Bolton Wanderers vs SAFC: their turn to ask the questions

You can get this book, co-written by Tom Purcell and our Bolton ‘Who are You?’ interviewee Michael Gething at the Salut! Sunderland Amazon link here. Copies are offered for anything between 1p and a somewhat ambitious £180.69

Scroll down for a Bolton Q+A session – Gabe John from the Burnden Aces fan site seeking answers from Monsieur Salut – ahead of tonight’s game. But first a little history about our long-running feature in which opposing supporters talk about forthcoming games against Sunderland and anything else that takes their fancy …

Salut! Sunderland‘s “Who are You? series drew its first breath 10 years ago.

The site was a year old and constantly on the look-out for new features. Interviewing fans of Sunderland’s next opponents ahead of each game was hardly an original idea but we did come up with one refinement: they were invited to write pieces of their own, with questions following.

The first Who are You? – we called it “Who are They?” back then, in January 2008 – was from a Spurs fan ( a pal of mine, David Sapsted) – and the series instantly became a regular, in time changing to a purely Q+A format though interviewees who want to write articles are welcome to do so.

Sometimes the tables are turned and we are asked to respond to questions put by the other clubs’ fan sites. I usually pass these to Pete Sixsmith since he endures sees so many more games than most of the rest of us who write for Salut! Sunderland (there are honourable exceptions, including Wrinkly Pete, Ken Gambles and the home-and-away masochist Bob Chapman).

Sixer couldn’t oblige Burnden Aces, the Bolton site that wanted our thoughts – he was on his way to watch The Shape of Water in Richmond – so Monsieur Salut did his best to come up with replies suggesting he might know something about the plight of our club and the prospects for tonight.

The Burnden Aces feature appears here (click anywhere on this sentence. Here, though are the questions and answers:

Q: Tuesday’s game is massive. A win for either team would be hugely significant and it is one neither can afford to lose. What will the Sunderland camp be like ahead of kick-off?

A: We don’t seem mentally ready for any game. Even our rare wins have mostly been thoroughly nervous affairs.

We collapse easily, ship more first-half goals than anyone in the division and, with the exception of the second-half fightback from 3-0 down to 3-3 at Bristol City and I suppose coming twice from behind against you, we haven’t the guile or strength to recover.

Both teams will be heading into Tuesday’s game on the back of 2-0 losses at the weekend. What do you expect from the affair – will it be a scrappy encounter, or do you see the game opening up and both teams going for it?

I fully expect Bolton to mount early pressure, knowing of our wretched defensive frailties.

It will then be a matter of whether we can, for once, stand firm until we collectively remember it’s meant to be a competitive game and offer some sort of counter-offensive.

The last meeting of these sides was an entertaining 3-3 thriller at the Stadium of Light back in October. From that night, what did you make of Wanderers on the day and, in the long run, where do you see both ourselves and Sunderland finishing come end of May?

I had to follow it from afar. I naturally assumed we’d go on from 2-1 and win but, as mentioned above, you led twice so that clearly betrays an excess of confidence.

It’s still close among the strugglers so either of us could just about get out of it and, equally, either of us could go down. We both seem certainties for bottom six or seven.

Looking forward to Tuesday, who would you pick out at Sunderland’s biggest threat and, vice-versa, which Bolton player are you most worried about?

Joel Asoro and, if he plays, Josh Maja have youth, pace and a bit of spark up front; they put older squad members to shame. But both are raw and a lot is being asked of them.

Will Buckley has hardly set the place on fire for you any more than he did for us, so will doubtless benefit from your injuries and suspensions to get a game and score against us.

Finally, how do you see Tuesday’s match panning out? Will Wanderers take all three points or will Sunderland pick up a vital away win?

I’d be lying if I claimed any sense of confidence, which is also one of the commodities lacking in our squad.

Chris Coleman may be wondering what possessed him to take over such a basket case of a club with an absent owner who wants to sell but cannot find a buyer, which is hardly surprising given the way the club has been allowed to drift towards a second successive relegation.

The best I can see for us is a draw, by no means enough in our current predicament.


Still time – and available scorelines – to have a go at the prize Guess the Score. Click Jake’s image to enter

I naturally hope to be proved wrong in my prediction and to be quietly celebrating a Sunderland win come 10pm-ish tonight.

Ha’way the Lads.

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake
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