Sunderland’s prospects Observed: bring back Malone, Darius, Joe Bolton or Michael Gray


The Observer called yet again on the services of our own Pete Sixsmith for the Sunderland part of its Premier season preview. Here is Sixer’s assessment. He’s optimistic enough to suggest a top 10 finish but bemoans the lack of full-back stalwarts of the past …

The team have only been glimpsed through the curtains of the Hong Kong monsoon on TV.

We looked good against Spurs and decent against Manchester City but the emphasis appears to have been on team building and fitness. The signings are interesting; instead of scouring the relegated clubs, we’ve signed, among others, a current Italy international in Emanuele Giaccherini, the Dutch League’s top scorer, Jozy Altidore, and El-Hadji Ba, who has the shortest surname in our history. So, it could be a good season – or it could all go wrong. Who knows?

Key players: A mix of old and new: John O’Shea, Adam Johnson and Stéphane Sessègnon have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. We have a promising young English/Scottish/French forward called Mikael Mandron – and then there’s Connor Wickham, who really does need to show us why we spent £8m on him two years ago.

Weak links: We are desperately short of full-backs – as we have been for the last few seasons. Oh for the days of Chris Makin and Michael Gray and Cec Irwin and Len Ashurst.

Headline generator: The owner will be as quiet as a Missourian billionaire is expected to be and the players will play second fiddle to the headlines that our Italian manager makes. Reporters will be hanging on Di Canio’s every word.

If you could sign one player from the club’s past…
: At the moment, any one of Dick Malone, Joe Bolton, Michael Gray or Dariusz Kubicki. All full-backs. Failing that, it would be fascinating to see how Len Shackleton or Brian Clough got on with Di Canio.

Prediction 9th

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6 thoughts on “Sunderland’s prospects Observed: bring back Malone, Darius, Joe Bolton or Michael Gray”

  1. Ninth is perfectly feasible, as is 5th, or we could finish bottom. With a wad of new players largely unknown to us and a manager with a fiery temperament and untried at this level anything could happen. We know Di Canio lacks nothing in commitment and his work ethic is admirable, how he manages tactically is the unknown factor though. He’s a loose cannon, a tinderbox, a nutjob, and I for one can’t wait to watch him, and our new team, this coming season.

  2. No 15 year old goalkeepers this time, Keith. No manager, either in 64. The team was picked by the Board of Directors. I wonder if we could persuade Mike Ashley to follow that example. He’d have Cisse, Coloccini etc. on zero hours contracts.

  3. A season of consolidation, before pushing on. We need to establish a team able to stay then compete in premiership, we have never had that, the several relegation stand testemony to this. PDC has brought with him belief and a work ethic that we can all relate too, this has raised expectation, whether this is realistic remains to be seen, the players he has brought in are numerous and mostly unknown to me but I feel the excitment and buzz is gathering momentum and I have never been this excited at the start of a season since 1964

  4. Spot on Sobs marra. Today Jonathan Northcroft [Sunday Times] had us relegated. The Independent had us second bottom. Two weeks ago four out of five Sunday People football experts [LOL] had us down too.
    Wishful thinking on their [ignorant] part. Football punditry in the UK must be the worst around. If it aint Chelsea, Man U, Man C, Arsenal, Liverpool or Spurs they are not interested. Thick as pig s***e the majority of them. Anyone hear Trevor Francis on Sky before the Hong Kong game v. Spurs? Sad.

  5. I think we’ll catch a lot of people by surprise in the coming season, so I don’t think 9th is a ridiculous predicition

  6. 9th would be fantastic if only to shut Bruce up,” he” finished 10th apparently. In all honestly 9th is a bit optimistic in my view, as long as we play exciting football , don’t seriously flirt with relegation and have decent cup runs it will be a marked improvement .My prediction 15th-12 th .

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