Jim White*, vice-chairman of the Swans Trust and the man behind www.scfc2.co.uk and https://twitter.com/swansinfo, is one of Salut! Sunderland‘s established friends. This is not his first visit to the Who are You? chair. But his thoughts are always fresh and always appreciated, even when – as now – he foresees the worst for us. Ahead of Swansea v Sunderland, Jim detects similarities between our clubs and is happy to declare a soft spot for SAFC. There’s some kiss and tell, too: he reveals why Mrs White No 1 is no longer Mrs White. And you can come back tomorrow to see what our own Pete Sixsmith told Jim’s site …
Salut! Sunderland: lots of people expected us to struggle again, fewer feared for Swansea. Was Huw Jenkins rash in getting rid of of Garry Monk and what on earth – or what else – has gone wrong?
Jim White: I don’t think any of us expected to see us fall from grace in the way that we have but I am afraid for whatever reason the players stopping playing for Garry and Huw Jenkins had little choice but make the changes he did.
I think it went a bit wrong off the pitch when new coaches were brought in who didn’t mix well with the current staff and that led to uncertainty on the pitch. The moment players get uncertain and unhappiness sets in then it’s a long road back and I am afraid that Garry couldn’t get the players back on side as he had wanted. It was a real shame to lose a club legend like Monk but I think we all felt that if he had stayed the drop would have continued to happen.
[leaving the question as posed before vents superseded it …- Ed] Poor Alan Curtis is caretaker yet again, I take it he won’t get the job. Or will he?
He was appointed yesterday [Jan 7] and so he will. Alan is a club legend and has done a lot in the last few weeks to get the players confidence up and so him and Dave Adams (who is a very good coach) will have the job of keeping the players focused and organised to help us climb the leagues! I wish them luck!
Which players are not pulling their weight or are simple not good enough and what do you most need in the window?
I don’t think it’s a case of picking one player specifically but just there had been a lack of effort and zip in the way in which we were playing and from 1-11 we looked poor in general before Monk was sacked. There are a number of fans who have never got over Wilfried Bony leaving and so have it in him for Bafe Gomis and his constant problems with being offside (I think he has been offside more than any other PL striker this year) but I actually think he is a decent striker and with the right service will score goals.
It’s no secret that to survive in the Premier League you need to score goals and we haven’t looked like doing that this year and so some extra resources up front and to provide for strikers is certainly something we are looking for in the window.
Has the return of Ki, fondly remembered by many at Sunderland, been a success?
Well last year he won our player of the year award and he was outstanding to be honest but he had a couple of injuries this year and has been a shadow of last season’s player.
We all love an in-form Ki and we all knew he was a good player (it was just Michael Laudrup who didn’t like him) but like many of the other players, this year he has been average at best! I hope he has a 2016 New Year Resolution to score 10 goals and I hope he gets most of them this season!
If the worst did come to the worst, how would you personally and the club collectively handle relegation just when you seemed you’d established yourselves in the Premier League?
If it happens then it happens and we have to deal with it. The money drop is obviously huge and that will be the key concern but the reality is that the best players will go and we will have to rebuild. We are lucky in that we have no debt as a club and so although the revenue loss will hit us hard, we will be able to manage it. It just goes to show you that no matter how far up the league you are (as Chelsea have also shown) if you don’t have a strong manager and an excellent team spirit then things fall away!
For the Swansea v Sunderland ‘Guess the Score’, go to https://safc.blog/2016/01/swansea-v-safc-guess-the-score-and-two-competitions-produced-one-winner/
If not dealt with in the previous question, would the part-ownership by the fans, via Swans Trust, be an important part of reviving the club’s fortunes and getting back up?
Yes for sure our ownership is important and what we will do as a trust is try to ensure (we don’t have a mandate to dictate but as the 2nd largest shareholder we certainly have a strong voice) we don’t put the future of the club at risk in the desire to get back up.
The football club has spent the most of its years outside of the Premier League and so if were not in there, ensuring we have a club is the most important thing! As Bolton are finding now, when you leave the Premier League you can go on a very long and very difficult financial journey if you don’t have certain covers and structures in place!
I don’t expect you were surprised to see our wretched first half to the season but can you put your finger on what goes wrong for us so consistently?
