine suggested he would. Your form this year has been awful.
Which player(s), from both Bolton and Sunderland, do you think have been the best for their respective clubs this season?
For us, Stephane Sessegnon has been excellent. As one of our academically challenged friends from the SDA said “Ah cannot believe he dissent gerra game for France”. The fact that he is from Benin may explain why. He is one of the most skillful players I have ever seen in a red and white striped shirt. For you, the terminally disappointing Reo-Coker may want to put one over his old manager. Bogdan has looked solid in goal. Wheater is awful.
Which player(s) do you see having the biggest impact on our game at the Stadium of Light?
Sessegnon and Bendtner for us; that means we will be scoring goals. We haven’t scored for the last four games which is not a great record. For you, I expect to see Bogdan having a blinder but still ending up on the losing side.
Finally, what do you think the final score will be come 5pm on Saturday evening?
I’m looking for a 2-0 win. We always seem to do well against you. Hopefully, you can win your game in hand and push the Villa down.
* Burnden Aces is at this link: http://www.burndenaces.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,7501