Monsieur Salut writes: At 15 Mark Bradley* is the youngest ‘Who are You?’ interviewee in the history of Salut! Sunderland. Although we take pride in the quality of this feature, it would not be hard to identify a few examples that showed considerably less maturity and vision than is evident from Mark’s replies.
Like us, he is under no illusion about the significance of Saturday’s game to both clubs and sets of supporters. Concentrating on SAFC, the season does not end if we lose; we are not safe if we win. But the need for three points is pressing, a second successive win that would make climbing out of danger seem less daunting a challenge. We should be grateful to have another struggling side as opponents after finally breaking our duck but, as we so often say, this is Sunderland and we shall see. We thank Mark for his willingness to take part in the discussion …
Salut! Sunderland:Good win at home to Southampton but you’d been on a run almost as bad as ours and seemed intent on a quick return to the Championship. What is going wrong and will it be put right?
Mark Bradley: I think we didn’t have enough confidence. Losing to Arsenal (1-4), Liverpool (5-1) and Chelsea (0-2) took its toll on the players and we subsequently were beaten by Bournemouth (6-1), Stoke (0-2) and Watford (1-0). Now that we’ve finally ended our winless streak against Southampton, hopefully we can kick on and make sure we’re a Premier League side by May.
Reports say you had the best of it at Watford but lost to an own goal. Bournemouth apart, is that the story of your season?
I’d like to blame a lot of our results on being unlucky but we haven’t been. The only real time I can think of from this season where we’ve been unfortunate in terms of losing a game is Man Utd and Watford. We held United until the 93rd minute, when Rashford smashed the ball in from six yards. We can’t blame being unlucky, we need to take full responsibility of our performances – some of which have been the worst I’ve seen since being a Hull supporter.
What on earth happened with Steve Bruce? You find yourself without the man who gets you back, he ends up at a fading Villa and you now have Mike Phelan in charge. Your assessment of these events and the impact on your club?
The Allams didn’t allow Steve Bruce to spend money during the summer of 2016 after we gained promotion. (They didn’t allow Nick Barmby to spend money while he was in charge). Instead, they gave Bruce a transfer budget of just £18 million, which is just under a fifth of what Man Utd payed for Paul Pogba. The Allams try to spend as little as possible and at one point we had nine fit professional players. I, like many other Hull City fans, don’t blame Steve Bruce for walking away whatsoever. I just wish him the best at Villa.
Your owner Assam Allam is an odd one – doesn’t much like football, just business and “the community”, has no time for football tradition and maybe doesn’t even want to go on owning the club. Is he good for Hull City or a liability?
Like I said in the previous question, the Allams try to spend as little as possible. Assem, the elder of the two, told the fans who were protesting saying “No To Hull Tigers” to die on the 1st December 2013. He’s tried to change the name of the club; drove the most successful manager in our history away (Bruce); sacked Hull City legend Nick Barmby; told the fans to die; paid for Astroturf in the Airco Arena which is located outside of the KCOM Stadium (plenty of other sports play in there so Astroturf wasn’t beneficial for them); changed the logo so the club had no identity; spent the £200,000 ASI money on the away concourse (it was supposed to be for Hull City fans only); there are plenty more reasons why nearly every Hull City fan despises him.
You still have a couple of ex-Sunderland players – Ahmed Elmohamady and David Meyler – at the club. How are they doing?
Elmohamady is a great player at right midfield or right wingback. However, due to the lack of players, he’s recently been playing at right back and he isn’t suited to that position. He is limited in going forward, and that’s one of his best attributes – at right back it’s simply going to waste.
Meyler is a player who will wear his heart on his sleeve and would literally do anything to win the ball back, he has great stamina and chases balls down like there is no tomorrow. However, his passing ability lets him down and he regularly misplaces simple passes which results in the opposing team winning back possession.
Let’s not beat about the bush: your three for relegation and why, if you tip Hull to survive, you won’t go down? Hardly matters but the top four in order?
I think Sunderland, Burnley and Boro will go down, I just hope it’s not us. Top? 1: Manchester City 2: Manchester United 3: Chelsea 4: Tottenham. That was my prediction for the top four back in July so I think I’ll stick with that.
Diving: so commonplace we may as well stop whingeing and encourage coaches in their apparent attempts to make their players do it more effectively? Or do we keep on trying to stamp out cheating?
Diving is probably my biggest annoyance about the game of football. There are players who are supposedly worth millions and millions and they are diving to win their club games. Why don’t the club employ Sunday league players, they can dive just as well and will be a lot cheaper! FIFA needs to do something serious about diving and kick it out of football forever.
Best ref, worst ref?
Roger East, Andre Marriner, Lee Probert, Mike Dean and Stuart Atwell are among my most hated referees. It’s literally as though they have a grudge against the smaller clubs so they opt to give the decisions to the bigger clubs that are playing.
I can’t really recall a decent referee, most of them give poor decisions every game.
Will you be at our game. What will be the score?
I attempted to get tickets with my two friends however they’re going with their families and my dad’s at work that day so unfortunately I will not be attending the Sunderland – Hull City game. It was one of the games I was really looking forward to. I think that we will snatch a win against you: Sunderland 1-3 Hull City.
* Mark Bradley on himself: I am a massive Hull City supporter, I’ve been watching the club since the age of six. I’ve seen the highest points in the club’s history and I’ve also seen the worst. Hull City AFC literally means everything to me and it will until I die. Best of luck for the rest of the season, Sunderland! Believe that you’ll stay up and you will. I really hope you do.
Interview: Colin Randall