Read on for the answer to the question posed in the headline. Ollie Warner, co-presenter of the Shrewsbury Town podcast Salopcast, came up trumps with great replies to our questions ahead of Saturday’s game. He’ll be there, looking forward to seeing a new ground, and feels Sunderland will have to buy in January or settle for the playoffs …
Salut! Sunderland: What were your minimum and maximum expectations when the season began and how do you assess how it’s gone so far?
Ollie Warner: after the high of last season, I wasn’t expecting a repeat, but we didn’t expect to start the season near the bottom of the table. Minimum was low mid-table, maximum was a run in the playoffs.
What did you make of Sunderland when we played at your place?
My first observation was I haven’t seen a team play 4-2-4 in a long time! Your central midfielders had a lot of ground to cover. But I can see why, get the ball forward to your strikers and let them do their magic. I expect Sunderland to improve as the season goes on, especially if you upgrade in January. Honeyman looks like a good player.
Are you happy with the manager/owner structure and how far can it realistically take you?
We have an excellent owner, he funded the club while we were at the Gay Meadow and has invested in the infrastructure in recent years with a training ground. We are never in debt.
Sam Ricketts sounds like a modern football manager, a vast improvement since we allowed John Askey to depart the club.
Players who’ve impressed you in Shrewsbury colours this season?
Greg Docherty on loan from Rangers has been excellent, he is one to keep an eye on. Anthony Grant has been class in midfield, money well spent!
Best moments as a fan??
It hasn’t been the best season for big moments. Highlight must be the demolition of Salford in the FA Cup after BT Sport had told all the viewers this will be an upset if Salford lose and one co-commentator called us Macclesfield! We then proceeded to pass them off the park and demonstrate a huge gap in ability.
And low points?
The whole Askey period. We were short of ideas, lacking fitness, making odd tactical decisions and losing games!
What does it mean to you to support a club like Shrewsbury and not succumb to ‘big club’ temptation?
Supporting Shrewsbury is just normal… the club I supported since watching them as a child, as will most of your fans. It just so happens Shrewsbury is an average sized town. I don’t understand the obsession with numbers.
No club is “better” than another.
I have already asked about us. Did our sharp decline surprise you?
Not really. As a non-Sunderland fan, the club sounded and acted like a basket case. I was more surprised you stayed in the Premier League as long as you did. Relegation to L1 seemed like a natural outcome as we have seen with Portsmouth, Bradford, Leeds, Wolves and Man City.
Any other thoughts on Sunderland – club, fans, city and region, Jack Ross?
Hopefully this season will cleanse the club of your recent past, bring the club and the fans together and see you back competing at a higher level. I was more impressed with your assistant manager [James Fowler].
I was given ticket by a friend in the “posh seats” when we played you, and he appears absolutely mental. He is very, very, very passionate! It is a scandal how your club was managed and what some players were able to get away with. I hope your fans didn’t break too many TVs watching Martin Bain.
Hopefully you are enjoying winning games and visiting new grounds and pubs.
Hand on heart, where will our clubs finish this season?
Sunderland in the playoffs, unless you get some new signings. Portsmouth and Luton seem better equipped at the moment.
Diving and other cheating. Will it ever be eliminated – and does it matter anymore?
Diving needs to be removed. Also petty things like kicking the ball away (I thought that was a yellow…), walking away from the ref when the player knows he is going to be booked, and time wasting!
Will you be at our match and what will be the score?
I will! Looking forward to going to a new ground. I am staying in Northumberland again, we love that part of the country. I proposed to my now wife on the beach under Bamburgh castle.
Score: 2-1 to Sunderland
Interview: Colin Randall