I have to say that I wasn’t surprised no. I like Sunderland as a club but it always seems to me that you buy players who have finished the best years of their career and are at Sunderland for one final pay day. That might seem a little unfair but its just a view I have.
I also feel you have changed manager after manager and that change process (new manager wants new players and new style of play) just can’t help get solidity and consistency on the pitch! You are such a big club that you should have the resources (from gates etc) to get great and hungry young players in to come and play for you! Get to midtable and the fans will be on side and then get a cup run going and you could go down as a club legend!
What are your other impressions on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the city & region, Big Sam?
Yes I have a lot of time for Sunderland as we have a lot of connections with players (John Cornforth was a favourite of mine growing up – he’s a Sunderland lad) and it is like Swansea in many ways being close to the sea and a working city. With regard to Big Sam, then when he joined you I thought it was ideal (knows how to keep teams in the PL) but I did wonder how his playing style would go down with fans. I think if he keeps you up then it will be one of his biggest achievements to be honest as you and Villa have been flirting with relegation for too many years now.
And remind us of your highs and lows as a Swansea supporter
The lows are too many to mention to be honest as I have spent 90 per cent of my time watching the club struggle in the lower leagues! The highs were two trips to Wembley seeing us pick up a trophy but the greatest high was getting updates to hear (I wasn’t able to make the first game due to Mrs White No 1 – hence why I am now on wife number 2 – – we had beaten Hull to survive in 2003 and stay in the Premier League! That was total elation I can tell you!
What about the greatest players you’ve seen or wish you’d seen in your colours?
I always wish that I had seen great Swansea legends like Ivor Allchurch but I was privileged to grow up watching the Swans when Robbie James and Alan Curtis were playing and they were geniuses wearing the shirt. I would love to have seen more of them but our fortunes then changed and we had some years in the doldrums.
Getting players like Leon Britton and Lee Trundle into the club in the early 2005-2010 years made me proud to be a Swans fan again and so those guys plus Wilf Bony (loved him from the moment he joined us) would be the greatest players for me!
We have had too many to mention but Aiden Newhouse would take some surpassing! Should have focused on another career and not football as he couldn’t play it.
Do you ever miss Vetch Field?
Yes, a lot of the time for the atmosphere it had and the feeling before and after the game but not for the facilities!
Name this season’s top four
Man City, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool
And the bottom three, sparing no feelings
Where will our clubs finish if not relegated?
Aston Villa, Sunderland (sorry) and Norwich – I think we will be 16th or 17th
Best ref/worst ref in the Premier?
I like Mark Clattenburg or Michael Oliver and think both are good. As for the worst then there are plenty of contenders but Mike Dean, Anthony Taylor and Bobby Madley are up there as three of the worst!
One step the authorities should take to improve the matchday experience of ordinary fans?
Define the dates and times of games when the season starts and stick with these even with TV. It could then allow fans to plan attendance at games with families etc. Having a word with transport/rail companies to ensure effective transportation is available both before and after games would also help!
Are we too far gone on diving and other forms of cheating for it to matter much any more. If not, how do we tackle them?
No, not at all. Get a panel of two ex-players and two ex-refs together to view the incidents that have been spotted/submitted by clubs/refs over the previous week and if it’s a clear case of a dive or cheating ensure the player gets a three-match ban firstly and then a five-match ban if he does it again. If he does it a 3rd time, allow the player to be banned for playing for a year and allow the club to suspend 50 per cent of his wages. I think we would stop players doing it then.
Will you be there and what will be the score?
I was due to be there when it was on Tuesday evening but I am in Glasgow on the Wednesday evening and so I will be listening in the airport on the way back! I would like to think we will beat you 2-1 but I actually think it will be 1-1 or even 0-0. I hope I am wrong!
* Jim White on himself: Yes, things still going well and I am still vice-chair of the Trust as well as owning www.scfc2.co.uk. Also, still loving life even if this season is challenging that somewhat! I still care about the club being part of the community and the picture above shows me (left) and our supporter director Huw Cooze presenting the Swansea Bravehearts (a disabled football team in Swansea) with a cheque for £2,700 to help them coach and teach kids of all disabilities to play football! Ensuring my club stays core to its community and fanbase is what drives me to do what I do!
Professional I run www.intouchcrm.co.uk, which offers social customer relationship and e-mail marketing and much more to help businesses grow.
Interview: Colin Randall