Even before last night’s heavy home defeat, Wolves seemed long gone. Sunderland desperately need to bounce back from a woeful display at Goodison. So what will happen on Saturday? We haven’t exactly covered ourselves in glory in recent encounters but surely this one must be won if we serious about a top 10 finish. Salut! Sunderland turned to two familiar characters, Andy and Jo Nicholls*, for this week’s ”Who are You?”. He’s a Wolfie – and has a big input at the http://www.molineuxmix.co.uk/ fan site – but is married to a lass from Silksworth and knows Sunderland well. Both think we’ll win …
Salut! Sunderland: If not yet buried, Wolves sadly look dead. Is a miracle still possible or are you resigned to your fate?
PLEASE NOTE THIS HAS BEEN WRITTEN BEFORE WOLVES GIVE THE MIGHTY ARSENAL A FOOTBALLING LESSON AND WIN 2–1 THUS REKINDLING MY NOW DIMINISHED HOPE OF STAYING UP BUT ONLY TO THEN FAIL ON THE LAST DAY AT WIGAN! Oh dear, a 3-0 defeat was not what Andy had in mind – ed … Water was turned into wine, but in this case I really am resigned to our fate. There have been too many false dawns this year – not sure if I can take another one – but football being football there will still be some twists and turns before the end of the season.
And if worst comes to worst, can you do a Newcastle and bounce straight back or is it looking like a longer haul?
If we get a decent manager and revamp the coaching staff then I feel that there is a real chance of us coming straight back up – however, the Fizzy Pop league is recognised as being one of if not the hardest league in the world to get out of. So we”ll just have to wait and see I suppose.
Where did Mick McCarthy go wrong, if you feel he did?
I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before but I’ve never been a fan of Mick’s tactical ability. It all went wrong for me at the end of last season when it was obvious that we were being found out in the tactics department. Mick struggled to change a game in mid flow. He appeared stubborn in terms of team selection (seeing to select his favourites) – not selecting round pegs for round holes. From the outside looking in, it seemed that there really was not a recognition that help on the coaching ground was needed – having the manager who is also the first team coach and assisted by his number 2 and a goalkeeping coach is not the way to run a PL team (IMHO).
Jo: will you be gently prodding Andy to take you to a few Premier games, ie involving Sunderland, assuming Wolves are in a different division next season?
I’ll prod and I’ll try – however Wolves will have extra games next season and it does depend if games clash. I’m sure that when we are at the Villa or even the Albion or when we’re up visiting that if I ask nicely (not that I have to mind) we’ll end up going as a family to see the lads. Remember that when we lived in Sunderland, Andy was a very regular visitor to Roker Park and then the Stadium of Light – deep down I know who he really supports!
And Andy: would you be receptive to such an approach?
See above really. Yes we’ll end up taking a few games in – not too many but a few! After all the second result that I look for and the second report that I read is always the Sunderland one.
The Premier has often seemed a league this season in which any team can beat any other on a given day. Wolves have had their fair share of such moments. How do you rationalise that when viewed against consistency of failure in routine matches?
Has it? Not where we are concerned. Sorry to say it but we are just not good enough. We have been found out this season or rather our ex manager had been found out. To still be playing with the majority of the same team that get us promoted 3 years ago is not good enough. The team had to develop and grow – we did not – we stagnated and that has been our failure and we are paying the price for that.
Jo: I know you have developed a soft spot for Wolves through marriage and routine, but how frustrating do you find it to be sitting there in one of their games wondering how your own Lads are getting on?
I enjoy my football – I haven’t been to too many games this season but I seem to get immersed in following the game that I’m watching so I don’t think too much about other games. My daughter, however, is attached to her phone so the scores are never too far away.
And Andy: what is she really like when taken into the away end at the Stadium of Light or taking her seat at Molineux when you play us?
She’s ok really. As Jo has just said – she seems to get lost in following the game – there’s not much banter and chatting during the actual play – but plenty of ‘discussion’ at half time and at the end of the game. The away end at the SoL seems to be the hardest for her to take, the main reason being that there are some idiots who really do like to abuse opposing supporters and it hurts us both when the chanting and abuse is being given out with regards to Sunderland and its people and I’ve got one of them sitting next to me. Last season I couldn’t hold back and the lad in front of me got both barrels – he got the message and shut up!
As long-term supporters – I avoid the word old or older – what do each of you still want to live to see happen in football?
Andy: Wolves to return to their former glory – I do believe that everything will eventually turn full circle and we will one day be one of the better teams in the land.
Jo: I’d love to be able to go to Wembley and see the Lads win the FA cup! Plus goal line technology and England to win the World Cup.
Which from of cheating most angers each of you and who is or are the worst culprits. Seb Larsson is not an acceptable answer!
After a bit of discussion we are both united on this – it’s the crowding of the ref and players and managers trying to ref the game. Only the captain should be allowed to approach the ref and all answering back etc should be punished – it would take a couple of weekends of carnage and the message would soon get through. As for the worst culprits then Mr Rooney and Mr Davies at Bolton take a bow!
Name this season’s top four in order and steel yourselves to say who is going down
Where will Sunderland finish?
We both agree on 9th! A good season as long as that lot up the road don’t make top 5!
One last question: are you coming up for the game, what sort of day is planned and what will be the score?
Well here’s a thing – this is the first Sunderland v Wolves or Wolves v Sunderland that no one from our family has attended in over 15 years! We do have a good excuse though – it is our daughter’s 18th birthday on the 14th so we have other (and we will say it) more important things planned. We are having quite a few friends round on the afternoon but that wont stop us keeping in touch with what is happening in the football.
As for the score – well as mentioned at the top of the article – after we have beaten Arsenal 2-1 tonight we will then go on a 4 game unbeaten run to then royally blow it on the last day of the season at Wigan! Wolves will beat Sunderland 1 – 0 and all will be rosy again!
Ok – I’ve just had my realism pill and in the cold light of day neither of us can see anything other than a Sunderland win. Andy 4 – 0 , Jo a more modest 2 – 1.
* Footnote: Can I, Andy, just wish all Sunderland fans, (Jo included – ed) the best for the future. I hope it wont be too long until we cross swords again and the great banter, camaraderie and respect that both sets of supporters seem to have for each other can be resumed. After all as a famous football manager once said, “Football is not just a matter of life and death – it’s much more important than that!” … unless it’s your daughters 18th birthday!. In sport …
** And Jo on Jo: I grew up in Silksworth – I went to St Anthony’s before moving to Newcastle Uni. I then moved to Edinburgh where I met Andy. We then moved around the country with work before moving back to Sunderland for a few years whilst Andy retrained as a teacher. I then got a job in the midlands which meant us upping sticks and moving back to wolverhampton. As for what I do – I work for one of the largest retail chains in their clothing head office. Oh and my name is Jo!
Interview: Colin Randall