You’ve seen the West Ham Who are You?; now see what we told them.
And not just us. Pete Sixsmith readily supplied the nitty gritty on all things Sunderland. But in the panic to locate a warm, witty or wise SAFC supporter in time – Salut! Sunderland knows that panic – the fan site WestHamOnline found that, like hailable London taxis driven by Hammers fans, they come alomg not at all or in pairs.
Step forward Stuart Mangan – you can follow him on Twitter @FlamesYall – as the younger version of Pete (is it right Stu’s dad went to school with him?)
Over to them:
Q: How disappointing has this season been for Sunderland?
Stuart: Like any football supporter, if you aren’t Barcelona, you’re disappointed. And I’m sure that even the Barca fans are disappointed at times.
We always have wonderfully high hopes for Sunderland, as we have such a tremendous amount of promise and belief with our squad and our set up. I believe this is where the frustration (maybe not disappointment) derives from.
Results wise, the disappointments would be: failing to beat Swansea, Stoke, Newc**tle, Villa, QPR, Norwich… I’m convinced that if the Reading game (2nd game of the season, first at home, after a 0-0 draw at The Emirates, which we will have won) hadn’t have been called off, we would have seen far better results against the aforementioned teams.
But still, we beat Man City 1-0. Again.
I’ve always been a believer that the second half of the season is the half that counts. Many teams struggle to keep their form going from Jan to July, but I’m sure we’ll find ours, with some January signings (N’Diaye, Messi, Ronaldo, Best, Cryuff, Eusebio, Mangan…) and push for a top ten finish.
Pete: It has been a disappointment. After a decent start, we have shown proper form in flashes. For every excellent team performance against the likes of Manchester City, there has been a turgid display against the likes of QPR. We hoped for more, especially with the two major signings we made in the last window. But, as Sunderland supporters, we are used to disappointment.
Is Martin O’Neill still the right man for the job or are you not going backward?
Stuart: Yes. Yes he is. He is a great leader.
I, and I’m sure that the vast majority of Sunderland fans have complete faith in MoN.
He will get the best out of the players he inherited, shift the ones who won’t take us forward, and bring in ones that will. It’s all about patience. and building.
A rarity in football, especially at Premiership level, is a team which sticks by their manager for a long enough period for them to make a significant difference.
I hope we do.
Peter: He is the right man for the job for the simple reason that I can’t see a club like ours getting anyone better. He has a proven track record and can get the best out of players. He will keep us ticking over, clear out the players he inherited from Steve Bruce and bring in the ones that he really wants over the next two windows.
What did you make of the 1-1 draw between the two sides earlier in the season?
Stuart: It was our 4th consecutive draw, We were winning 1-0… And every Sunderland fan in the known universe, and beyond, were quite convinced that in the dying seconds Kevin Nolan would score. And he did. And that’s what happens. And if it didn’t, football would have imploded and would never have existed. And then it would have evolved over hundreds of years. And Kevin Nolan’s descendants would continue to score against us in the dying seconds.
Peter: I thought it was a fair result, although we really should have been able to hang on. Kevin Nolan equalising did not go down very well in the visitors end. He is not loved and admired by Sunderland fans.
What areas of the team need strengthening in this transfer window? Will money be made available to get players in?
Stuart: The spine of the team. Central defence, midfield and striker.
Our central defenders are either rubbish (Bramble), unpredictable (Cuellar), old (O’Shea, Brown) or they’re Kilgallon (Kilgallon). A solid, huge leader would be nice.
A box to box, game controlling, string pulling, tough tackling, play making, goal scoring midfielder would be nice.
A partner for Fletcher, who will also score 15-20 goals per season would also be nice.
Our owner, Ellis Short, by the sounds of it, is invested in the team and will support any effort to move us forward. He will help buy the right players.
Peter: We do need to bring players in in January, but they have to be the right ones. Both Bruce and Keane splurged money in January and brought in the likes of Rada Prica and Sully Muntari, whose contribution to SAFC were minimal. The owner will back the manager but not to the extent of paying over the odds for average players.
Who has been your best and worst players this season?
Stuart: Best players have been Mignolet, Rose (head and shoulders above), Cattermole (When available) and Fletcher. Coming into form – Sessgnon, Johnson, Colback, Gardner. The rest are interchangeable. That said, Cuellar has made a few costly and dismal mistakes.
Peter: For best player, it’s a toss up between keeper Simon Mignolet and loanee Danny Rose. Both have done exceptionally well. Mignolet has developed into a very good all round keeper and should remain at the top for a number of years. Rose has impressed with his enthusiasm and energy and is a firm crowd favourite. Adam Johnson has not got going yet and is a disappointment so far – but we are hopeful.
What have you made of West Ham this season?
Stuart: They are definitely improving as the season goes on and the signing of Joe Cole is great. I’d happily have Cole in our team (See the below answer). I’m not really a fan of Sam Allardyce, but you guys have resolve, spirit, tenacity and fight. That’s a great combination.
Peter: West Ham have done exactly as I would have expected; mid table security and a more expansive game than last season. I can see a comfortable end to the season for you, although it may be a little dull – but I like a dull finish, it means there is no chance of relegation.
Which West Ham players would you like to have in the Sunderland team?
Stuart: Joe Cole.
Maybe Collins and Benayoun.To be fair, any of your players that work their backsides off for 95 minutes and show fight and commitment will do. Which is probably all of them, I’d imagine.
Peter: I like Diame, who had a tremendous game at the Boleyn Ground and I have a lot of time for James Collins. You have a good squad of players – although Chamakh will not add to it.
What (if anything) annoys you about West Ham?
Stuart: Kevin Nolan. Always has. If I see his ‘chicken wing’ celebration again, I may go uncontrollably insane. In fact, I’m angry just typing this!!!
That said, nothing irritates me about the club. West Ham are one of those ‘proper’ football clubs, with history and ‘Britishness’ deep rooted in their soul.
You have a proper football ground, surrounded by proper people and your fans are so fantastically passionate, that during matches, the players could probably lift their feet from the
ground and the sheer will and energy from the crowd would move them around the pitch.
I’m sure a lot of teams would love to have your support.
Peter: I don’t like the constant repetition of “I’m Forever etc, etc”, a terrible old music hall song which I hated as a kid in the 50s. Bubble machines? – well, that’s up to you, but it’s not for me. I always said if I ever had the misfortune to live in London, I would probably have chosen to watch West Ham.
What song best describes your season?
Stuart: Public Enemy ‘Brothers Gonna Work It Out’
Peter: Probably Talking Heads with “We’re On The Road To Nowhere” (or Middlesbrough) or it could be Heroes by David Bowie. Our Tyneside friends would have Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed by Show of Hands.
A 4th placed finish or a domestic cup victory?
Stuart: 4th place. It shows fight through an entire season, and progression. Plus it sets you up for the longer term (Players signing, revenue, status, etc).
I do love the magic of the cup though, so I’m not dismissing it.
Peter: Why not both? If Everton can aspire to it, there is no reason why a club like Sunderland shouldn’t. Mind you, I would like to celebrate another FA Cup win.
What question should we ask our next league opponents, Queens Park Rangers?
Stuart: I would ask… Does money really buy success? Is there any manager who can manage players who are at the club for the money?
Peter: How can you support a club that employs Joey Barton?
And finally, your prediction for the game.
Stuart: It’s at home and we’re finding our feet so I’m going to predict us winning by two goals, and all of my West Ham supporting mates have assured me that West Ham will destroy us!
Peter: 2-0 to us, with goals from Fletcher and Wickham. Enjoy the view from the Upper North Stand.